Tajikistan History

Tajikistan is a small country with a total surface area of 55,251 sq mi (143,100 km²). Tajiikistan shares international borders with China (east), Uzbekistan (west), Afghanistan (south), and Kyrgyzstan (north). With a population that reached 7,320,000 in 2006, Tajikistan has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Dushanbe became the city capital in 1929, although there were no major developments in the area until the last thirty years. Even now, Dushanbe looks more like a mountain village than a capital city, with buildings that rarely reach more than three floors.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

The Republic of Tajikistan, formerly the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic, has existed as an independent country only since 1991. Before that, Tajikistan was part of the Soviet Union. However, the area that is now Tajikistan has been inhabited for at least 6000 years, first by the Persians, then by the Arabs, and finally by the Mongols. All three empires had at some point total control over the region, and used it as a secondary commerce route and an expansion for their overcrowded cities.

Under the power of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan remained one of the poorer and less developed of all Soviet Republics. Even after their independence in 1991, Tajikistan did not get a real opportunity to develop, as the country suffered through a civil war that lasted for almost eight years. Tajikistan is now a unitary state, with a citizen-elected central government that has complete power over all political offices.

A Tajik man

A Tajik man

Tajiks are the main ethnic group in Tajikistan, with most of the population adhering to Sunni Islam beliefs. About ten percent of the total population is of Russian or Uzbek heritage, a percentage much lower than it was just ten years ago, as more and more people are returning to their countries of origin in search of a better economic outlook for their families. As of 2006, the per capita income in Tajikistan was just $1,388 US Dollars, which puts the country in the 156th place in the world, behind many African countries. To compare, Russia is on 60th place and Belarus in the 72nd place. Major industries include aluminum and cotton, but the private sector is still poorly developed, and Tajikistan has depended mainly on foreign aid to sustain the local industry.

Images from images.google.com and www.china.org.cn

Tajikistan’s Energy Problem

Proponents of a controversial plan to build a high-voltage electricity export line from Tajikistan to South Asia argue that the connection – known as CASA-1000 – will not be used in winter, when the country’s own citizens suffer debilitating electricity shortages.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

But a senior Tajik official has undermined that promise, arguing that no matter how little it has for itself, Tajikistan must export electricity year-round lest any transmission equipment be looted. Most regions of Tajikistan are currently receiving about 12 hours of electricity per day; some areas get less than 10 hours and, as anyone in remote areas can attest, the current is often so weak that it cannot charge a cell phone.

Despite these extended blackouts, Tajikistan increased its electricity exports to Afghanistan through existing lines from 30 million kWh in January 2014 to 55 million kWh last month, Asia-Plus reported on February 17, citing the State Statistics Agency. Many ask the obvious question: Shouldn’t a country’s resources first serve its own people?

Barki Tojik

Barki Tojik

After years of speculation, now we have the answer. The head of the state electricity monopoly, Barki Tajik, says that the company must export in winter because it cannot risk allowing existing infrastructure to stand idle. “We keep the voltage in these lines because there is a high probability of equipment theft,” the Asia-Plus article quoted Rustam Rakhmatzoda as saying. That confession should impact CASA-1000, which has been on the drawing board since 2007.

Proponents of the 1,200-kilometer transmission line, such as officials from the World Bank (which has pledged to pay for about half the project) and senior Tajik officials, insist CASA is only for summer exports. The idea is that CASA would give Tajikistan a way to sell its annual summer hydropower surpluses to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and would stand idle in winter. (Kyrgyzstan is supposed to participate as well, but officials there privately pooh-pooh the project.)

But what’s to say Rakhmatzoda’s logic – about keeping exports going year-round to make sure equipment doesn’t get stolen – won’t be applied to CASA? Setting aside concerns about what Tajikistan’s venal leadership does with the money it earns selling electricity, it looks like planners working on the CASA budget – which has grown from $873 million in 2011 to $1.2 billion in 2014 – should include an army of security guards.

Images from en.trend.az and en.wikipedia.org

Tajikistan’s Health Projects

Tajikistan has a population of 8.1 million, with an average life expectancy of 68 years. The country’s health policies of the last 12 years have succeeded in increasing lifespan, reducing the prevalence rate of tuberculosis, decreasing maternal and child mortality, raising standards of sanitation, and improving access to safe food, and drinking water.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

“The government of Tajikistan takes an active stance in tackling those issues and enacts policies against communicable and noncommunicable diseases. WHO supports the government in those initiatives and assists it in implementing policies aimed at reducing the incidence of disease and promoting healthier lifestyles,” says Tahmina Alimamedova, Public Relations Assistant at the WHO Country Office in Tajikistan.

Tahmina Alimamedova and company

Tahmina Alimamedova and company

In 2011 only 57.6% of the population of Tajikistan had access to safe drinking water sources such as water pipes, wells, and protected springs. Despite the abundant water resources in the country, the drinking water supply system in rural areas remains underdeveloped. Given that almost 72% of Tajikistan’s population lives in rural areas, addressing this disparity is a major task that will play a significant role in the country’s development.

The WHO Water Safety Plan (WSP) is one of the main WHO guidelines on managing drinking water quality and sanitation. The Government of Tajikistan has adopted the WSP to be carried out between 2008 and 2020. Thus far, WSP has already been successfully implemented in the pilot regions of Hamadani and Pendjikent by WHO and the Tajikistan Ministry of Health, together with the support of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Botulism, which is the result of consuming food containing toxins, is a serious and potentially fatal disease that targets the nervous system. The Tajikistan Ministry of Health has made a series of policies within the framework of the WHO food safety programme that are aimed at foodborne botulism prevention. The ministry hopes to reduce the prevalence of the disease in the country through these efforts.

Images from www.euro.who.int

 

 

Tajikistan

Previously a brief overview on Central Asia was discussed. Included in the discussion were the countries included in Central Asia, its geographical setting, and the warfare filled history it has. From its history, it was known that countries located in Central Asia have been influenced by its neighboring countries.

Among the countries included, two out of five have already been covered. These countries are Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In this article, Tajikistan will be covered.

Tajikistan’s official name is the Republic of Tajikistan. As is with most Central Asian countries, it is a mountainous landlocked sovereign country. It is the 98th most populous country, and the 96th largest country in the world in terms of area.

A neat little fact concerning Tajikistan. Tajikistan means “The Land of Tajiks”. And Tajiks, among a lot of researches, it was found out that Tajiks are a pre-Islamic tribe.

Politics: Tajikistan is officially a republic. But it holds elections for both Presidency and the Parliament as well. It is, however, a Dominant-party system, where the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan routinely has a vast majority in Parliament. Dominant-party system is a system where there is a category of parties/political organizations that have successively won election victories and whose future defeat cannot be envisaged or is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Demographics: Tajikistan has a population of around 7.4 million, back then in 2009. Among these numbers are different minority groups. Some of this ethnic groups are those who migrated from their respective point of origin. Ethnic groups included in the demographics are Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Russians. There are a small number of Yaghnobi people. Yaghnobi people live in mountainous regions of northern Tajikistan.

Language: Like other Central Asian countries, the Tajik language is the mother tongue of around 80% of the citizens of Tajikistan. Meanwhile, the Yaghnobi people speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language.

Religion: As is with the other Central Asian countries, the main religion or dominant religion here is Islam. More specifically, Sunni Islam of the Hanafi School has been officially recognized by the government.

 

Other aspects of Tajikistan in the 21st century would be covered in later chapters as they are hella long and kind of complicated.

Images both from en.wikipedia.org

Tajikistan Facts and Figures

A rugged, mountainous country, with lush valleys to the south and north, it is Central Asia’s poorest nation.

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Tajiks are the country’s largest ethnic group, with Uzbeks making up a quarter of the population, over half of which is employed in agriculture and just one-fifth in industry. Nearly half of Tajikistan’s population is under 14 years of age.

The Tajik language is very close to Persian, spoken in Iran, and to Dari, spoken in Afghanistan.

The five-year civil war between the Moscow-backed government and the Islamist-led opposition, in which up to 50,000 people were killed and over one-tenth of the population fled the country, ended in 1997 with a United Nations-brokered peace agreement.

Tajikistan’s economy has never really recovered from the civil war, and poverty is widespread. Almost half of GDP is earned by migrants working abroad, especially in Russia, but the recession in 2009 threatened that income. The country is also dependent on oil and gas imports.

Economic hardship is seen as a contributing to a renewed interest in Islam – including more radical forms – among young Tajiks.

Tajikistan has been accused by its neighbours of tolerating the presence of training camps for Islamist rebels on its territory, an accusation which it has strongly denied.

Tajikistan has relied heavily on Russian assistance to counter continuing security problems and cope with the dire economic situation. Skirmishes with drug smugglers crossing illegally from Afghanistan occur regularly, as Tajikistan is the first stop on the drugs route from there to Russia and the West.

Russia maintains military garrisons in Tajikistan and in 2004 took back control over a former Soviet space monitoring centre. These developments were widely seen as a sign of Russia’s wish to counter increased US influence in Central Asia.

Russia is also mindful of the planned Nato pullout of Afghanistan in 2014 and is keen to maintain security in the region.

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Economic ties with neighbouring China are extensive. China has extended credits and has helped to build roads, tunnels and power infrastructure. Chinese firms are investing in oil and gas exploration and in gold mining.

Images from infoplease.com and afsusa.com