The Tajiks, whose language is nearly identical with Persian, were part of the ancient Persian Empire that was ruled by Darius I and later conquered by Alexander the Great (333 B.C. ). In the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs conquered the region and brought Islam. The Tajiks were successively ruled by Uzbeks and then Afghans until claimed by Russia in the 1860s. In 1924, Tajikistan was consolidated into a newly formed Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which was administratively part of the Uzbek SSR until the Tajik ASSR gained full-fledged republic status in 1929.
Tajikistan declared its sovereignty in Aug. 1990. Tajikistan joined with ten other former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States on Dec. 21, 1991. A parliamentary republic was proclaimed and presidential rule abolished in Nov. 1992. After independence, Tajikistan experienced sporadic conflict as the Communist-dominated government struggled to combat an insurgency by Islamic and democratic opposition forces. Despite continued international efforts to end the civil war, periodic fighting continued. The conflict ended officially on June 27, 1997, with the signing in Moscow of peace accords between the government of President Imomali Rakhmonov and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), a coalition of largely Islamic groups.
Tajikistan is safe, stable and scenically spectacular. The Pamirs “the Roof of the World” are the country’s highlight, offering breathtaking high-altitude scenery, excellent ecotourism options, humbling mountain hospitality. The Pamir Highway is one of Asia's greatest road trips. The Wakhan Valley is a walker's dream, Dushanbe is considered one of Central Asia's prettiest capitals, while the ancient city of Penjikent gives an interesting glimpse into the region's Silk Road past.
Land area: 55,251 sq mi (143,100 sq km)
Population (2009 est.): 7,349,145. Majority of Tajik (Persian ethnic)
Pamiri (Gorno Badakshan in the High Pamir), Russian, Kyrgyz (Murgab plateau), Uzbek, Kurdish.
Languages: Tajik, Russian, Kyrgyz, Pamiri, English
Capital: Dushanbe, 817'100 (metro. area), 590300 (city proper)
Other large city: Khodzhent (Leninabad), 156500
Monetary unit: Somoni. Euro & US Dollars can be exchanged in many towns.
Geography: 93% of Tajikistan's territory is mountainous, and the mountain glaciers are the source of its rivers. The central Asian republic also includes the Gorno-Badakh Shan Autonomous region.
Tip: an excellent map is available: “THE PAMIRS” edited by Gecko Maps, Switzerland www.geckomaps.com