Country - Tajikistan


Tajikistan Country Information

Tajikistan is a land of mountains in the world. It is a landlocked country surrounded by four nations in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is in the north, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south and Uzbekistan is in the west. Dushanbe is the capital and the largest city of Tajikistan. The official language is Tajik spoken by a majority of population while Russian is used for most of the official and business purposes.

The use of Russian as a second language can be attributed to the fact that Tajikistan was a part of the Soviet Union till 1991. With the disintegration of USSR, Tajikistan claimed independence similar to many of its counterparts. After independence, different factions sprang up to fight with one another for political supremacy. The civil war that commenced in 1992 erupted prolonged chaos in the country and saw more than 100,000 people killed and about 1.2 million rendered homeless. Over 375000 ethnic Russians fled to Russia for safety. Towards the end of 1997 the intensity of strife subsided and a peaceful situation seemed to have been restored with the successful elections in 1999. The subsequent governments faced criticism for being nonchalant to oppressed human rights, curtailed freedom of press and totalitarianism. In the following years too, internal turmoil continued when Islamic fugitives and militants grew in strength killing 58 Tajik security personnel in two separate incidents in 2010. In spite of military support from its allies, the country continues to face nagging annoyance by dissidents and insurgents from both within and outside Tajikistan.

The United Nations has rated Tajikistan as one of the poorest countries in Central Asia. The per capita GDP (nominal) as per the estimates of 2017 was US $ 819. In the middle of several adversities, the country has ironically achieved a very high rate of literacy at 99.8% which is attributed to the continuance of the pre-independence Russian system of education that allows free education to all children till completion of higher secondary school. This enables all the children to become literate who can at least read and write.

The glory of Tajikistan’s sovereignty is symbolized by the Dushanbe Flagpole which was the tallest in the world at the time of its erection in 2011. The flag post is of 165 meters (541 feet) that stands proudly in front of the presidential building called Palace of Nations in the capital city Dushanbe. The flag post enjoyed its superlative height till 2014 when a yet taller flagpole of 171 meter height was erected in Jeddah of Saudi Arabia. The flagpoles of Jeddah and Dushanbe are currently in the first two positions of being the tallest posts in the world, followed by the National flagpole of Azerbaijan of 162 meters, Panmunjeom flagpole of North Korea 160 meters and Ashgabat flagpole of Turkmenistan of 133 meters.

The great statue of Vladimir Lenin in Tajikistan, revered as the father of Bolshevik Revolution, is the biggest single-stone structure in Central Asia. Since the time of installation in 1974, the statue of Lenin had been the main cynosure in the city of Khujand, formerly known as Leninabad. Twenty years after Tajikistan gained independence from the Soviet Union, the statue was shifted to a more peaceful locality in the outskirts of the city.

The five-kilometer long tunnel, popularly known as Anzob Tunnel, had come as a great relief when it became the shorter route to join the north and the south Tajikistan though the tunnel has its own share of deadly problems the commuters have to invariably deal with. Prior to digging the tunnel, commuters had to trace the by-pass route through near-hostile Uzbekistan road laden with year-round avalanches, massive ice blockades etc., that meant segregation of Tajikistan into two parts north and south during entire winter season. When the tunnel came into operation, problems for commuters were considerably mitigated, but not fully.

Although a large part of distance was notably reduced, the tunnel has earned the undesirable nicknames of “The Tunnel of Death” and “The Tunnel of Fear”. Total lack of illumination and ventilation, existence of water-filled potholes big enough to ensnare huge trucks temporarily and to crumple the paunches of passengers aboard, lack of outlets for poisonous exhaust gases, heavy slabs/scales of rock pieces collapsing occasionally from the tunnel roof, shutdown of an adjacent sister tunnel making the passage a single-lane tunnel, accumulation of water in the ditches hardly visible in the pitch dark tunnel are some of the factors that conferred haunting titles to the tunnel. Those who emerge alive from the outlet of the tunnel heave a sigh of emancipation involuntarily and sense the commencement of fresh lease of life. However, the recent renovations in 2018 seem to have made the Anzob Tunnel more navigable and traveller-friendly.

The biggest water dam in the entire world, called Usoi dam, is located at the unapproachable Palmir mountain range, in the middle of Tajikistan. Geologists estimate that a gigantic earthquake of an intensity of 7.0 on Richter Scale in 1911 caused huge crater with a holding capacity of more than 16 cubic kilometers of water and a gargantuan landslide which formed a natural barrier of 2.2 million cubic meters. Tajikistan has a reason to feel proud about being in possession of the world’s largest water dam but ironically the dam has become a bugbear of many worries to the country.

The location of Usoi dam is highly susceptible for earthquakes in future. If there were to be another earthquake of similar magnitude, it would wreak havoc of unprecedented magnitude releasing humongous deluge of Sarez lake-water inundating inestimable swathes of terrains on its way. It is even feared that the cataclysmic flood might engulf to some extent the neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. 

Another perturbation is about the cavities formed in the dam which would enfeeble the wall. The partial detachment of giant rock mass of three cubic kilometers bears a potential threat, if collapsed in to the Sarez lake, of exerting additional strain on the dam resulting in colossal outburst of flooding water.

Arrangements were made by the Tajikistan government in 2014 to set up a monitoring system on Sarez lake and the nearby dales that would be effected by destruction of the lake.

The capital city of Dushanbe too has some noteworthy tourist attractions. The prominent among them are the Wall of Great Tajik Writers located in the centre of the city. The large wall was engraved with excellent architectural skills to form big niches to accommodate the statues of eminent writers, poets, playwrights, novelists native to the land. The statue of “the Adam of Poets”, Rudaki of eighth century, occupies the center stage deservedly among the other erudite legendaries.

Tourists with a flair for world history can visit Yamchun Fort in Ishkoshim and the remains of the ancient Sogdiana Empire in Nohijai Panjakent which stand as testimonies for the glorious past of the land.