Area: 143,100 sq km
Date of independence: September 9, 1991
Ethnic groups: Tajik (84%) and Uzbek (14%) and Russians (1%)
Religion: Islam (96% of population)
The Tajiks were part of the ancient Persian Empire ruled by Darius I and later conquered by Alexander the Great (333 BC), hence Tajik language is almost identical to the Persian language spoken in Iran. In the 7th and 8th centuries, Arabs conquered the region and brought Islam. The Tajiks were under the Uzbeks and then Afghans until Russians conquered the area in the 1860s. In 1924, Tajikistan was consolidated into a newly formed Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within Uzbekistan, and only in 1929, Tajikistan received status of the republic.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan gained its independence, and shortly after in 1992, Tajikistan was plunged into Civil War that lasted for 5 years. The protesters were against the presidential elections and demanded fair representation. The civil war was a chaotic, complex and multi-sided affair. It was a power struggle between clans and regions, neo-Communists, moderate Muslims, democrats and intellectuals. There were clans and warlords who took side of the neo-Communists opposing Islamic force. Only in 1997, the sides came to a treaty and a peace accordance was signed, that ceased the war.
The Civil War debilitated the economy and stability of the country and its consequences left deep scars and fear in the population. People fear to object and protest to the current government led by President Emomali Rahmon, who is in the position since 1994.The president Emomali Rahmon dictates his image on media. Since 2017, a new law requires journalists and media to refer to Rahmon as “The Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon.”
People fear that protests can lead to another civil war. Albeit, according to the ICNL (The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law) the Civil Society is one of the most dynamically developing sectors in Tajikistan today. However, CSOs undergo meticulous scrutiny by the government that impedes and limits their efficiency. According to Human Rights Watch, Tajikistan’s human rights record continues to deteriorate amid an ongoing crack down on freedom of expression and political opposition and pressure on the independent media.
Tajikistan remains the poorest country in the post-Soviet region. Its economy faces major challenges, including dependence on remittances from Russia, high levels of corruption, and narco-trafficking plays the major role in the country's informal economy. The main sources of income are cotton and wheat crops, aluminum processing, mining of precious metals, hydroelectric power exports, and remittances by migrant workers. Due to its water resources Tajikistan has a significant potential for hydro-power generation as it already has the world's highest dam that supplies 98% of the country's needs. According to World Bank, the economic growth has been increasing by 7% per year since years and significant poverty reduction is observed.
Internet access has always been a challenge for the population as the government meticulously scrutinize the usage of already slow Internet and even shuts down major mainstream sites such as Google, Facebook and many other communication applications. In 2019, the government initiated the increase of the Internet cost evoking indignation in society. As a result, the law has not been ratified.
Domestic violence against women remains to be a challenge. There has been an attempt to combat domestic violence against women and children in 2015 that included establishing several police stations staffed by female police inspectors who received training in gender-sensitive policing. However, it is reported that Tajikistan’s 2013 law on the prevention of violence in the family remains unimplemented and victims of domestic violence continue to suffer and do not receive adequate protection.
LGBT+ community is subjected to discrimination and homophobia. In 2014, the State Committee for Religious Affairs informed imams across the country to preach against “nontraditional sexual relations.” Public beatings and discrimination as well as detention, harassment, and extortion by police are commonplace. Police routinely arrest men under suspicion of “homosexual acts” and charge them with “moral crimes.” In 2015, more than 500 individuals, who were suspected of being part of LGBT+ community were arrested in order to eradicate “immoral behavior” in the country.