Area: 143,100 sq km
Date of independence: September 9, 1991
Large ethnic minority: Uzbek
Religion: Islam (95% of population)
Present-day Tajikistan came under Russian rule in the second part if 19th century. Tajikistan was first created as an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and only in 1929, Tajikistan received the status of republic. Ethnic Uzbeks are a substantial minority in Tajikistan. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan became independent and experienced a civil war between regional factions from 1992 to 1997. Tajikistan has endured several domestic security incidents since 2010, including armed conflict between government forces and local strongmen in the Rasht Valley and between government forces and criminal groups in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. Recent incidents were a series of attacks on security personnel in September 2015 led by a former high-ranking official in the Ministry of Defense. Tajikistan remains the poorest country in the post-Soviet region. It became a member of the World Trade Organization in March 2013, but the economy of Tajikistan faces major challenges, including dependence on remittances from Russia, high levels of corruption, and the major role narcotrafficking plays in the country's informal economy.
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. Authorities use torture to obtain confessions and it remains a serious concern. In 2014, the government blocked various websites, considered introducing a new law that would require NGOs to register all sources of funding from foreign sources, subjected human rights groups to harassment, restricted media freedoms, and continued to enforce serious restrictions on religious practice, as it had in previous years. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people are subjected to wide-ranging discrimination and homophobia.
Domestic violence against women also continues to be a serious problem. 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.
In addition to considering an introduction of a new law that would hamper the work of civil society in Tajikistan, civil society organizations remain largely closed and are subject to rigorous reporting guidelines that hamper their activities. Groups must operate inconspicuously, toeing the line between doing good work and evading scrutiny from authorities.
Since Tajikistan is heavily depended on remittances from Russia, integration of the country in Eurasian Economic Union will most likely take place in 2017 and further entrench Tajikistan into the Russian sphere of influence.