There has been a permanent settlement in present-day Tajikistan since about 2000 BCE. In ancient and early Middle Ages, the area included Baktria, Sogdiana, the Kushana Empire and the Turkish Kaganate (see Turkestan).
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During the latter half of the 600s, the Arabs came and the area became part of the Islamic caliphate in the early 700s. In the following centuries, the area was subjugated to the Sami, Mongol and Timurids.
In the latter half of the 19th century Russia conquered Central Asia, and in 1885 the Russians had control over the entire area which is today Tajikistan. In 1924, Tajikistan became an autonomous republic within the borders of the Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, and in 1929 the Tajik Socialist Soviet Republic was established.
Tajikistan declared itself an independent state on September 9, 1991, and formally became its own country on January 1, 1992. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Tajikistan.
Medieval and early modern times
In the second half of the 600s, the area was conquered by the Arabs and Islamized. Anti-Arab uprisings in the Iranian-speaking population of Transoxania led to the unification of all of present-day Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Khorasan in Iran during the contemporary times. After the fall of this dynasty around 1000, Tajikistan was under various local and foreign rulers.
The Mongols conquered the country in 1221, Timur Lenk and the Timurids ruled there from the second half of the 1300s until they were overthrown by the Uzbek Shaibanids, a new eastern equestrian people who surrendered large parts of Central Asia in the early 1500s.
The Shahibanide khanate was eventually divided into several smaller kingdoms, two of which, the Bukhara emirate and the Kokandkhanate, comprised parts of present-day Tajikistan. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, these kingdoms experienced cultural, economic and military decline.
When Russia began to invade Central Asia in the latter half of the 19th century, the empires in the area did little to resist. In 1868, Kokand and part of Bukhara were incorporated into Russia, while the rest of Bukhara’s territory became Russian protectorate. On the basis of a British-Russian agreement of 1895, a permanent border was made through the Tajik-populated area, so that the territory south of Amu-Darja was assigned to Afghanistan.
The Tajiks stand out from the other peoples of the former Russian Central Asia in that they speak a variant of Persian (Farsi). Very large parts of Tajikistan consist of high mountains, and the population is concentrated on the few fertile lowlands. Here, a bilingual Turkish-Persian symbiosis culture developed with Sunni Islam by the Hanafi school as a common element. As the political elite was Uzbek- speaking, the Persian element of culture was gradually forced back in favor of the Turkish.
In April 1918, the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Republic was established, which included parts of Tajikistan. In 1921-1923 the area was ravaged by civil war against the Soviet power; the Islamic so-called Basmachi movement was not finally defeated until 1926. The Bukhara emirate was converted to the People’s Republic and continued to exist until 1924, when the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Republic was formed within the Uzbek Union Republic. Tajikistan then became its own Union Republic in 1929.
When the Bolsheviks divided Central Asia into autonomous units based on linguistic differences, the distinction between Tajik and Uzbek was for the first time given a political-administrative expression. However, it was almost impossible to draw a physical boundary between the peoples; large Tajik groups came to live in Uzbekistan, while northern Tajikistan, which forms part of the Fergana Valley, had a significant Uzbek minority. At the same time, a number of smaller people in the Pamir Mountains were given a separate autonomous area within Tajikistan under the name of Mount Badakhshan. These people speak different languages and dialects and belong to the Ishmaelite direction ofShia Islam. The important Tajik-speaking cities of Bukhara and Samarkand remained in Uzbekistan and the small town of Dushanbe (in Stalin time: Stalinabad) in the south was made the capital.
Under Lenin’s Korenisatsija policy, a new Tajik political and cultural elite was established that led to the modernization and Sovietization of the republic. Under Stalin, the majority of this elite was charged with bourgeois nationalism and purged under the great terror. From the late 1930s to the 1960s, the republic was mainly led by Russians from Moscow.
During the Soviet period, Tajikistan underwent significant economic development. The waterfalls provided the basis for aluminum production, the uranium deposits for weapons production and irrigation for cotton production. Thanks to large central transfers, annual growth in the 1960s and 1970s was around 8-10 percent. Nevertheless, the republic remained one of the poorest in the Soviet Union, partly because it had the highest birth rate and annual population growth of 3.5–4 percent. This led to significant overpopulation and unemployment in the countryside. The skilled labor force in the industry was to a large extent migrants from Russia and other Europeans.
In the second half of the 1980s, during the perestroika, Tajikistan was one of the first Union republics to introduce its own language law that made the titular population a “state language”. This led some Russians to move out. Several followed when riots broke out in the capital Dushanbe in February 1990. Xenophobia was promoted and over 20 people lost their lives.
Clan and regional loyalties are very strong in Tajikistan. Apparently ideological conflicts between Communists, Islamists and Democrats following the dissolution of the Soviet Union have very often been the expression of traditional regional contradictions. Communists have been particularly strong in the northern province of Sugdh (formerly Leninabad, around Khodzhand) as well as in Kuljab, while Islamist support points have been in the southern and eastern regions, Kurgan-Tjube, Garm and Pamir. Leninabad is the only part of the country that has a certain industry, and its leaders dominated Tajik politics during the Soviet period.
Tajikistan formally became an independent state at the turn of the year 1991/1992. At the November 1991 presidential election, the former first secretary of the Tajik Communist Party, Rahmon Nabiyev, came from Leninabad.
In 1992, a month-long demonstration outside parliament turned into a regular civil war. Young Muslims emerged as mujahedin fighters. Nabijev formed a “national reconciliation government”, but fierce fighting continued in many places in the southern provinces; occasionally also in the capital. Nabijev was overthrown in September 1992, but the civil war continued. Local warlords operated more or less independently of both warring parties; several were former criminals. Civilian abuse occurred frequently.
Communist Emomali Rakhmonov was elected new head of state in 1994. The Rakhmonov regime quickly abolished the fledgling calls for free press and independent community organizations. Opposition forces were pushed up in the mountains to the east or across the border to Afghanistan. The guerrillas received weapons and equipment from some mujahedin leaders and conducted a series of raids across the Pyandja River border into Tajikistan.
The ceasefire came to an end in 1994. After a series of unsuccessful negotiations between the Rakhmonov regime and the opposition, in 1997 it succeeded in reaching a peace agreement on the distribution of power. The war between the government and Islamist rebels was at its most fierce in Chatlon Province in the southwest, where about 48,000 people are said to have been killed. In all, the civil war is estimated to have cost at least 60,000 lives.
Following the peace deal, the leader of the militant Islamist opposition, Sayed Abdullah Nuri, took office in the government as deputy prime minister. A national reconciliation commission was established to integrate Islamists into state institutions. The ban on Islamist parties was lifted. However, the peace agreement did not end the political violence. New strife followed when armed Islamists from Uzbekistan for years used Tajikistan as a transit country for attacks against Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
After the turn of the millennium, conditions gradually stabilized, although traditional contradictions between northern and southern Tajikistan continued to prevail.
At the 1999 presidential election, Emomali Rakhmon was re-elected for a seven-year term; allegedly with 97 percent of the vote. In the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections, the presidential party strengthened its dominant position, by over 70 and 80 percent. A referendum in 2003 opened for Rakhmon to stand for election for a further two 7-year terms as president. Rakhmon was re-elected as president in 2006 (with 79 percent of the vote) and 2013 (with 84 percent of the vote), in elections heavily criticized by international observers.
In December 2015, President Rahmon was given the formal title of “Guarantor of Peace and National Unity, the Head of the Nation, Tajikistan’s President, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon” and life-long immunity from prosecution. In the same period, Tajikistan’s only opposition party, Tajikistan’s Islamic Reconstruction Party (often referred to as the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, IRPT), dozens of key party members were sentenced to long prison sentences and hundreds fled from Tajikistan – many to Europe.
On May 26, 2016, a referendum was held in Tajikistan where allegedly 96.6 percent voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that removes restrictions on how many times a president can stand for re-election, which in practice means that Emomali Rahmon can stay as president the rest of life. A further change lowered the lower age limit for the presidential office from 35 to 30 years, which in practice means that Rahmon’s eldest son, Rustam Emomali, can stand as presidential candidate.
The dramatic development in Tajikistan with regard to human rights and democracy in recent years has been sharply criticized by organizations such as the UN and the OSCE, as well as in statements by the EU and the US.