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A landlocked Central Asian republic bordering Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China, Tajikistan is recovering from a civil war that affected the country between 1992 and 1997. While officially a democratic republic, in practice it is a one-party State whose elections fail to meet international standards and where the same president has ruled since 1994. In addition to suppression of opposition by government forces and strict limitations on civil and political rights, Tajikistan also has major problems associated with economic rights and its status as the poorest State in Central Asia, including child labour and human trafficking, alongside large numbers of orphans and discrimination against women and girls.
Tajikistan, the smallest country in Central Asia, shares borders with China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The country's capital, Dushanbe, which means 'Monday', takes its name from a weekly market held on Mondays around which the city developed.
Population and language
The country's population is 7,075,0001 and comprises a majority of ethnic Tajiks, with Uzbeks making up a quarter of the population. Other ethnic groups include Russians, Kyrgyz and Ukrainians.
The official language is Tajik, a form of Persian written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
History and politics
Tajikistan became an independent country in 1991 following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Central government collapsed in 1992 and a bitter and bloody civil war pitted ethnic and regional forces against each other for upwards of three years. Imomali Rakhmonov emerged as president after the war and in 1997 his government concluded a negotiated peace agreement with the main Islamic opposition grouping. The agreement has given the country a new stability though President Rakhmonov’s rule has become increasingly authoritarian. The civil war killed up to 50,000 people. The survivors were traumatised and the economy was left in tatters, and has had serious consequences for the country's capacity to fulfil children's rights, for example a fifth of the country's schools were destroyed during this period
Tajikistan is now a presidential republic. The country has a bicameral parliament made up of a Council of Representatives (lower house) and a National Council (upper house).
Tajikistan's economy has grown steadily since the war's end. However, widespread corruption of officials in every sector of the State has contributed to the continuing poverty of the majority of the population, according to Freedom House and Transparency International, although the World Bank recently ranked Tajikistan in among the top 10 reformers in its “Doing Business Survey 2010”. The economy is heavily reliant on remittances from migrant workers in Russia and Kyrgyzstan for 30 per cent of the GDP. Remittances have fallen recently as a result of the global financial crisis. Tajikistan is also one of the major routes for the transit of Afghan drugs to Russia and the wider world and this trade generates large illegal money flows in the country and reinforces criminal corruption.
Agriculture is the main sector of the economy, representing approximately 49 per cent of GDP in 2008, according to the National Bank. Other sectors such as construction and light industry are also growing.
Cotton is the country's main crop. However, harvests are variable and cotton-related indebtedness is the focus of many programmes of international financial institutions in the country. Furthermore, children are thought to be significantly used as a labour force in the cotton fields.
Media and civil society
Reporters Without Borders has informed of worsening crack-downs on journalists in since mid-2010, reporting on 10 current media prosecutions. Furthermore, in January 2011, a ban on the sale of newspapers on the street came into force in addition to an increase in income tax, threatening the survival of newspapers. The country ranked 115 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders' 2010 Press Freedom Index.
Human rights and children's rights
Human rights violations consistently raised by UN monitoring bodies include torture and abuse of prisoners, abuses by security forces, restricted freedom of speech, freedom of religion and access of international monitors to the country.
- UNDP Human Development Indicators. Accessed 20 May 2011
- UNICEF, Tajikistan Country Page. Accessed 20 May 2011
- “The domestic economy: Despite robust economic growth, poverty is endemic”, Economist Intelligence Unit,14 June 2010; Freedom House, Nations in Transit. Tajikistan Country Report, 2010
- “Migrant Remittances to Tajikistan: The Potential for Savings, Economic Investment and Existing Financial Products to Attract Remittances”, ILO Subregional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 2010, p. 1
- Reporters Without Borders, "Authorities urged to abandon campaign of harassment of independent media"28 February 2011
- National Association of Independent Mass Media in Tajikistan
- Reporters Without Borders, "World Press Freedom Index 2010"
- "Authorities urged to abandon campaign of harassment of independent media"28 February 2011
- ILO Subregional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia“Migrant Remittances to Tajikistan: The Potential for Savings, Economic Investment and Existing Financial Products to Attract Remittances”, 2010
- Economist Intelligence Unit, 14 June 2010
- Freedom House "Nations in Transit. Tajikistan Country Report", 2010
- World Bank, “Doing Business Survey 2010”
- UNICEF, Tajikistan Country Page.