Tajikistan, officially the Republic of Tajikistan, is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan are separated from Tajikistan by the narrow Wakhan Corridor.
Most of Tajikistan's population belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran. Once part of the Samanid Empire, Tajikistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union in the 20th century, known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR). Mountains cover over 90% of this Central Asian republic.
After independence, Tajikistan suffered from a devastating civil war which lasted from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country's economy to grow. Trade in commodities such as cotton, aluminium and uranium has contributed greatly to this steady improvement. However, fighting broke out again in late July 2012, with inconclusive results.
Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the Presidency and Parliament. It is, however, a one party dominant system, where the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan routinely has a vast majority in Parliament. The parliamentary elections in 2005 aroused many accusations from opposition parties and international observers that President Emomalii Rahmon corruptly manipulates the election process. The most recent elections, in February 2010, saw the ruling PDPT lose four seats in Parliament, yet still maintain a comfortable majority. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observers said the 2010 polling "failed to meet many key OSCE commitments" and that "these elections failed on many basic democratic standards." The government insisted that only minor violations had occurred, which would not affect the will of the Tajik people.
Freedom of the press is officially guaranteed by the government, although independent press outlets remain restricted, as does a substantial amount of web content. According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, access is blocked to local and foreign websites including avesta.tj, Tjknews.com, ferghana.ru and centrasia.ru and journalists are often obstructed from reporting on controversial events. In practice, no public criticism of the regime is tolerated and all direct protest is severely suppressed and does not get reported in the local media.
The presidential election held on November 6, 2006 was boycotted by "mainline" opposition parties, including the 23,000-member Islamic Renaissance Party. Four remaining opponents "all but endorsed the incumbent", Rahmon.
Tajikistan has given Iran its support in Iran's membership bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, after a meeting between the Tajik President and the Iranian foreign minister.
Tajikistan was the poorest republic of the Soviet Union and is the poorest country in Central Asia as well as in the former Soviet Union today. The current economic situation remains fragile, largely owing to corruption, uneven economic reforms, and economic mismanagement. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon remittances from migrant workers overseas, exports of aluminium and cotton, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. In FY 2000, international assistance remained an essential source of support for rehabilitation programs that reintegrated former civil war combatants into the civilian economy, thus helping keep the peace. International assistance also was necessary to address the second year of severe drought that resulted in a continued shortfall of food production.
Tajikistan holds third place in the world for heroin and raw opium confiscations (1216.3 kg of heroin and 267.8 kg of raw opium in the first half of 2006). Drug money corrupts the country's government; according to some experts the well-known personalities that fought on both sides of the civil war and have held the positions in the government after the armistice was signed are now involved in the drug trade. UNODC is working with Tajikistan to strengthen border crossings, provide training, and set up joint interdiction teams. It also helped to establish Tajikistani Drug Control Agency.
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