Tajikistan is a small, mountainous and landlocked country located to the north of Afghanistan and the west of China. Only formed as a state following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, under half of all Tajiks live in Tajikistan (there are more Tajiks in Afghanistan than Tajikistan). The country also has a substantial Uzbek minority, based in the more prosperous north of the country.
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan underwent a prolonged period of political uncertainty, marked by a civil war which lasted until 1997 and claimed up to 100,000 lives. The country is now peaceful and safe to travel in, but is yet to make the transition to democracy; its elections are classed as neither free nor fair.
Tajikistan is the poorest country in the former USSR, without the abundant natural resources of neighbouring Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan. The altitude of much of the country does not lend itself well to agriculture and its annual GDP at PPP is $2,000. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, the autonomous region which encompasses the area of the Pamir mountains, is the poorest part of the country.
Despite this, Tajikistan has potential for growth. In particular, the scope for tourism development is clear. Whilst infrastructure in many parts of the country is underdeveloped or even non-existent, the landscape of much of the country is spectacular; 90% of Tajikistan is mountainous. And although the quality of schooling has tailed off since the end of communist rule, Tajikistan still has a near 100% literacy rate. During the Soviet Union, more people went on to higher education from the Pamirs than from any other region in the USSR.
PHOTOS FROM TAJIKISTAN
Below are a few of our photos from Tajikistan, in particular the Pamirs.
TRAVEL TO THE PAMIRS
Tajikistan possesses a wide variety of attractions available for visitors. For keen climbers and mountaineers, there are oodles of peaks topping out at over 7,500 metres. For cyclists, the Pamir Highway from Khorog to Osh in Kyrgyzstan offers a high-altitude, high-octane adventure. For culture seekers, there’s fortress hopping along the Wakhan Valley followed by regalement from local musicians in a traditional Pamiri house. Feeling a little cold? Partake in a traditional Tajik experience by jumping in feet first at one of the many hot springs; check out Garam Chasma, Bibi Fatima or Madian for starters.
South of Spain it’s not. Transport is primitive, food is basic (unless tea…with bread, salt, milk and yak’s butter is to your taste) and English is seldom spoken. If free wi-fi is a prerequisite alongside your blueberry muffin, Tajikistan might not be the best bet. However, with a bit of planning and a bit more patience, Tajikistan will return your investment several-fold. The hospitality of the Pamirs is legendary and the region’s scenery has earned it the epithet ‘the roof of the world’.
But don’t take our word for it. We would rave about the country – we’re walking across America to raise money for the place! So, check out our photo page for an introduction to some of the magnificent scenery the country has to offer. Once you’ve done that, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction to organising your trip there.