Squeezed between the upper reaches of the Oxus (Uzbeks named itAmu Darya and Arabs Sayxun) and Jaxartes (Uzbeks named it Syr Darya) rivers and bordering the most remote regions of Afghanistan and China, Tajikistan embraces the widest range of scenery of all Central Asian republics.

Most of it is defined by mountains, from the high rolling plateau of the eastern Pamirs to the remote, almost vertical gorges of the western Pamirs and scenic central ranges of the Fan and Turkestan mountains.

Tajikistan at a glance

Official name: Republic of Tajikistan

Capital city: Dushanbe (population 800,000)

Other main towns: Khojand, Kulob, Kurghonteppa, Istaravshan

Population: 9,1 million (equivalent to 0.12% of the total world populationn)

Location: landlocked in the heart of central Asia

Border Countries: Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan

Area: 143,100 square kilometers

Climate: continental, subtropical and semi-arid with some desert areas

Government: Presidential republic.

Life expectancy: men 69, women 73 years

Major exports: aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, textiles

Official language: Tajik; Russian is also widely used.

Unemployment: approx. 10 %

Religion: 90% Muslim (85% Sunni, 5% Ismaili), 10% Russian Orthodox and other minorities

Currency: Tajik somani (“Somoni” in Tajik)

National airline: Tajik Air

International telephone code: +998

Time Zone: GMT+5

Electricity: 220 volts (50Hz) (round, two-pin plugs, standard European or older Soviet with thinner pins. European plugs will not fit the Soviet sockets, but adapters available)

Weights and measures: metric

Flag: Horizontal stripes of red, white and green with a golden crown and stars

National anthem: Surudi Milli

National sports Buzkashi  (a game played between two teams, using a goat’s carcass to score points), gushtigiri (traditional wrestling), judo, boxing

Public holidays:

1  January: New Year’s Day

8 March: International Women’s Day

21-23 March: Navruz, the Persian New Year

1 May: International Labour Day

9 May: Day of Memory and Honour (Victory Day, for the veterans and martyrs of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945))

27 June: National Unity Day

9 September: Independence Day

9 December: Constitution Day