Here are some important facts about the country for you, dear guests:
Official title: Republic of Tajikistan
Population: 8,000 000 (February, 2013)
Religion: Islam (Sunni-85%, Ismaili – 5%), others -10%
Language: Tajik – official, Russian- interethnic communication language, Uzbek, Kyrgyz
President: H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon (since 1994-present)
Official currency: Somoni (TJS)
Country phone code: +992
Tajiks are descendents of the Indo-Iranian peoples who inhabited the ancient regions of Sogdiana (in southeastern Central Asia) and Bactria (northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan) before recorded history. Sogdiana included the northern portion of present-day Tajikistan, and its people spoke an ancient Iranian language. In the 6th century bc Sogdiana became a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire of ancient Persia. Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, conquered the region in the 300s bc, but Macedonian control collapsed with Alexander’s death in 323. Sogdiana was known to the Greeks as Transoxiana. In the 100s bc Sogdiana was included in the vast empire of the Kushanas, an area that at its height stretched from Central Asia to northern India. Sogdiana was then a central hub on the Silk Road, a collective term for the ancient caravan trade routes that linked China with the Middle East, India, and imperial Rome.
The territory of what is today Tajikistan was a crossroads for the passage of the many different tribes and ethnic groups that ruled and inhabited Central Asia over the past 3,000 years: Scythians, Persian dynasties, Macedonian/Greek armies under Alexander the Great, Parthians, Kushans, Chinese, Huns, Hephtalites, Mongol hordes, Arabs, Russians, even Nestorian Christians, Jews and British – all left their mark on the region.
The name “Tajik” appears for the first time in the works of the 11th century Turkish historian Mahmudi Kashgari, who used it to describe all Persian-speaking peoples of the region who were of Iranian origin. The Tajiks occupied a large part of Central Asia and were the sedentary inhabitants of the region as opposed to the Turkic peoples who were nomadic.
The unification of Tajik lands, flowering of science, literature, philosophy, culture and domination of Tajik language (Farsi-Dari) were made during the reign of the Samanids, whose era was considered as a golden age.
Invasions by the Huns and the Western Turks, nomadic tribes from the north, occurred between the 4th and 6th centuries ad. Then in the 8th century, Arab invaders conquered the region and introduced Islam, which thereafter remained the predominant cultural influence. In the 9th century a peaceable and affluent Persian dynasty, the Samanids, gained control of the region. The Samanids were allied with the Sunni caliph of Baghdad, and they developed Bukhoro as an important center of Muslim culture. The Samanid dynasty weakened in the late 10th century, however, and a number of Turkic hordes, most notably the Seljuks, fought over the region until the great conquest of the Mongol emperor Genghis Khan in the 13th century. The region then became part of the vast empire of Turkic conqueror Tamerlane in the 14th century. Under Tamerlane, who established the Timurid dynasty, Samarqand (in present-day Uzbekistan) became the center of cultural and political life.
The descendants of Tamerlane (Timur) who ruled in Central Asia after his death were called the Timurids. They ruled for about a century and were regarded as great patrons of the arts. The Timurids spoke Persian and a Turkic court Languages, called Chaghatai, which was the lingua franca in Central Asia for centuries.
In 892, ISMOILI SOMONI the ruler of Bukhara founded the first central, independent Tajik state, with Bukhara as its capital. The Samanids Empire united the territory of Maverannakhr (Transoxiana) – the land between Oxus and Jaxartes and Khorasan (Eastern Iran). During their reign the Tajik nationality and Tajik (Farsi-Dari) language became dominant.
Samanids era was named as a golden age of culture, science and peace, which produced so many great people, such as RUDAKI – the poet and founder of Persian-Tajik classical literature, who developed genres and forms of the Persian-Tajik literature: masnawi, qasida, qit’a, rubai, ghazel and romantic lyric; ABU ALI IBN SINO (AVICENNA) – the world-famous scientist, philosopher and healer. Holy Quran was also translated into Persian at that time.
In the 16th century, part of present-day Tajikistan was included in the Bukhoro khanate (state ruled by khans) that was established by the Shaybanids, an Uzbek dynasty. Meanwhile the desolate Pamirs region remained outside the khanate and under the control of various local rulers and chieftains. In the early 1700s the Quqon (Kokand) khanate was formed in the Fergana Valley and included the city of Khujand (in present-day Tajikistan). By the mid-18th century the Manghits, another dynasty of Bukhoro rulers, rose to power in the region.
Nowadays, Ismoili Somoni considered being the forefather of Tajiks. His large golden monument, Tajikistan’s national symbol, was erected on Dushanbe’s main square. The national currency also named after him –Somoni. Moreover, Tajik highest mountain, formerly known as Communism Peak, was re-named after him (Ismoili Somoni Peak)
The Silk Road is the great trade artery, emerging in the 2nd century BC which played a key role in the civilization, development and diversity of present day Central Asia. It led to the foundation of numerous cities, the development of craft and trade towns and villages, caravanserais and the construction of many religious monuments and memorials.
Many routes of the Silk Road crossed the territory of present day Tajikistan. The chart of traverse of the road can be drawn as follows:
From Tashkurgan- Murgab- Wakhan Valley - to the North of Afghanistan
From Kashgar- Karategin – Dushanbe –to Mazar-i Sharif (Afghanistan)
From Fergana Valley – Khudjand – to Samarqand (Uzbekistan)
Since the Sogdians were one of the main powers of the Silk Road, the Sogdian language was the international interethnic communication language at that time.
For anyone wishing to follow the Silk Road in Tajikistan, the main route would be to start, if possible, at Samarqand in Uzbekistan. This was one of main cities and mercantile centre of the Sogdians. From there thousand of caravans would have journeyed to Penjikent, and then up the Zeravshan valley to Aini, and across the Shahristan Pass. The route continued to Istaravshan and another important city on the Silk Road, Khudjand, and then on to Osh and Kashgar. The heavenly horses would have been driven from here all the way to China.
There are other routes that passed through Tajikistan. A route came from Termez on the Amu Darya to Gissar, which has the best-preserved caravanserai in the country, then on to Dushanbe, and up the Rasht valley, over the Karamyk Pass to Osh in Kyrgyzstan.
There were other even more difficult routes through the Pamirs, along the Wakhan corridor and over passes to Tashkurgan.