Tajikistan (Listeni/tɑːˈdʒiːkɨstɑːn/, /təˈdʒiːkɨstæn/, or /tæˈdʒiːkiːstæn/; Тоҷикистон [tɔd͡ʒikɪsˈtɔn]), officially the Republic of Tajikistan (Tajik: Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон, Çumhuriji Toçikiston/Jumhuriyi Tojikiston; Russian: Респу́блика Таджикистан, Respublika Tadzhikistan), is a mountainous landlocked sovereign country in Central Asia. With an estimated 8 million people in 2013, it is the 98th most populous country and with an area covering 143,100 km2 (55,300 sq mi), it is the 96th largest country in the world in terms of area. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east.
The territory that now constitutes Tajikistan was previously home to several ancient cultures, including the city of Sarazm of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including the Oxus civilization, Andronovo culture, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Achaemenid Empire, Hephthalite Empire, Samanid Empire, Mongol Empire, Timurid dynasty, and the Russian Empire. As a result of the breakup of the Soviet Union Tajikistan became an independent nation in 1991. A civil war was fought almost immediately after independence, lasting 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.
Tajikistan is a presidential republic consisting of four provinces. Most of Tajikistan’s 8 million people belong to the Tajik ethnic group, who speak Tajik, a dialect of Modern Persian, although many people also speak Russian. Mountains cover more than 90% of the country. It has a transition economy that is dependent on aluminum and cotton production, its economy is the 126th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 136th largest in terms of nominal GDP.
In 2013 Tajikistan, like many of the other Central Asian countries, was experiencing major development in its transportation sector.
As a landlocked country Tajikistan has no ports and the majority of transportation is via roads, air, and rail. In recent years Tajikistan has pursued agreements with Iran and Pakistan to gain port access in those countries via Afghanistan. In 2009, an agreement was made between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to improve and build a 1,300 km (810 mi) highway and rail system connecting the three countries to Pakistan’s ports. The proposed route would go through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the eastern part of the country. And in 2012, the presidents of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran signed an agreement to construct roads and railways as well as oil, gas, and water pipelines to connect the three countries.
The railroad system totals only 680 kilometers (420 mi) of track, all of it 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 27⁄32 in) broad gauge. The principal segments are in the southern region and connect the capital with the industrial areas of the Hisor and Vakhsh valleys and with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Most international freight traffic is carried by train. The recently constructed Qurghonteppa – Kulob railway connected the Kulob District with the central area of the country.
In 2009 Tajikistan had 26 airports, 18 of which had paved runways, of which two had runways longer than 3,000 meters. The country’s main airport is Dushanbe International Airport which as of April 2015, had regularly scheduled flights to major cities in Russia, Central Asia, as well as Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kabul, Tehran, and Ürümqi amongst others. There are also international flights, mainly to Russia, from Khujand Airport in the northern part of the country as well as limited international services from Kulob Airport, and Qurghonteppa International Airport. Khorog Airport is a domestic airport and also the only airport in the sparsely populated eastern half of the country.
Tajikistan has two major airlines (Somon Air and Tajik Air) and is also serviced by over a dozen foreign airlines.
The total length of roads in the country is 27,800 kilometers. Automobiles account for more than 90% of the total volume of passenger transportation and more than 80% of domestic freight transportation.
In 2004 a bridge between Afghanistan and Tajikistan was built, improving the country’s access to South Asia. The bridge was built by the United States.
As of 2014 many highway and tunnel construction projects are underway or have recently been completed. Major projects include rehabilitation of the Dushanbe – Chanak (Uzbek border), Dushanbe – Kulma (Chinese border), Kurgan-Tube – Nizhny Pyanj (Afghan border) highways and construction of tunnels under the mountain passes of Anzob, Shakhristan, Shar-Shar and Chormazak. These were supported by international donor countries.