28 interesting facts about Tajikistan

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The most interesting facts about Tajikistan, from the world’s second-highest road, the Pamir Highway, to a capital city called Monday.

Interesting facts about Tajikistan include the stunning Pamir Mountains
Interesting facts about Tajikistan include the stunning Pamir Mountains (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Tajikistan
Capital city: Dushanbe
Population: 8,873,669
Area: 144,100 sq km
Major languages: Tajik, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Russian
Time zone: UTC+5 (Tajikistan Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Tajikistan

1. Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Landlocked nations are entirely surrounded by land and do not have access to the open sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries in the world as well as five partially recognised nations.
– Source: CIA World FactbookThe Telegraph

2. Tajikstan means “place of the Tajik (people)”. The Persian suffix “-stan” means “place of” or “country” so the word Tajikistan literally means “Land of the Tajik [people]”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

3. Tajikistan has been inhabited since at least the 4th millennium BC. The UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Sarazm shows the remains of settlements dating from the 4th to the end of the 3rd millennium BC. It is one of the oldest in Central Asia.
– Source: UNESCO

The UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Sarazm
The UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Sarazm (Shutterstock)

4. During the 13th century, Genghis Khan conquered Tajikistan, along with the rest of Central Asia, which became part of the Mongol Empire.
– Source: BBC News

5. From 1860 onwards, Tajikistan became divided, with the north coming under the control of Russia while the south was annexed by the Emirate of Bukhara.
– Source: Britannica

6. In 1929, after initially being part of the Turkestan (1918–24) and then the Uzbek (1924–29) Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs), Tajikistan became a fully-fledged constituent republic of the USSR as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic.
– Source: BBC News

7. The flag of Tajikistan is horizontally striped red-white-green with a central gold crown. Green stands for agricultural production, red is a “symbol of state sovereignty” and white stands for the cotton that had made Tajikistan famous. The crown has an arc of seven gold stars above it which represent unity among the different social classes of the country, including workers, peasants and intellectuals.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Tajikistan
The flag of Tajikistan (Shutterstock)

8. In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tajik republic declared independence and adopted the name Tajikistan.
– Source: BBC News

9. A civil war followed anti-government demonstrations. The war lasted from 1992 to 1997 and led to the deaths of at least 20,000 people.
– Source: Radio Free Europe

11. Tajikstan was at the heart of the historic Silk Road, a vast network of ancient trade routes that connected China with Europe and the Middle East.
– Source: New York Times, UNESCO

12. One of Tajikistan’s most striking beauty spots is the lake of Iskanderkul, a mountain lake 4km long and located at 2,195m high. The lake takes its name from Alexander the Great and is believed to be where his horse, Bucephalus, drowned in a battle. The water appears to change colour during the day from turquoise to milky white.
– Source: Lonely Planet, The Guardian

Iskanderkul Lake
Iskanderkul Lake (Shutterstock)

13. Tajikistan is extremely mountainous with over 90% of its land considered upland.
– Source: Lonely Planet

14. At over 7,000m high, the Pamir Mountains are known locally as the “Roof of the World”.
– Source: Reuters

15. The UNESCO-listed Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs is located at the centre of the so-called “Pamir Knot”, a confluence of the highest mountain ranges on the Eurasian continent.
– Source: UNESCO

16. The Fedchenko Glacier, in the Pamir Mountains, at 77km is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions.
– Source: NASA Earth Observatory

The Fedchenko Glacier
The Fedchenko Glacier in the Pamir Mountains (Shutterstock)

17. In total, there are at least 1,085 glaciers listed in the site along with 170 rivers and more than 400 lakes.
– Source: UNESCO

18. Tajikstan is home to the world’s second-highest dam. The Nurek is built across the 70km-long Nurek Reservoir.
– Source: Lonely Planet

19. In 2016, Tajikistan also began building what is expected to become the world’s tallest dam. The planned 335m tall Rogun Dam will be higher than the 305m-high Jinping-1 Hydropower Station in China. Construction is expected to be completed in 2028.
– Source: BBC News, Britannica

20. Tajikistan is home to the world’s second-highest road, the Pamir Highway. Also known as the M41, the Pamir Highway is renowned for its spectacular scenery and remote route.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The world’s second-highest road, the Pamir Highway
The world’s second-highest road, the Pamir Highway (Shutterstock)

21. In 1907, Tajikistan was hit by one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes. 12,000 people died when two earthquakes struck the Qaratog and surrounding mountain villages in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
– Source: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

22. Tajikistan’s capital city was named after a day of the week. The city was originally located at the crossroads where a large market occurred on Mondays. Dushanbe means Monday in Persian: the second day (du) after Saturday (shambe).
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

23. Tajikistan has the world’s second-tallest flagpole. At 165m, the Dushanbe Flagpole was once the tallest flagpole in the world, until 2014 when Saudi Arabia broke the record with a 171m flagpole in Jeddah.
– Source: Reuters, Guinness World Records

The Dushanbe Flagpole
The Dushanbe Flagpole (Shutterstock)

25. Millions of dollars worth of opium (heroin) passes through Tajikistan every year. The country shares a 1,300km border with northern Afghanistan where 90% of the world’s heroin is produced. The CIA call it “one of the world’s highest volume illicit drug trafficking routes”.
– Source: Economist, BBC, CIA World Fact Book

25. Villagers in the mountains of Tajikistan used to dupe visitors into looking for Yetis (or “Abominable Snowmen”). Villages would have a designated ‘Yeti witness’ whose job was to guide visitors to remote valleys where sightings were supposedly taking place and charge them a fee for the service.
– Source: BBC Travel

26. At 3,186m, Tajikistan has the world’s third-highest average elevation after Bhutan and Nepal.
– Source: The Telegraph

Interesting facts about Tajikistan include the stunning Pamir Mountains
The Pamirs account for several interesting facts about Tajikistan (Shutterstock)

27. Tajikistan’s national sport is gushtingiri, a form of traditional wrestling. Traditionally, towns were divided into mahallas (districts) and each district had its own alufta (tough) who was the best wrestler. The alufta, usually a respected community member, was frequently challenged by lower ranked individuals.
– Source: Encyclopedia.com

28. The winter sport of Buzkashi is also played in Tajikistan. Played on horseback, the game originates in Persia and is similar to polo. The aim is to scoop up a dead carcass (usually a goat) and land it in a goal.
– Source: Lonely Planet


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