A country in Central Asia. It is bordered by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Afghanistan. The area is 55,251 square miles (143,100 km 2 ).

Mountains, particularly the Pamirs, cover most of the country. In the Pamirs lies Communism Peak, which, at 24,590 feet (7,495 m), is the country's highest peak. The principal river is the Amu Darya; other rivers include the Pyandzh, Vakhsh, Zeravshan, and Syr Darya. Most of the inhabited areas—mainly valleys in the northwest and the southwest—have a climate marked by scant rainfall, hot summers, and cold winters.

Agriculture, a major economic activity, is made possible largely by irrigation. Main crops include grains, cotton, and various kinds of fruit; livestock consists chiefly of sheep, cattle, and goats. Many minerals are mined, including coal, petroleum, natural gas, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. Although Tajikistan is not highly industrialized, it is a significant producer of textiles (cotton and silk), processed foods, and leather goods. The basic currency unit is the Tajik ruble.

In 1989 Tajikistan had a population of 5,112,000. Dushanbe, the capital, had a population of 604,000. About 60 per cent of the people are Tajiks; the rest are chiefly Uzbeks and Great Russians. Tajik, an Iranian tongue, is the official language. Russian is also widely spoken. Islam is the predominant religion. Tajikistan has a parliamentary form of government.

Russia gained most of the region that now makes up the republic by defeating the emir of Bukhara in 1866 and establishing a protectorate there in 1868. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Tajikistan was divided between two soviet republics—Bukhara and Turkestan. In 1924 it was made an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan; in 1929 it became a union republic.

After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Tajikistan became independent and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States. In the spring of 1992, a coalition of forces opposed to Tajikistan's pro-Communist government rebelled and ousted the government for a short time. After renewed fighting, many rebels fled to Afghanistan, where they received support. In 1993 Tajikistan signed a collective security treaty with Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Peace-keeping forces from these nations were deployed along the Tajik-Afghan border.

In 1994, in a national referendum, Tajik voters approved a new constitution, making the country a parliamentary republic. The new constitution abolished the office of chairman and reestablished the office of president. Emomali Rahmonov was elected president. Meanwhile, fighting with the rebels continued. An Iranian-Russia-sponsored peace agreement that allowed rebels some power in the government was signed in 1997; renewed fighting threatened the accord in 1998. Rahmonov was reelected in 1999 and 2006. In March, 2007, Rahmonov ordered all Tajiks to drop Russian-style last names to signify a break with their Soviet past. Rahmonov changed his name to Emomali Rahmon.