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TajikistanTajikistan simply means "place of the Tajiks" as the word stan comes from the Persian meaning "country" or "place of." The word Tajik doesn't refer to the Tajik people in this setting. Tajik in reference to the people is a relatively new term; rather the name is in reference to the original meaning of Tajik, which is a word to describe any Persian-speaking people; a term that comes from the Turkic languages.



The lifestyle in Tajikistan begins with the geography as this tiny mountainous nation boasts some of the world's most impressive mountain peaks, including the Pamir Mountains. The country is landlocked, but numerous rivers running down from the mountains give the country plenty of river valleys, which have proven to be ideal for farming and life, making the lands sparsely populated and somewhat isolated, but self-sufficient.

Although most of the country has conditions and weather patterns that prevent life, the valleys are home to the bulk of the population as the earliest people settled here to farm, scavenge, hunt, and later rise animals for food. As the seasons changed so too did the people's ease of survival, but the people have survived through history and this isolation has created a fairly unique culture.

As people came and went through the region that today makes up Tajikistan, the ethnic Persian eventually arrived and settled the region. Like the people from the past, these people settled in the valleys as it was the only hospitable place to live. Over time the locals and new settlers intermarried, but the people remained closely tied to the Persian people through language, culture, food, and lifestyle; as changes occurred in Persia they usually also influenced the way of life for the Tajiks, who are very similar in many ways.

Among the most important introductions from Persia was Islam; most of the people converted to this religion and even today nearly every Tajik is Muslim. The influences from the north had the greatest impact with the arrival of the Mongols. The Tajiks, in many ways, inherited Mongol power, which was for some time centered in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand (both in modern day Uzbekistan) as the Silk Trade routes rose in importance. At the time these cities were run by the ethnic Tajiks.

The Silk Trade Route brought new people to the Tajik-controlled lands and daily life shifted to focus on economic progress as people urbanized and began to open and run small shops; prior to this the majority of people worked as farmers. Unfortunately, when the Silk Trade Route fell so did much of the economy in Tajikistan.

When the Russians and the Soviets arrived, first in the late 1800s, but only fully taking control in the early 1900s, they pushed the Tajik people further east, removing the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara from their rule as they suppressed religion. In some ways this actually encouraged stronger feelings of pride in being Tajik, but it also vastly altered the way of life for the people as people were forced onto farms or factories.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Tajikistan has made a return to its roots, but numerous Soviet introductions have remained as well. The people remain a very humble people who continue to work on farms and in factories as the economy is domestically focused. Religion has returned and there is a clear expression of their Persian past as their foods reflect that of Iran, although Russian foods are now available as well. As the country remains economically starved, the people continue to focus on family and survival with few funds to purchase modern day luxuries or even cars as the remnants of the Soviet public transportation system dominate the country. Today the culture strongly reflects that of their past in both Soviet changes as well as Persian roots.

Information for Tajikistan was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks