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TAJIKISTAN

Last updated on April 12, 2001

Kidnappings, downtown shootouts, poverty and desperation - Washington DC? No, it's Tajikistan. This beleaguered Central Asian republic has its own flag, a national airline and a scattering of embassies abroad, but despite these emblems of sovereignty it remains a curiously incomplete and terribly troubled country. The north of Tajikistan is in all but name a part of Uzbekistan; the mountainous Pamir region, despite Soviet attempts to populate it, remains almost a vacuum; while the capital, Dushanbe, a city not yet three-quarters of a century old still feels like an apartment awaiting its tenants. The high point of the country's unparalleled scenery are the Pamirs, which dwarf anything found outside Nepal. The Pamir Highway provides all the high-altitude thrills you could ever hope to get without donning crampons.

That Tajikistan was easily the most artificial and ill-equipped of the five Soviet-fashioned Central Asian republics was tragically illustrated by the way it bloodily fell apart as soon as it was free of direct rule from Moscow. Civil war raged until a late-1996 ceasefire, and in mid-1997, Iran, Russia and the United Nations got together to broker a peace agreement. Despite celebratory dancing in the streets of Dushanbe and hopes for a peaceful future, the country has proved far from stable, surviving on a drip feed of credits and loans from Moscow while the Pamiris survive on the largesse of the Aga Khan. Visitors should definitely check the latest security situation before turning up.


Map of Tajikistan:

Tajikistan

Facts at a Glance:

Full country name: Republic of Tajikistan
Area: 143,100 sq km (88,722 sq mi)
Population: 6 million
Capital: Dushanbe (pop 700,000)
People: 65% Tajiks, 25% Uzbeks, 4% Russian
Languages: Tajik, Russian, Pamiri, Pamiri dialects, Sogdian
Religion: Over 80% Muslim (mostly Sunni), plus Ismailism and Russian Orthodox
Government: Republic
President: Imamali Rakhmanov


Political Developments:

Tajikistan is a nation undergoing profound political and economic change. It is a newly independent nation still in the process of stabilizing its internal political situation as well as its relations with neighboring states. Although the 1992 civil war, which was caused by regional economic and political differences, largely subsided by March 1993, there continues to be sporadic fighting along the Tajik border with Afghanistan between remnants of the Tajik opposition and Russian border guard forces. In June 1997 a peace agreement was signed between the government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) under which the government promised to lift the ban on all parties of the United Tajik Opposition in order that fair and democratic elections can take place. The signing of the peace agreement opened a new window of opportunity for economic reforms. In spite of this major step for the peace process, Tajikistan is still plagued by occasional outbreaks of violence led by regional warlords and disgruntled UTO guerilla leaders. In August 1998, four United Nations military observers were killed in the eastern part of the country, and in November 1998, an armed rebellion in Khujand, in the northern part of the country, led by Colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiyev and former premier Abdumalik Abdullojonov was defeated by government troops after intense fighting. The Tajik peace process suffered an additional blow when, in May 1999, UTO leaders pulled out of the National Reconciliation Commission following the government's refusal of the opposition's demand for greater influence in the power sharing coalition.

Tajikistan is located at a crossroads of major world civilizations--Russia, Turkey, Iran, India-Pakistan, and China--and has been influenced by each. Russia, China and India share an interest in restraining Islamic fundamentalism, while Iran and Pakistan vie to reinforce Tajikistan's Islamic identity. Russia and Tajikistan's fellow Central Asian neighbors--Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan--have been concerned about drug and gun running across the borders as well as Islamic fundamentalism, and have mostly supported Tajikistan's secular regime. Russia has been concerned to safeguard the 90,000 ethnic Russians still residing in Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, to safeguard the 1.5 million ethnic Uzbeks residing there. Discrimination against ethnic Russians in Tajikistan has increased and fuels a continuing exodus. The only political violence in Dushanbe has been a number of killings of ethnic Russians, usually soldiers, which has been of little comfort to Russian civilians.

Tajikistan's neighbors in the region, in particular Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation, maintain great influence over the course of internal Tajik politics. Russia, which already has 25,000 armed troops in Tajikistan (largely Russian CIS peacekeeping forces), tentatively agreed in April 1999 to the establishment of a military base which would help increase the stability in Tajikistan. Due to the geography of the region and the whims of Soviet planners, Tajikistan is largely at the mercy of Uzbekistan for all overland and rail transport. Tajikistan has moved to reduce its energy dependency on Uzbekistan by signing a tripartite agreement on trade, economic, and cultural relations with Turkmenistan and Iran. Turkmenistan provides Tajikistan with reduced cost fuel and natural gas as part of the agreement. The government of President Emomali Rakhmonov is dominated by Tajiks from the southern Kulyab region who were victorious in the 1992-93 civil war. The November 1994 Presidential election, while peacefully conducted, was marred by fraud and intimidation, as were the February 1995 parliamentary elections. Tajikistan also adopted a new constitution in November 1994, which, while not a perfect document, is still judged to be a significant improvement over the Soviet-era version.

Political relations with the United States are on a cordial footing in spite of the temporary suspension of Embassy operations in Dushanbe in the fall of 1998. This decision was made due to concerns about threats to U.S. facilities worldwide, turmoil in Tajikistan, and a limited ability to secure the safety of personnel in their facility. This suspension is temporary and the State Department intends to resume operations as soon as a suitable new site is identified and a more secure facility for the Embassy can be built.


Hotels in Dushanbe:

Tajikistan
Address: 22 Shotemur St.
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-55-45
Fax : (+992 372) 21-33-79
The three-star Tajikistan Hotel (8 floors, 255 rooms) is located in the city centre. The Presidential Palace, the Square of Freedom, theatres, the Central Park of Culture and Leisure are close to the hotel. Airport - 20 minutes. Railway station - 15 minutes.

Aviesto Hotel (formerly October Hotel)
195/1 Rudaki Ave., Dushanbe
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-11-75, 21-04-64, 21-16-47

Vakhsh Hotel
24 Rudaki Ave., Dushanbe
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-40-31, 27-53-93


Restaurants in Dushanbe:

Restaurant Elite
Varied selection of European and Tajik dishes with Elite specials. Any dish by preliminary order. Full desert table and wide bar selection. Soft music and nice Western interior. No credit cards accepted. The most expensive restaurant in Dushanbe. Cash only.
$25-40 per person.
Location: Chapaev St. (opposite Radio House)
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-25-12
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bar-Restaurant Polonaise
Exquisite European and Tajik cuisine (red and black caviar, sturgeon, trout, mushrooms, beef, lamb, smoked meat, and chicken.) Any course by preliminary order. Natural juices. Wide bar collection. Exclusively nice design. Cash only.
$5-20 per person.
Location: 35/1 Bohtar St., 2nd floor (in building of Avtotranstechnika)
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-25-26
Hours: 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

Restaurant Continent
Mostly European cuisine with Continent specials. Delicious desert. Wide range of Moldovan, Bulgarian, licensed French and Italian wines. Any dish on preliminary order. Nice indoor and outdoor seating. Cash only.
$5-20 per person
Location: 32 Buhoro St.
Tel.: (+992 372) 21-44-98
Hours: 12 p.m.-till last client


Area Telephone Codes:

Country code992
Dushanbe372
Bokhtar37745
Dusti3249
Gharm3131
Kairakkum34402
Khorog35220
Khujand3422
Kairakkum34402
Kolkhozabad3771
Kulob3322
Kairakkum34402
Panjakent3475
Qurghonteppa3222
Kairakkum34402
Shartuz3240


Environment:

At 143,100 sq km (55,800 sq mi), landlocked Tajikistan is Central Asia's smallest republic. More than half of it lies 3000m (9840ft) or more above sea level. The central part encompasses the southern reaches of the Tian Shan range while the south-east is raised high up in the Pamirs. Within these ranges are some of Central Asia's highest peaks, including Pik Lenina (7134m/23,400ft) and Pik Kommunizma (7495m/24,580ft). The western third of the country is lowland plain, bisected by two narrow ranges. Two rivers, the Amu-Darya and the Pyanj, mark most of the country's 1200km (740mi) border with Afghanistan. Tajikistan's other borders are much less well-defined: In the east the 430km (266mi) border with China meanders through Pamir valleys, while to the north and west are the equally random-seeming borders with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Tajikistan's mountains are the setting for high, grassy meadows worthy of The Sound of Music. In summertime the wildflowers (including wild irises and edelweiss) are a riot of colour and trout lurk in the rushing streams. Marmots and pikas provide food for eagles and lammergeiers; the elusive snow leopard preys on the ibex, with which it shares a preference for crags and rocky slopes. Forests of Tian Shan spruce, larch and juniper provide cover for lynx, wolf, wild boar and brown bear.

Lowland Tajikistan veers between extrememly hot summers (an average maximum of 42�C/108�F in July) and extremely chilly winters (an average minimum of -12�C/10�F in January). From October through May, fierce snowstorms rage in the mountains and the temperature can drop to -45�C (-49�F), making getting around almost impossible. On the plains, strong duststorms can be expected from June through October. These winds can last for five days or more. After the storm passes, it can take as long as 10 days for the dust to settle.


History:

The Tajiks are descended from the Persian-speaking Iranian stock that once predominated in Central Asia. They were part of the empires of the Persians and of Alexander the Great and his successors, and in the 7th-8th century AD they were conquered by the Arabs and were thus Islamicized. Successive migrations of Turkic peoples into the region over the centuries also influenced Tajik culture. The Tajiks were ruled by the Uzbek khanate of Bukhara from the 15th to the mid-18th century, at which time the Afghans conquered those Tajiks living south of the Amu Darya.

Russia took over much of Tajikistan in the 1860s. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, portions of Tajikistan were included in the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and in the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic. In 1924, however, these two portions of Tajikistan were consolidated into a newly formed Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which was administratively a part of the Uzbek S.S.R. until the Tajik A.S.S.R. gained full-fledged republic status in 1929. The Tajik S.S.R. gained independence from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991 and adopted the name Tajikistan. From 1991 Tajikistan experienced sporadic conflict as the communist-dominated government struggled to combat an insurgency by Islamic and democratic opposition forces.


Economic Overview:

Tajikistan is in a very slow transition from a command economy to a more market-oriented economy. Difficulties abound with the disruption of established trade routes, civil unrest, natural disasters, and an absence of the traditional Soviet-era inputs that came from Moscow for over seventy years.

The collapse of the trade and payment system, the deterioration of the terms of trade, and the absence of union transfers from Moscow, which had been the main method of funding Soviet Republics during the Soviet period, have inflicted significant damage to Tajikistan's economy. The move from a command economy under the Soviet system to a more open and market-oriented economy has been an onerous task, replete with legislative, institutional, and cultural obstacles. These obstacles have been compounded by civil war and natural disasters. As a result of political instability, Tajikistan has been late in receiving the international monetary assistance and foreign investment that other former Soviet Republics have already received. On the economic front, the government of Tajikistan now appears to be ready to do the work necessary to receive international donor support and to return Tajikistan to the standard of living experienced prior to the outbreak of the civil war.

With the assistance of the IMF, Tajikistan has established a three-stage economic reform process designed to carry the country into the next century. The first stage (mid-1995/1997) focused on improvement in the legal infrastructure, reforms in the agricultural sector, privatization of small-scale enterprises, and creation of favorable conditions to attract foreign investors. The second stage (1998- 2000) presently focuses on the privatizing of large-scale enterprises, and establishing efficiently- functioning banking, credit and taxation systems. The third stage (2001+) will focus on the further modernization of the economy, the formation of an efficient infrastructure and the implementation of large scale socio-economic programs.

There appears to be a good degree of political will behind the reforms and their implementation. Progress has been slow, but steady. Partially to reward the government's implementation of some economic reforms and to encourage more, international financial organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank have begun an infusion of credit to Tajikistan which should straighten the path of economic reform. On June 15, 1999, the World bank approved three credits worth a total of $31.7 million with $20 million being used to support the privatization of farms.


Privatization:

The Government of Tajikistan has outlined plans to accelerate the pace of privatization and to form a securities market in 1997. While most of the small retail enterprises have already been privatized, only 11 percent of medium and large enterprises have been privatized. In most cases the government has maintained a share of more than 40 percent of privatized enterprises. While leveraged buyout has been the preferred method of privatization, the program has reportedly been plagued by corruption.

The current share of the private sector in GDP is approximately 20-30%. Obstacles to the growth of the private sector include difficult entry and exit rules, lack of finance, limited access to business information, strict labor regulations and an incomplete legal framework.

Enterprise restructuring began in 1991 but stalled as a result of the war and political instability and has yet to gain momentum. A Law on Bankruptcy was passed in June 1992 but few companies have been forced into bankruptcy. The 1995 decree on "The Identification of Bankrupt Enterprises" represents an effort to speed up rehabilitation and restructuring of inefficient enterprises.


Culture:

The most revered figures from Tajikistan's Persian past are the 10th century philosopher-scientist Abu Ali ibn Sina, author of two of the most important books in the history of medicine, and the poet Rudaki, court poet in Bukhara in the time of the Samanids. Tajiks also venerate Firdausi, a poet and composer of the Shah-nameh (Book of Kings), the Persian national epic, and Omar Khayyam, of Rubaiyat fame, both born in present-day Iran but at a time when it was in the same empire as Tajikistan.

When Tajikistan was hived off from Uzbekistan in 1929, the new nation-state was forced to leave behind its cultural baggage. The new Soviet order set about providing a replacement pantheon of arts, introducing modern drama, opera and ballet. The policy paid early dividends and the 1940s are considered a golden era of Tajik theatre. A kind of Soviet fame came to some Tajik novelists and poets, such as Mirzo Tursunzade and Sadriddin Ayni, the latter now remembered more as a deconstructor of national culture because of his campaign to eliminate all Arabic expressions and references to Islam from the Tajik tongue. Since independence there has been something of a cultural revival in an attempt to foster a sense of national identity. The success of Tajikistan's most popular living writer, Taimur Zulfikarov, is attributed to his ability to mimic the ancient Persian style of writing and, in doing so, to appeal to nationalist sentiments.

Most Tajiks are Muslim (Sunni) but they are not, by and large, militant or particularly strict. Though the harnessing of Islamic sentiment has been a stronger political force in Tajikistan than in other Central Asian republics, the rural, often semi-nomadic lifestyle preferred by most Tajiks is unsuited to central religious authority. Many older Tajik men continue to dress in long quilted jackets, knee-length boots and embroidered caps. Women of all ages favor psychedelically colored, gold-threaded long dresses with striped trousers underneath and head scarves to match.

In these days of civil strife and economic chaos, meat often gives way to vegetables on the Tajik dinner table. Chickpea samsas or porridge are common, as are soups made from beans, milk and herbs. Tuhum barak is a tasty egg-filled ravioli coated with sesame seed oil. Chakka is curd mixed with herbs, and delicious with flat bread. When meat (usually mutton) is available, it's often made into tushbera (steamed dumplings), served plain or with vinegar or butter.


Events:

Most Tajiks have more on their mind than splashy partying. Public holidays include New Year's Day (January 1), International Women's Day (March 8), Labour Day (May 1) and Victory Day (a commemoration of the end of WWII for Russia on May 9, 1945).

The spring festival of Nauryz ('New Days') is by far the biggest holiday. It's an Islamic adaptation of pre-Islamic vernal equinox or renewal celebrations and can include traditional games, music and drama festivals, street art and colourful fairs. Important Muslim holy days, scheduled according to the lunar calendar, include Ramadan, the month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting; Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebrations marking the end of Ramadan; and Eid-ul-Azha, the feast of sacrifice, when those who can afford to, slaughter an animal and share it with relatives and the poor.


Public Holidays:

February 23Army Day
March 8Women's Day
March 20-22Noruz (date depends on vernal equinox)
May 1International Labour Day
May 9Victory Day
September 9Independence Day
Changeable holidays:Eid Al FitrEid Al Adha


Facts for the Traveler:

Citizens of most countries must obtain a visa in order to enter Tajikistan. Visas cannot be obtained at the border.

Visitors from other CIS countries are now also required to obtain a visa before travel to Tajikistan. However, citizens of the CIS Customs Union member states (Russia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) do not need a visa.

Transit Visas

When the CIS was formed, the "72 hour rule" allowed visitors to transit through one CIS state for up to 72 hours if they held a visa for another member state. As of 1 February 2000, it is no longer possible to use a Tajik visa to transit through Uzbekistan, Russia or Kazakhstan.

At the time of writing, Kyrgyzstan still upholds the 72 hour rule. However, it is still recommended that you obtain a Tajik visa before attempting to travel to Tajikistan.

Restricted Areas

Special permission is required to travel to some parts of Tajikistan, including the eastern province of Badakhshan, and the Nurek hydroelectric power station. If you intend to visit these areas, you should request that they be included on your visa. Permission can also be obtained on arrival from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Time: GMT/UTC plus 5 hours

Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz using European two-pin plugs (round pins, no earth connection). Bring a torch.

Health risks: Hepatitis A & E, altitude sickness, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid, undulant fever, and a slight risk of malaria in the south. Don't drink the water, even if the locals say it's OK to drink.

Weights & measures: Metric


Money & Costs:

Currency: Somoni

Meals

  • Budget: US$1-10
  • Mid-range: US$10-20
  • Top-end: US$20 and upwards
Lodging
  • Budget: US$1-10
  • Mid-range: US$10-90
  • Top-end: 90 and upwards

Outside of Dushanbe and Khojand, services are scarce and costs highly unpredictable. As a rough guide, if you twin share in modest hotels, get your food from cheap restaurants and street stalls and travel by bus and train, you should be able to keep daily costs to around US$25-40 a day. Budgeteers relying on trains, streetside cafes or bazaars and truckers' hostels may need little more than US$10 a day. Foreigners often pay substantially more than locals for services, and there's not much you can do to avoid this. Watch for budget blowers like imported beer and chocolate bars.

Banks may not even have a currency exchange counter, but tourist hotels will often change money. It's often hard to get small bills, but you should try to avoid ending up with wads of large notes in local currency since few people can spare much change. In fact, in much of Tajikistan there is a physical scarcity of money so if you do find a supply of somoni and the rate is fair, consider changing enough for your whole stay. In the Pamirs, the 'economy' operates on a bartering system. Credit cards are most useful for picking your teeth. Tipping runs counter to many people's Islamic sense of hospitality, and may even offend them. Shops have fixed prices but bargaining in bazaars is expected.


When to Go:

As summers are ferociously hot and winters bitterly cold, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) are the best seasons to visit Tajikistan. If you do decide to battle the winter, be aware that many domestic flights are grounded and finding food can be a problem since lots of eateries close for the season.


Attractions:

Dushanbe

With a cool backdrop of mountains, lazy tree-lined avenues and pale, oriental-fringed buildings, Dushanbe may be a good-looking city but personality-wise it's a dead loss. It's an historically isolated backwater that's boring by day and dangerous at night. The large, covered Barakat market is what passes for the centre of activity in Dushanbe, though it's not particularly interesting; the city has many other makeshift bazars, but they're harrowing affairs composed of lines of people trying to sell whatever they can find at home - a pair of old shoes, coverless books, a dismantled washing machine motor, anything that somebody might conceivably trade a little cash for.

The city does have two interesting museums: the professional Museum of Ethnography, which showcases Tajik art such as pottery, carpets, jewellery and musical instruments, and the Tajikistan Unified Museum, which has interesting exhibits on history, natural history and art. It's worth seeing a performance at Ayni Opera & Ballet Theatre since it has the finest interior in the city.

Khojand

Khojand is the capital of northern Tajikistan and the second largest city in the country. It's also one of Tajikistan's oldest towns, founded by Alexander the Great more than 2300 years ago. Commanding the entrance to the Ferghana Valley, Khojand enjoyed great prosperity and its riches spawned palaces, grand mosques and a citadel, before the Mongols steamrollered the city into oblivion in the early 13th century. A less spectacular Khojand was rebuilt and unobtrusively weathered the travails of Central Asian history, only to find itself victim to Soviet gerrymandering in 1929 when it was scooped out of the rest of the Ferghana Valley and plonked in the Tajik SSR; the rest of the valley was incorporated into the Uzbek SSR.

Secure behind the Fan Mountains, Khojand has managed to escape the ravages of Tajikistan's civil war, and has always been safe for travel. It remains the wealthiest part of the country, producing two-thirds of the country's industrial output. It's a comfortable, relaxed city with few spectacular attractions, but its pleasant river and grassy parks make it a fine place to drop out for a day or two. Khojand's Panchshanbe Bazar is a typical Central Asian market that bombards with sights, sounds and smells. The modest, relatively modern mosque, medrassa and mausoleum of Sheikh Massal ad-Din are also worth a visit.


Off the Beaten Track:

The Pamirs

They're known locally as Bam-i-Dunya (the Roof of the World) and once you're in the Pamirs, it's not hard to see why. They are the node from which several of the world's highest ranges radiate, including the Karakoram and Himalaya to the south, the Hindu Kush to the west, and the Tian Shan straddling the Kyrgyz-Chinese border. A network of high, wide valleys nestles amongst the 7000m (23,000ft) plus peaks, but for the most part the Pamirs are too high for human settlement. Instead the slopes and valleys are inhabited by hardier creatures such as the Marco Polo sheep, the elusive snow leopard and the even more elusive 'giant snowman'.

The Pamiris who inhabit the high altitude valleys speak a multitude of Pamiri dialects and are Ismailis, a breakaway sect of Shia Islam. They have no mosques, no clerics and no weekly holy day. The spiritual leader of the Ismailis is the Aga Khan, a Swiss-born businessman and horsebreeder revered by the Pamiris as a living god. It's the Aga Khan's charity that currently provisions the area, keeping starvation at bay, since the Pamiris backed the losing side in the civil war and haven't exactly been inundated with government aid.

Not having two potatoes to fry together has done nothing to lessen the hospitality of the Pamiris, whose natural inclination is to share. Since travel in the Pamir region is beset with obstacles - such as the absolute dearth of transport and food - you will no doubt experience this hospitality during your visit. There are plenty of isolated farmsteads along the mountain routes and these operate as rough-and-ready guesthouses. You can expect to be offered floor space, a pungent sheep-skin blanket and a hot bowl of sher chay, tea with goat's milk, salt and butter. To avoid the acute discomfort of discovering that your host has just slaughtered the last family chicken in your honour, bring all your own provisions into the area since there are no shops or eating houses in the Pamirs.

The main town in the region is Khorog (pop 22,000), the capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badahkshan. It lies 2000m (6560ft) above sea level, strung out irregularly along the slopes of the dashing Gunt river. The flight from Dushanbe to Khorog is one of the most exhilarating (and terrifying, depending on your confidence in Tajik pilots) you'll ever have the (mis)fortune to make. For most of the 45-minute flight the aircraft scoots along mountain valleys, flying in the shadow of rockfaces with its wingtips so close you could swear they were kicking up flurries of snow. If you get nervous, console yourself with the knowledge that only one plane has failed to make the trip in recent years - and that was shot down by rocket fire from Afghanistan.

Pamir Highway

The route from Khorog to Osh on the M41 Pamir Highway is a mind-blowing, suspension-wrenching, two-day, 728km (450mi) traverse on a badly-surfaced road that's worth every dizzying headspin you get from the relentless hairpin bends. The road is no pushover since large sections have been ripped away by landslides and avalanches, leaving only precarious, deeply rutted tracks of frozen mud, but the views, the drive across the Pamir plateau and the crossing of the 4655m (15,270ft) Ak-Baital pass are spectacular. Note that there is no accommodation along this highway, so be prepared.


Activities:

Much of what would be prime hiking territory is prowled by men with weapons - get local advice on where to steer clear in the Pamir. The Fan mountains, at the western end of the Alay range along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, are far from civil strife and safely accessible. The safest way to go trekking is through a reliable agency and with a guide, though you're advised to bring your own equipment since gear is hard to come by. The best trekking season is between June and September, though be prepared for bad weather at any time.


Getting There & Away:

Tajikistan International Airlines has weekly flights from Karachi, Delhi and Munich to Dushanbe. Aeroflot flies between Moscow and Dushanbe a few times a week. There are also irregular charter connections from Dushanbe to Aleppo and Abu Dhabi. There's a railway route from Moscow through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan with a branch line from Tashkent to Dushanbe or Khojand. Daily buses connect Dushanbe with Tashkent and Samarkand.


Getting Around:

Tajikistan has a fairly good road network and during the summer months (mid-May to October), the whole country is accessible by road. Most major routes are served by privately-operated marshrutkas as well as public buses.

In the winter, the situation changes. The Anzob pass connecting north and south Tajikistan closes in the autumn. Access between Khujand/Penjikent and Dushanbe is possible by air, or by taking a long and circuitous route through Uzbekistan.

Access to Tajikistan's Pamir region, likewise, is only possible by air in the winter. Even in summer, the short flight is often preferred to the endurance marathon of the (mostly unsurfaced) Kulob-Khorog road.


Trekking & Tour Operators:

The Great Game Travel Company Limited
19 Echo Hill, Royston, Herts, SG8 9BB, Great Britain
Tel./Fax: +44 (1763) 22-00-49
E-mail: aubyn@thegreatgame.co.uk
URL: http://greatgametravel.co.uk

Mountain Travel and Central Asia Tours
Geolog Village, Penjikent, Tajikistan
Tel.: +992 (3475) 5-31-34, +992 (3475) 5-50-88
Fax: +992 (3475) 5-31-34
E-mail: amtravel@khasanov.bcc.com.uz
URL: http://www.central-asia-tours.uz

Sayoh: Tajikistan State National Travel Company
14 Pushkin Street, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 734095
Tel./Fax: +992 (372) 23-14-01
E-mail: sayoh@traveltajikistan.com
Web site: http://traveltajikistan.com/sayoh/


Recommended Reading:

Journey to Khiva by Phillip Glazebrook and Apples in the Snow; A Journey to Samarkand by Geoffrey Moorhouse are accounts of travel in Central Asia on what turned out to be the eve of independence.

Moorhouse's book was published in the USA as On the Other Side; A Journey Through Soviet Central Asia.

The Silk Road: A History by Irene Frank and David Brownstone is a well illustrated and mapped history of the caravan routes that began crossing Central Asia in the 2nd century BC. Central Asia; A Traveller's Companion by Kathleen Hopkirk is a handy historical background to the region.

The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk is a very readable history of the 19th-century cold war between Britain and Russia as it unfolded across Europe and Asia.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling is the master storyteller's classic epic of the Raj during the Great Game.


Useful Links:

General Information
Useful general information site on state, culture and society of Tajikistan
Tajikistan web recourses

Embassies, Consulates and Visa
US embassy in Kazakhstan (The US does not have an embassy in Tajikistan, neither does Tajikistan have an embassy in the US)

Travel Agencies and Travel Tips
The Lonely Planet
Consular Information Sheet provided by the US State Department
Travel Tajikistan: excellent site.

Miscellaneous
IMF and Tajikistan
Tajik holidays
Tajik Economy
Encyclopedia Britannica
BISNIS, Business Information Service in the Newly Independent States
Many links for cultural aspects connected with Tajikistan
Yellow Pages of Tajikistan

Last updated on April 12, 2001


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