The Republic of Tajikistan is a small country located in Central Asia northwest of the Tibetan Plateau. Tajikistan borders two other former USSR countries, namely Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Citizens of two more countries are also Tajikistan’s neighbors. These are Chinese and Afghani people.
Apart from the Tajik capital city, Dushanbe, the most significant Tajikistan cities are, a.o., Kulob, Qurghonteppa, and Khujand. Those four cities have the largest country airports where you can arrive and start your Tajikistan adventure.
It has been estimated that Tajikistan has a population of more than 9 million people. The country is landlocked, and the total Tajikistan area is about 143,100 square kilometers. To get to the closest sea, the Caspian Sea, Tajik citizens travel about 1200 kilometers.
Where is Tajikistan located? – Map
Interesting geographical features of Tajikistan:
- the lowest country point is Syr Darya – 300 meters above sea level
- the longest country river is Amu-daria
- mountain ranges make up most of the total area (93%)
- more than half of Tajikistan land lies at the height of over 3000 meters a.s.l.
- just a tiny percentage (7%) is located at the height of fewer than 1000 meters a.s.l.
- Ismoil Somoni Peak is the highest summit in the country, 7495 meters a.s.l.
- Murghab is the highest located city in the country
- 4100 square kilometers of the total country area are forested
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF TAJIKISTAN
Tajikistan used to be a part of the Persian Empire which can be visible in the currently spoken language in Tajikistan. Alexander the Great conquered the present territory of Tajikistan c. 333 BC. Next, between 7th and 8th c. Arabs conquered those lands and introduced Islam. Over the following centuries, various kingdoms ruled the country, e.g., Uzbeks and Afghans. Five centuries later, the whole land of Tajikistan was found in the hands of Chengiz Khan and, after his death, in the hands of his grandson.
In the 14th century, Timur created the great empire with the capital in Samarkand. Two hundred years later, Shaybanids, with the capital in Bukar, two centuries later took over the rule in Tajikistan. It led to the division of Tajikistan into Khanates, the former monarchy forms. Fergana Valley was the place of khanates origin. The present Tajikistan territory was divided into Khanates of Kokand and Bukhara.
More recent times
Looking further at the history of Tajikistan, the visible changes concern mainly the country’s new rulers. In the 19th. c., Russians conquered the Khanates and established their dominance in Central Asia. It was in 1924 when Tajikistan was named Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. During WWII, about 300,000 Tajik people were incorporated into the Red Army to fight against the Nazis. After the war and later time, Tajikistan was the poorest and the least developed republic of the Soviet Union. The Gorno-Badakhshan used to be and still is the poorest Tajik region.
The historical breakthrough took place in 1991 when with the dissolution of the USSR, Tajikistan gained independence. It was the time when the Tajik language started to gain importance. However, almost immediately, Tajikistan had to face the civil war. About 100,000 people died, while over one million lived in extreme poverty in Tajikistan and outside the country.
Since 1994, the country has been permanently ruled by Emomalii Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan. His re-election is said to be the effect of bribery, which is quite a common phenomenon in Tajikistan.
HOW TO GET TO TAJIKISTAN?
If you are on a budget, you’d better organize a trip to Tajikistan on your own rather than in an organized group. The second option may be quite expensive, and you are able to explore the country for a fraction of the sum that you would have to pay for traveling with a travel agency.
If you speak Russian, it’s good for you! But don’t worry, paradoxically, you will manage to communicate in English, not only in large cities but also, e.g., in Pamir.
If you choose the airplane option to get to Tajikistan, you can arrive at one of the four airports in the country. More information on Tajik airports can be found in a separate post.
Travelers can get a train from Moscow to Dushanbe. Such a route takes 3 days. However, it may not be effortless in terms of formalities as you need to obtain separate visas to all the countries the train is going through, i.e., Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and obviously Tajikistan.
Another train offers the route from Saratov, Russia, to the capital city of Tajikistan, via Samarkand in Uzbekistan.
The train can be the best option for those who love travels using this mode of transportation. The stunning views from the window are guaranteed!
You can get to Tajikistan by choosing one of three available road routes.
The first one is a motorway between the Afghan city Mazar-i-Sharif to Dushanbe. However, the route is rather used by local drivers rather than foreign travelers.
The second route also heads to Dushanbe, and it is via Tursunzoda that starts in the neighboring country, Uzbekistan, precisely in Samarkand.
Those traveling through Kyrgyzstan should take the Pamir Highway to experience an unforgettable adventure. Even though the route takes at least 6 days of bone-jarring driving, it’s worth the while to explore this, probably the most remote and breathtaking region worldwide.
HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND TAJIKISTAN?
Rent a car with a driver
The best way to travel around Tajikistan is to hire an off-road vehicle with a driver. The prices are around 1$/km and about 20$ per day. Moreover, you have to pay for meals and a place to sleep for the driver. All is the matter of making a deal with him in terms of hours and road limits. Knowledge of Russsian can really help. Such a driver will also be the best guide to show you around and tell where you should eat and sleep so as not to be ripped off.
Rent a car and drive on your own
On the other hand, if you don’t like to be guided by anyone, you can hire a car without a driver. You won’t find international car rental in Tajikistan, but private companies offer the cars for rent. The price for hiring such a car is about 150 $ per day. You have to add the cost of around 100$ for the notarial act of handing over the vehicle. The car insurance is included.
This option is rather for those who are really brave. When driving a car without a local driver, you should be prepared that you will need to pay bribes at every police station.
Marshrutka or shared taxi
Among the most popular transportation modes used by tourists are marshrutka and shared taxis. It is also the cheapest way of road communication in Tajikistan. Taking marshrutka, you can, for example, get from Dushanbe to Hisar. However, marshrutka offers transport only within local roads. In the majority of cases, you will need to choose shared taxis. They are a bit more expensive than marshrutka. Taxi drivers collect the maximum number of passengers and head in a particular direction.
Tajikistan is a destination for those travelers who aren’t afraid of adventures. Actually, just the very presence in this country is a huge adventure. In many Tajikistan regions, one can forget the world awhile and take some rest.
If you prefer comfortable trips, well-planned in advance, and you are a travel person who doesn’t like unexpected twists, Tajikistan would rather not be for you. In turn, wild trip enthusiasts will feel here at home.
To experience one of the greatest adventures in your life, apply for your e-Visa and travel to Tajikistan!