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A map of TajikistanA map of Tajikistan Nearly all of Tajikistan is mountainous. The highest mountains are the snow-capped peaks of the Pamirs, which rise in the east near the borders with Kyrgyzstan and China. This towering range is sometimes known as the “Roof of the World”. Other chains, including the Gissar Range, cut across the west of the country. Here, rivers such as the Syr Darya and Vakhsh carve steep valleys through the mountains. In the southwest, these valleys open out into the only lowland areas in Tajikistan. Here there is a a dry, continental climate. Summers are very hot, while winters are extremely cold. High in the mountains, it is cooler all year round.

A map of TajikistanA map of Tajikistan
Clearing an irrigation channel, Zeravshan ValleyClearing an irrigation channel, Zeravshan Valley

People and farming

About two-thirds of the country’s people are ethnic Tajiks. Their language, Tajik, is a modern form of the ancient Persian language, related to Iranian. A large number of people also speak Russian, especially in the cities. Most people live in the western valleys. Here, the land is flat, but there is little rainfall. The crops have to be watered using systems of irrigation, or by diverting glacial streams into the fields.

Farmers grow grains and cotton, as well as fruit, such as apricots, and vegetables. In mountain villages, people keep sheep, cattle and goats for their wool, meat and skins.

In 2007, Tajikistan’s President Rakhmonov made a new law forbidding newly-born babies to be given Russian surnames. He dropped the ‘-ov’ from his own name, becoming President Rakhmon.

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