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The Samanid Empire is one of Tajikistan's most prominent empires, lasting from 819 to 999. After the Arab conquest led to the collapse of the Sassanid Persian Empire, the Samanid Empire was the first Persian empire to rise again. With the rise of the Samanids came the return of Persian culture to the region, as well as increased trade with Europe. The region was later ruled by the Qarakhanid Turks. Tajik is the name given by the Turks to describe Persian speakers.
The Russian Empire invaded and controlled the region beginning in the 19th century, and during this time the borders of Tajikistan were formed. The country became an autonomous region of Uzbekistan in 1924, as Soviet Tajikistan, though it soon became a separate constituent republic. As the result of a civil war in Tajikistan between opposition parties, the country became independent in 1991.
Tajikistan shares borders with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and Afghanistan, with Pakistan located just across the Wakhan Corridor.
Tajikistan is a landlocked country located in Central Asia with mountainous terrain. More than half of this smallest country in the Central Asian region is characterized by the Pamir Mountain range. The highest point in Tajikistan is the Ismoil Somoni Peak, which stands 7,495 meters (24,590 feet) above sea level, but much of the country is situated above 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).Some of Tajikistan's mountains are home to glaciers, which flow into the Aral Sea as they melt. Some important lakes in Tajikistan are the Kayrakum and Nurek Reservoirs, Shadau Lake, and Iskanderkul.
The lowland regions include the Fergana Valley and the river valleys of the Kofarnihon and Vakhsh Rivers. Along the border with Afghanistan, two other important rivers are the Amu Darya and Panj. The Syr Darya river is the country's lowest point.
Tajikistan is home to many historical locations, with architectural and cultural sites. The capital, Dushanbe, offers museums, parks, and cultural events like theaters and ballets. The 13th century Fort Hissar and madrassa is a historic site, once destroyed during Soviet invasions and rebuilt. Other historical attractions include towns along the Silk Road, like Isfara, old cities such as Istaravshan, which is home to an ornate mosque and the Abdullatif Madrassah, and the historic city of Penjakent, home to ancient ruins.
The major airport in Tajikistan is the Dushanbe Airport, which offers service to many Russian and Central Asian cities, as well as some European destinations. Air travel is also an important way to get around the country when winter conditions make ground travel through the mountains difficult. There is railway service to Moscow, Uzbekistan, Turkemenistan, and Kazakhstan, as well as between urban centers of Tajikistan. Ferries are available to cross the rivers along the border with Afghanistan to enter the country that way. The international roads are available and frequently traveled, but the conditions of these roads vary and border crossings can be limited. Within Tajikistan, shared taxis are a common way to get around. The capital, Dushanbe, offers public transportation in the form of the trolleybus system, which has several routes on electric trolleys.
Last Updated : November 17, 2014