Up until 1924 one could hardly find a state named "Tajikistan" on geographical maps, though the world of culture was well aware that large cities and fertile valleys of Central Asia had long since been inhabited by Tajiks.
Tajiks belong to ancient nationalities. Their ancestors inhabited the territory of Tajikistan and other parts of the Central Asian region in great antiquity. Judging from archaeological findings, primitive men lived on the territory of the Republic about half a million years ago. There are settlements dating from Mesolithic and Neolithic periods that have been excavated in mountainous areas.
In the first half of the first millennium the Bactrians and Soghdians, the two slave-owning states of Central Asia were inhabited by the Bactria and Sogdiana (the ancestors of contemporary Tajiks). Numerous nomadic and semi-nomadic Saka tribes inhabiting the Pamirs, Tien Shan, and the Syr Dara valleys were also the Tajiks' ancestors.
Anthropologically, Tajiks are related to the southern Europeoids of the Transoxiana type. The Tajik language belongs to the West-Iranian group being part of the Indo-European linguistic family.
According to historians- orientalists the Tajik people have been formed into a nationality during the 9th and 10th century. As history shows the Turkic-Mongolian invaders occupied the best lands of the Tajik people and drove them back to the mountains. However, the Tajiks who are famous for having one of the most ancient histories and cultures, have greatly contributed to the progress of the world civilization. To mention a few world renowned Tajik poets, and philosophers such as Rudaki, Firdousi, Nasir Khosraw, Jami, Omar Khayam, and world famous scientists, Avicenna,(an outstanding scientist of encyclopedic learning) were all men of great learning.
The Tajiks have finally revived and established their own state-Republic of Tajikistan but only after the collapse of the Soviet power.
Tajikistan is situated in the South-Eastern part of Central Asia between the latitude of 36' 40' and 41' 05' north and the longitude 67' 31' and 75' 14' east. At about the same latitude as Tajikistan are situated the southern regions of Spain, Italy and Central Japan. The total territory of the Republic comprises 143.1 thousand km populated by 5.2 million people and stretching 350 km from north to south and 700 km from west to east. It should be noted that the present boundaries of the Republic (after the demarcation of Central Asian Republics in the 1920s) do not fully cover the territory inhabited by the Tajiks. The total border extent is 3,000 km, of which 1,400 km form the borderline with foreign countries (Afghanistan which is 1,030 km, and China which is 430 km). In the north and west the Republic borders mainly on the Kirghiz and Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan is a land of striking contrasts, unique landscapes, high-altitude zones, rare flora and fauna. Over 90% of its territory are occupied by the mountains. Its highest points vary from 300 m (the Vakhsh Valley) to 7.5 km (the Pamirs) above sea-level. Almost half of the territory of the Republic is at the absolute height of over 3,000 m. The mountain ranges and depressions of Tajikistan belongs to two immense mountain systems of Central Asia - the Tien Shan and Pamir. Massive ranges of Central Asia - Karakorum, Quenlun and Hindukush meet in the Pamir. The highest peak in the ancient USSR, is at 7,495 m, the Alpine lake with saltish water Karakul (3,914 m), the largest in the Central Asia Fedchenko glacier (77 km 800 m in thickness) are situated here.
By the surface relief the Pamirs is divided into two parts - the Eastern and Western, and the border in-between them runs along a conventional line to the east of the range of Academy of Sciences and further, through the Sarez lake to the river-head of Panj. High up in the mountains, in the realm of eternal snow and the largest glaciers, rivers harbouring enormous supplies of hydro-power are born. The number of the local rivers gives Tajikistan 6th place in the country after the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakh, Georgian and Kirghizstan, and by the specific provision per 1 sq. km , it is second to Georgia.
The potential hydro-power reserves of the rivers with the total length of over 10,000 km are evaluated at more than 30 million kilowatts.. As compared with other Central Asian Republics Tajikistan is rich in lakes too. There are nearly 1300 lakes, with the total area of over 700 sq. km (or 0.5% of the territory of the Republic).
The climate of Tajikistan depends on its geographical situation inside the continent of Eurasia on the verge of subtropical and temperate zones. Its features are; powerful solar radiation, aridity, little cloudiness, long duration of sunshine, marked extremes in the daily and seasonal temperature.
The flora of Tajikistan numbers more than 5000 kinds of higher plants. At the present time scientific and popular medicine uses over 400 kinds of herbs. Nearly 50 kinds of such herbs need protection. There is a variety of timber resources, though not very large. They occupy only 350 hectares, 90% of which constitute mountain forests and there is about 0.2 hectares of woods per 1 inhabitant of the Republic.
There is a great diversity of mineral resources in Tajikistan. This rich and generous land has long since been known for extracting large quantities of gold, silver, iron, copper, lead, tin, mercury, and stibium. A thousand years ago an alloy composition had already consisted of such modern metals such as zinc, manganese and nickel. An important part or raw minerals (especially gold, silver, precious stones; lal, lazurite, turquoise) were exported to the Near and Middle East, and even to Eastern and Western Europe. At present, nearly 40 kinds of raw minerals are mined in the Republic and on this basis, operate the works of the non-ferrous metallurgy, coal, oil, gas, chemical, jewellery and building materials industries.
The Tajik Republic is characterised by the speedy growth of population. The number of towns increased from seven in 1939 to nineteen in 1993. Such ancient towns as Khodjent, Pendjikent, Ura-Tyubeh, Kulyab have been revived and new ones -- Kalininabad, Kairakkum, Nurek, Rogun, Khorog -- have been constructed. Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is itself a new town with the population of over 600,000 people.
A powerful industry has been built in Tajikistan. It combines over 120 industries and includes 430 industrial enterprises, production, and and scientific associations. Plants and factories of Tajikistan produce details for agricultural machines, automatic looms, electrical apparatus, cotton-ginning equipment, cable, etc.
Electric power engineering is rapidly developing. In 1937, ninety-nine hydro-power stations were put into operation in the Republic, among the Varzob, Kiyrakkum, Sarband, Sharshar, Central, Nurek, Baipaza hydro-power stations. At present, 17 billion kilowatt per hour of electric energy is being generated in the Republic, 90% of which falls to the share of hydro-power. By the per capita production of hydro-power, Tajikistan takes the 4th place in the world after the USA, Canada and Puerto-Rico.
The main wealth of the land is cotton. Tajikistan is a principal producer of the fine-fibre cotton. Its record crops are reaped here. A large amount of silk cocoons is produced in the Republic, which is second to Uzbekistan by their production in Central Asia. Here on small plateaus and mountain slopes are grown cereals, geranium, flax, sesame, sunflower, fodder crops (alfalfa, maize, beet, grape, etc.) Rich harvests of lemons and pomegranates are gathered in hot-houses and pomegranate groves.
There are wide prospects for the future development of gardening, vine-growing and potato-growing in the mountain regions and foothills. The highest farming lands in Central Asia are located in Tajikistan. The cereal crops in the Pamirs are found at the altitude of 3,000 -- 3,400 m. Sheep, goats, horses, yaks are bred in the mountain pastures.
In the Soviet period, thousands of kilometres of modern motor highways and railways had been built in the Republic which formerly lacked roads. Highways run across passes and connect "the roof of the world" (the Pamirs) with other Republican centers.
Public education, health protection, science and culture have considerably developed. As early as in 1925, schools for abolishing illiteracy among the adults were organized throughout the Republic. Before the establishment of the Soviet power, no books and newspapers were printed here. Now, there appear thousands of schools, dozens of technical secondary schools, several higher educational establishments. Millions of copies of newspapers and books are published yearly.
An important part in the development of the Republic is the centre of learning -- the Academy of Sciences. To date, it incorporates 26 research institutes and offices. Over 4,000 scientists of the Academy work at problems of astronomy, economics, mathematics, chemistry, physics, geology, biology, and medicine.
The Tajik literature is one of the most ancient in the East. World-famous stars of the Tajik-Persian literature are Rudaki, Firdousi, Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna). In 1980 and in 1994 the world literature celebrated the 1000th anniversary of Firdousi's poem "Shah-nama"in Tajikistan. This immortal epic, full of humanistic ideas has preserved its importance up to the present day.
The art and literature of Tajikistan have flourished on the basis of creative assimilation of the heritage of the past and have been enriched by the new genres. Such kinds of the folk applied arts as ceramics, jeweller's art, decorative needlework, engraving are developing successfully. Of special interest is the distinctive applied art of the Tajiks. For thousands of years popular craftsmen have been perfecting their ornamental art. They have created original architectural monuments, decorated by engravings.
This mountainous land has unique monuments of nature, history and culture, reserves, beautiful mountain gorges that can attract foreign visitors' attention.
The Republic is rich in varied mineral resources. At present, more than 350 deposits have been prospected, about 100 of them are commercially developed, some 40 kinds of minerals are being extracted. The mineral resources are represented by poly-metals, rare metals and non-metallic deposits. Poly-metals by their zinc and lead deposits may rank with the large ones in the country. The metallic deposits are represented by antimony, mercury, strontium, tungsten, molybdenum, gold silver, bithmuth, iron, tin, cadmium and others. Various non-metallic deposits have also been found such as mica, fluorite, asbestos, talc, graphite, rock-crystal, sulphur, rock salt, quartz, dolomite, phosphorite, limestone, etc. Gemstones (lal, lazurite, turquoise, ruby) and jeweller's stones (jasper, obsidian, marble onyx) are also widespread.
The combustible mineral deposits (coal, oil, gas) are numerous, as well as the minerals for building material ones (gypsum, perlite, marble, various clays, loess-like soils, sand-gravel materials, sand, building stones and mineral dyes). The mountains and valleys of Tajikistan are rich in mineral healing springs.
Almost all known ore deposits are concentrated in three mountainous regions: Northern Tajikistan, Central Tajikistan and the Pamirs. By the diversity and mount of ore deposits the northern mining region (Kuramin and Mogoltau ranges) is markedly distinguished. By their ore content the proper polymetallic deposits (Altyn-Topkan, Kansai, Kurusai, Gudas), the silver-lead (Kanymansur, Zambarac, Taryelkhan) and lead (Tchuqurdjilga) deposits are notable.
The deposits of rare metals, coal, and non-metallic resources have been found in Central Tajikistan. The Central Tajikistan deposits are on the whole referred to Zerafshan-Hisser antimonial-mercuric belt which stretches from east to west for about 250 km. The largest of antimonial-mercuric deposits are: Jijikrut, Valangidaroz, Gurdarin, Konchoch, and others.
On the basis of the Jijikrut deposit, the Anzob mining-and-metallurgical combined plant is functioning. Here, the deposits of fluorite, valuable raw material for optic industry, have been discovered. Less convenient is the third ore-mining region, the Pamirs. The deposits of optical quartz, mica asbestos, talc, boron, tin, and gold have been discovered in the Vanch, Darvaz, Shahdary, Vakhan, and Shugnan ranges. Gold is known in the Pamirs since ancient times. This is evident by the signs of the preserved gold-placed mine excavations in Darvaz and the Central Pamirs. By the geologists' reports, in the end of the 19th century, the inhabitants of only three kishlaks in the Bartang river basin, produced 20 gold-tins for 3 to 4 months.
The Pamirs has a wide perspective for gemstones and jewellers' stones. In the south-western Pamirs vast deposits of noble spinel (lal), lazurite, corundum are found. While in the eastern Pamirs, in the Rangkul region, ruby, garnet, corundum, scopulite, coloured stones, and others have been found. The south-western Pamirs has not yet been studied and estimated in full measure, but specialists believe that by its scope of mineralization manifestations this region contains the most extensive deposits found anywhere else in the country.
The formation of combustible (oil, coal) and non-metallic (rock salt, building materials) minerals is connected with the rocks of Mesozoic and Tertiary age. The coal reserves were estimated for seven districts namely: Shurab, Fan-Yagnob, Maghian, Kshtut-Zauran, Nazar-Ailok, Ziddy, and Miyonad. The prospective coal deposits in the Republic are estimated in 3-4mrd tons. The most perspective are: Fan-Yagnob (commercial reserves-840 million tons) and Nazar-Ailok (about 140 million tons) deposits. Inside Tajikistan, two oil-gas bearing districts are distinguished: the northern (south-western part of the Fergana depression) and the southern (South-Tajik depression).
On the north of the Republic about 30 structures perspective for oil and gas were found and seven oil and gas-oil deposits (Airitan, Ravat, Kanibadam, Niyezbek, Kim, Northern Kanibadam and Madaniyat) have been discovered. On the territory of the Tajik depression two gas deposits (Komsomolskoye and Kzyl-Tumshuk) and five oil-fields (Shambar, Sulduzy, Kichik-Bel, Ak-Bashadyr, Beshtentyak) have been revealed.
Tajikistan possesses unlimited reserves of salt, taking one of the first places in Asia. There are over 50 deposits, most of them being known for a long time. Three main salt-bearing provinces may be outlined: South-Western Tajikistan (Khodja-Mumin, KhodjavSartis, Tutbula, Tanapchi, and other deposits); the western part of the Fergana depression (Kamyshkurgan); the Eastern Pamirs (Shorbel). The Khodjav Mumin and Kamyshkurgan deposits are exploited.
Tajikistan is rich in mineral waters different by their chemical and gaseous composition, the degree of mineralization, temperature and physical properties. A great number of mineral springs are located in Southern Tajikistan (Khodja-Obigarm, Obigarm, Yavroz, Shambari, Kaltuch, Garmova). The silicic acid content in nitric terms reaches 130mg/1, the water temperature is in the range of 38-98 C, its daily debit varies from 350 to 5,350 m 3. In cool carbonaceous springs (Sangkhok, Anzob) mineralization comprises not more than 2 g/1, the daily debit of carbonaceous water is 121 m 3. In Jilanda, Yaskhkul, Tokuzbulok in the Pamirs, the spring temperature is 35-74 C, mineralization is to 0.5 g/l. In hot carbonaceous springs (Garmchashma, Darshai, Langar, etc.) the temperature is 35-64 C, mineralization is 1.2-1.4 g/l. At the Garmchashma spring, unique in its nature, a local health-resort is functioning, the highest one in Central Asia.
The characteristic features of climate in Tajikistan are: solar activity, dryness and sharp-continental conditions. Such properties of climate can be explained by:
• location of Tajikistan at the northern boundaries of subtropical latitudes which results in a large quantity of solar heat;
• peculiarities of atmospheric circulation favourable for creating of fair, with some clouds, weather;
• positioning of Tajikistan inside the vase European-Asian continent, at a large distance from the oceans.
A long sunlight period which reaches an average 2500-3000 hours a year is characteristic of Tajikistan. This is approximately twice more than the annual sunshine hours in the vicinity of Moscow which reaches up to 1600 hours.
In winter, due to increased cloudiness, sunshine hours make up about half of the theoretically admitted values, in summer they reach 90%. As a result, Tajikistan receives a rather significant amount of solar energy.
As is generally known, the main reason of heat accumulation on the Earth's surface is the summary radiation, which consists of a solar radiation flux combined with the scattered heaven vault radiation.
The annual summary radiation over the territory of the Republic varies during the year from 150 kcal/cm 2 in the valleys to 185-190 in the mountainous regions. This amount of sunshine is quite enough to exploit it in various solar radiation engineering devices. The solar head abundance in Tajikistan creates favourable conditions for developing horticulture, vine-growing, for such heat-loving cultures as cotton, rice, lemon-trees on the one hand, and for resort business, on the other, where solar heat is used at the most valuable climatic-therapeutical factor.
But in the mountainous regions, apart from astronomical factors and cloudiness, the time of sunshine depends on orographic specificity that is, the slope exposition and the degree of the horizon shading by the surrounding ranges. The sunshine period decreases in narrow valleys on steep slopes and in concave relief. In some narrow gorges the straight solar rays may not get in at all.
The climate formation in Tajikistan is greatly dependent on the fact that it is remote from the Atlantic Ocean and protected by the mountain systems from the Indian Ocean, both being main sources of moisture in the atmosphere of Central Asia. However, due to the well-pronounced transfer of air masses over the territory of Central Asia, an enfeebled effect of the Atlantic Ocean's influence, but not the complete exclusion of it is being observed.
Latitudinal air mass circulation is periodically broken and the air flow acquires meridional component because of which latitudinal replacement of air takes place. Tropical air from the south brings rise in temperature, but cold air mass from the north penetrating far into the southern latitudes cause sharp cold spells. These phenomena are connected with the yearly transference of the Iranian branch of the Polar front dividing the air of moderate latitudes and that of the tropical continent one.
In summer continental tropical air causing predominance of hot dry weather prevails here. Tajikistan, situated in the sphere of the Polar front action, gets regularly under the influence of either cold Arctic, or hot tropical air. In winter, the continental air of moderate latitudes dominates over Tajikistan. The unstable weather connected with active cyclonic activity in the Polar regions is characteristic of this season. The cyclones entering the Central Asia region cause sharp weather changes: wind intensification, lowering of temperature, precipitations in the form of rain which under the invasion of cold Arctic air turns into snow.
In spring, when temperature collisions at the Polar front reach their maximum values, the revival of cyclonic activity begins in the southern regions of Central Asia, including Tajikistan, which stipulates the pronounced spring maximum of precipitations. The precipitations, in contrast to incessant winter ones, are of downpour nature in spring.
In autumn, the cyclonic activity slackens at the Polar region due to the decrease of temperature contrasts between the atmosphere of moderate latitudes and tropics which results in domination of dry warm weather in Tajikistan favourable for agricultural work.
The mountain uplifts in Tajikistan influence greatly the climate, being the regulator of most atmospheric processes. Though in the mountainous regions the weather conditions are determined by the same circulation processes as on a plain, the former undergo significant changes. With the height, the air temperature lowers, the delay of seasons and their replacement to the later time takes place.
The air temperature over the Republic's territory widely varies. The annual average air temperatures vary from 17.2 C. in the south-west to 6.9 C. in the Pamirs.; the winter (January) temperatures are respectively from +2 C to -26 C; the summer ones (July) are from -32 C to +4 C. The humidity regime is also influenced by the mountains. On the plains, a well-pronounced winter-spring precipitation maximum is registered, while in the summer season the precipitations are practically absent; in the mountains they fall out more regularly all the year round.
The orography complicacy and altitude variety produce a mixed picture of precipitate distribution. In the valleys of Northern Tajikistan and in the extreme south of the Republic, the annual amount of precipitation is under 200 mm, in piedmonts it rises to 400 to 600 mm. The mountain areas, which are the first to meet the moisture-bearing air masses (Hissar-Darvaz), intercept the most of precipitations. Here, on the windward slopes, up to 1500mm, in some places to 1800 mm of precipitations fall out. The areas in orographic shade receive significantly less precipitations.
Especially dry are Alpine valleys of the Eastern Pamirs where the annual amount of precipitation is 70 to 120mm.
The changes of meteorological elements with altitude stipulate the vertical belt climate in Tajikistan, reminding the changes of climatic zones when moving from south to north, but at the same time common features characteristic of a dry subtropical zone are observed everywhere in the belts.
On the territory of Tajikistan six climatic belts are distinguished -- from a very hot, depression-plain, with high summer temperatures and long frostless periods, which allows to cultivate many heat-loving plants, to a cold and nival one in the Alpine mountains with severe thermal conditions and large amount of precipitations, falling down during the whole year in a hard form and accumulating as eternal snow and glaciers.
The second large tributary of the Panj, the Bartang river, takes its origin in the Afghan territory, in its upper flow it is called Oksu. After its confluence with the Akbaital up to the Sarez lake, the river is called the Murgab and down the Ussoi blockage it is called the Bartang. The length of the river is 528 km, 37km of the river runs over the Afghan territory. The basin area of the Bartang is 24,700 sq. km. To the north of the Bartang, along the gorge of the same name, a characteristic mountainous river, the Yangusem, is running down out of the thick glaciers. It's length is 80 km, the basin area is 1,970 sq. km.
The next large tributary of Panj is the Vanch (the length is 103 km, the basin area is 2,070 sq. km.)
The second composing part of the Amu-Darya is the Vakhsh, its length is 524 km (without the Kysylsu), the basin area is 39,100 sq. km. It is formed by the confluence of the Kysylsu (northern) which has its origin in Kirghisia and the Muksu, the origin of which is in the region of the thickest glaciation centre in the Pamirs, consisting of such forms as the Fedchenko glacier, the largest one in Central Asia. After the Kysylsu and the Muksu confluence the river is called Surkhob, and after the confluence of the latter with the Obkhingow it becomes the Vakhsh river. In its middle and upper current the Vakhsh river-bed is compressed to several metres and in its lower current the Vakhsh divides into branches and flows over a wide valley. And after the Panj flows into the Vakhsh, the river is called the Amu-Darya, in which the Kafirnigan with its tributaries--the Varzob, the Khanaka and the Karatg inflows. The length of the Kafirnehan is 387 km, the basin area is 11,600 sq. km.
The Zerafshan river in its orographical and hydrological data is related to the Amu-Darya basin, a tributary of which it once had been. Nowadays it does not reach the Amu-Darya as it has been taken in full for the irrigation aims. It takes its origin in the Zerafshan glacier in the mountain arc Koksu. The length is 877 km, the basin area is 1,230 sq. km. The basin stretches in longitudinal direction from east to west with its boundaries along the ridges of Turkestan and Zerafshan ranges. The largest tributaries of the Zerafshan are the Fandarya, Kshtut and Magiyandarya.
The Syr-Darya river runs in Northern Tajikistan, over the territory of the Fergana valley. This is only a small transition part of the largest river in Central Asia. Waterfalls from southern slopes of the Quramin range and northern slopes of the Turkestan range do not reach the Syr-Darya, in most cases having been taken for irrigation.
Many rivers have steep waterfalls. In the Eastern Pamirs they flow down from the altitudes of 4,000-5,000 m into the plains located at 3,000-3,500 m; in the Western Pamirs they flow from 3,000-3,500 m to 1,200-1,500 m; in northern, central and souther parts of the Republic from 2,000-3,000 m down to 300-1,500 m.
Owing to steep falls and water abundance of the rivers, Tajikistan has tremendous resources of water power, constituting about half of the total Central Asia hydro-power resources. In the mountainous zone the rivers represent violent flows in narrow gorges or among abrupt terraces. The hardness of rocks composing the river beds and valleys promote the construction of water reservoirs and hydro-power stations.
Tajikistan compared to the other Central Asian Republics is rich in lakes. There are about 1,300 lakes which cover the total area of 705 sq. km. Mainly, they are small lakes with the surface area less than 1 sq.km. They constitute more than 97% of the total lake number and only 9% of their summary areas. The majority of the lakes are concentrated in the amir-Alai highlands approximately 78% at the altitudes of 3,500-5,000 m. It is here that the favourable conditions for their formation exist: the Alpine plateaux with small slopes, tectonic depressions, negative reliefs. The lower mountain and Piedmont zones have fewer lakes only 30 of them are located here. The lake bowls are various in their origin: tectonic, glacial, of blockage type and hydrogenous. To the lakes of tectonic origin belong such large reservoirs as Karakul, Rahgkul, Shorkul, and others.
The Karakul is the largest lake in the Pamirs and the third by its dimensions in Central Asia. It belongs to the highest Alpine lakes in the world (its absolute altitude is 3,914 m). It occupies the lower part of the tectonic depression surrounded by the highest ranges: Zaalai, Sarycol, Muzcol and Zulumart. Its surface area is 380 sq. km.
The Rangkul and Shorkul lakes are situated in the lower part of the Rangkul depression, at the height of 3,800-3,900 m, the surface area is 7.8 and 15.4 sq. km. respectively.The bowls of glaciogenic lakes have appeared due to the activity of both modern and ancient glaciation. They occupy the higher zones of mountainous territories at the altitudes of 4,000-4,500 m above sea-level. The example of such lakes are: the Zorkul lake, one of the largest in the Eastern Pamirs, situated at 4,125 m height with the surface area of 38.8 sq. km; the Chakankul, a group of three lakes in the Karajilgasai valley, at the altitude of 4,125 m above sea-level.
The blockage lakes are formed in the river beds in the result of rock falls, landslides and avalanches. For example the lakes such as the Yashiekul, Iskanderkul and Sarez, the youngest of the large Central Asian lakes. Often there are cases of the cascade blockage-type lakes forming. The Marguzor lakes in the basin of the Zerafshan are such examples.
To the Hydrogenous group the downfall lakes, the water-accumulating and water-erosion lakes are related. The lakes of this group can be found all over the Republic territory at different altitudes.
About 50% of the glaciation area in Central Asia relates to Tajikistan. There are more than 8,000 glaciers here with the area of 8.5 thousand sq. km. which is more than the area under crops in the Republic. Comparatively large amount of precipitation and low average annual temperatures create in the mountainous regions of Tajikistan such conditions, under which the accumulated winter hard precipitations cannot melt during summer and are collected as snow fields and glaciers; significant differences in physico-geographic conditions stipulate varieties of glaciation types.
Along with compact snow sheets and neve (snow fields) on the slopes of some ranges, as well as large glaciated areas, various types of small glaciers are widely spread. The main part of glaciation is concentrated on the territory adjoining the highest Central Asian peaks: the peak of Communism and the Lenin peak, comprising more than two-thirds of all the glaciation area. In the western regions of the Republic the ranges are not high enough, therefore, though being well moistured, they do not expose developed glaciation. Few glaciers are registered in the Eastern Pamirs due to small amounts of precipitation. A vast area of glaciation is noted in the place of the highest ranges joining: the Range of the Academy of Sciences, the Darvaz, Peter the Great, the Vanch and the Yazgulem ranges. This area is notable for the highest peaks, too, among them are: the peak of Communism, the peak of Eugenia Korzhenevskaya, the Revolution peak. From the Revolution peak to the north, the Fedchenko glacier slides down, it is the largest glacier in Central Asia. (its length is 77 km, the area with the tributaries is 651.7 sq. km. The upper reaches of the glacier with about tributaries are at the 7,480 m height, while its tongue lowers down to 2,910 m. The glacier ice thickness in some places is over 800 m, the ice volume is about 130 sq. km. To the north-east, the Grum-Grzhimailo glacier (142.9 sq. km.) flows down.
In the region of the Communism peak, at the junction of Peter the Great and the Academy of Sciences ranges, a complicated system of large radiating plain glaciers and a vase neve massif, known as "The Pamirs neve plateau" is situated. From the peak of Communism to the south-west, the Garmo glacier which is 114.6 sq. km. slides down; to the north-east, the Bivachni glacier which is 37.1 sq. km. is located, a tributary of the Fedchenko glacier; and at the foothills of the peak, in a narrow deep valley the Fortambek glacier is bedding.
The second significant glaciated area is at the junction of the Zaalai and Zulumart ranges where the Lenin peak is situated. On the slopes of the Lenin peak, a number of glaciers take their origin, the largest of them are: the October (88.2 sq. km.), the Great Sauqdara (53.0 sq. km.) and the Uisu (49.9 sq. km.).
However, the glaciated areas do not involve all the variety of glacial formations. Some ranges are not involved in the glaciated areas which contain a great number of glaciers, such as the glacial formations in Rushan, Muzkol, Shahdara, Hissar and Zerafshan. They are feeding a lot of water springs and comprise the basic stock of mountain glaciation in Tajikistan.
The altitudinal location of the glaciers is not similar and depends both on the climatic conditions and the glacier dimensions. As a rule, the larger glaciers slide down lower than the smaller ones. The averaged altitudes of the glacier lower boundaries are increased from west to east which is connected with the decrease of moisture content in the same direction. The glaciers in the Kafirnihan basin slide the lowest of all (3,650 m), in the Karakul lake basin (4,860 m) their border is the highest.
The glaciers influence greatly the formation of flow and regime of rivers in Tajikistan, as they are, first of all, the moisture accumulators for numerous rivers feeding; and secondly, they are natural flow regulators, giving up, in the process of melting, their water stock to the rivers in hot season when the need for water for agricultural purposes is especially high.
The flora of Tajikistan with over 5,000 species, as in any other country has marked zone characteristics and depends on such factors as humidity, exposition, relief, and winds. Vegetation zones are broken and are of different composition.
In the low-lying valleys there are predominantly wormwood deserts, in the flood-lands prevail riparian woods (tugai) consisting of Asiatic poplars, sea-buckthorn, rush and eriantus thickets.
In the mid-mountainous zones there are walnut woods, coniferous woods, very rarely, one may find steppes; in the Alpine zone there are meadows and steppes; deserts are even found in the Pamirs.
Tajikistan is the land of endemics, most plants grow only here. There are various kinds of beautifully flowering herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs adapted to extreme temperature changes, which are usual in the mountains, lack of water and abundance of sunshine in the lowlands.
Arboreal -- bushy zone occupies small areas with high damping. Broad-leaved forests are met in Central Tajikistan and Hissar -- Darvaz (up to 1,000 m and higher) rich in precipitation. In the lower arboreal-bushy zone (1,800 - 2,200 m) prevail walnuts. Usually walnuts grow together with the Turkestan maple, apple-trees, cherry-plums, such shrubs as honeysuckle, irgai and dog-rose. Very often the trees intertwine with wild vine. Nut - tree is one of the most valuable plants with excellent wood and useful fruit. The area under this kind of trees is being enlarged here.
Moisture - loving and cold - resisting, narrow - leaved woods including birch, poplar and willow trees are spread high up in the mountains, at the upper line of broad-leaved trees in the flood -- lands. Sea -- buckthorn is a very useful plant giving sea - buckthorn oil applied in medicine.
In the hot low desert zones there are the riparian woods consisting of Asiatic poplar and tamarisk. Riparian woods alternate with brushwoods of high grasses - eriantus and myar cane reaching the height of 2-5 m.
Woods are scarce in Tajikistan, but they are very rich in different forms. Over 150 species of trees and shrubs are found here. They have great economic and anti-erosive significance. An original Xerophytic plant - shiblyak- spreads out on the territory between the Kuramin Range in the north to the low mountainous areas of Southern Tajikistan. Predominant kind of trees are: pistachio trees, almond trees, nettle-wood, Judas tree, hawthorn. In some places there are thickets of shiblyak. Some tracts of pistachio trees occupy an area of nearly 200 thousand hectares in Southern Tajikistan. These trees give highly valuable fruits.
Archa (coniferous) woods occupy about 50% of the forest area in Tajikistan or often they represent sparse growth of trees on the feather grass steppe. Generally, three varieties of archa are found here - semispheric, Turkestan and Zerafshan; the most wide-spread kinds of grass are feather grass, couch-grass, and yugai. Shrubbery consists mainly of honeysuckle, currant, barberry, etc. Archa woods are of munch anti-erosive importance.
In the middle and lower parts of the Alpine zone one can often meet dog-rose rosariums combines with meadow and meadow-steppe vegetation. People favour the distribution of this type of vegetation, therefore it appears on the territories cleared of forests - in the maple, archa, and poplar woods as an anthropogenic kind of vegetation.
However, the dominant features of landscapes in the Republic are defined not by the arboreal, but semi-dwarf, dwarf and herbaceous vegetation occupying 50% - 60% of the total area. It spreads out in droughty places. Semi-dwarf plant communities are found in the low-lying deserts. In the mountains, dwarfs are represented by flat, drought-enduring cushion plants. Cushion plants and thorny-cushion bushes are original communities of Alpine, cold-resistant living forms of flat, cushion-shaped dwarfs composed of tangles of branches. In this way the plants have adapted themselves to the severe conditions of the Alpine zone. These kinds of vegetation are very typical of the mountains of Tajikistan.
The most drought-afflicted territories of the Republic are occupied by deserts. In the lowlands of the South-West Tajikistan they are overgrown with white and black saxaul, djuzgun, nettled-leaved goosefoot. In the low-lying deserts of Northern Tajikistan prevail wormwoods.
In the south on can meet salt-marshes. Deserts take up great areas in the mountains, low and mid-mountainous lands. The most wide-spread plants in the Alpine deserts of the Pamirs are grey sage, santonica wormwood. In spite of the scarcity of vegetation these deserts are of value as winter pastures. The stony substrata and talus have one more original type of vegetation close to coarse desert plants, generally called labiates, e.g. sage.
Herbaceous vegetation is no less varied than that found in the brushwood. It includes giant grasses, meadows, steppes, semi-savannas, umbelliferones, burrs.
Giant grasses are spread in swampy flood-lands of the lower reaches of Vakhsh, Kafirnihan and Panj.
Meadows are common for mid-mountainous (medium and tall grass) and Alpine (short grass) zones, they are not great in size and have low yield-capacity, but they are very important summer and autumn pastures providing carbohydrate and protein-rich fodder. Alpine meadows are strikingly beautiful. A great many endemics are found here, among them violet asters, primroses, etc.
Swamped low-grass Alpine meadows (saz) are typical of the Pamirs in places with excessive damping.
Steppes are limited in area, they are overgrown with different kinds of grasses, being main summer pastures.
Ephemeras growing in the lowlands of Tajikistan consist of bulbous meadow grass, desert sedge, etc. The most wide-spread types of grass in the foothills are wheat-grass and bulbous barley. Ephemeras tape up vast areas at the foot of the Hissar and Turkestan ranges, in the Fergana basin and along the banks of Zerafshan. They begin vegetating in December or January, at the start of the falls period. They develop most rapidly in March and April, covering the ground with thick green carpet full of bright flowers. In the dry hot period they fade completely and give way to wormwoods and other zerophytic plants. These are mainly autumn and winter pastures.
Two types of anthropogenic plants, such as umbelliferones and thorny grass are widely distributed in Tajikistan. Umbelliferones have developed in clearings of mid-mountainous and lower parts of the Alpine zones. Overuse of pastures resulted in the mass upgrowth of thorny inedible grass.
There is an abundance of plants in the richest flora of Tajikistan which have long since been used by the people. These are herbs (ab. 400 species), dye - plants (130) essential oil plants (60), tnniferous plants (100), food plants, resiniferous plants and many others. Of the Alkaloid-bearing drug - plants there are ephedra, henbane, stramonium. Some plants, like sophora, pyrethrum anabasis are used for making insecticide preparations. Here one can find a lot of fibrous plants valuable for pulp and paper industry. Some kinds of plants are used in domestic industry -- plaiting of baskets, mats, etc. The flora of Tajikistan is rich in gummiferous plants as well. A very valuable gum is contained in dgida. Saponin-bearing plants (ab. 12 species) are applied in soap-boiling. Among wild plants there is a great deal of bee plants and decorative ones. Most plants burst in beautiful flowers -- tulips, iris, anemone, eremurus, petilium, mallow. The majority of them are endemics and have been put down in The Red Book.(Red Book of Tajikistan; "Irfon" publishing House, Dushanbe, 1990)
The flora of Tajikistan abounds in commercially valuable kinds of plants producing food, medicine and other vital products. Many useful plants have long since been selected and cultivated by people here.
The richness and variety of fauna in Tajikistan is conditioned by the contrast of its landscape. On the highest mountain ridges, in deep ravines and hot depressions, relic species are preserved and new ones are born. Natural conditions of the Republic are good for the development of different kinds of animals. Here one can find typical "northeners" such as brown bear, hare, badger, stoat, gopher, Siberian ibex. There are plenty of Central Asian and Indo-Tibetan species also found, such as the Asian leopard, Himalayan ular, Tibetan wolf; Indian species such as porcupine, swallow, oriole; Afghan species such as moufflon, starling-maina, cobra, monitor lizard, thermits are also found. In Tajikistan there are 81 species of mammals, 365 species of birds, 49 species of reptiles, and over 10 thousand species of insects.
An abundance of warmth and irregular distribution of water in the low-lying hot deserts, scarcity of vegetation create an opportunity for the existence of animals which are adapted to these conditions. For this reason there are a great number of reptiles and insects, notably the grey monitor lizard, cobra, steppe little boa, big-eared lizard and many others. Birds are predominantly represented by the crested and bifasciated lark, saxaul sparrow, buzzard, carrion crow, blackbird. The most widely distributed species of mammals are rodents. In remote places one can find the steppe wolf and small herds of the Jherian antelope.
Diversity of the fauna in the riparian woods is striking. Here and there they remind of the impassable jungles, there is plenty of water and rich vegetation. The tugais of the lower reaches of the Vakhsh river are inhabited by the Bokharan deer - an animal of rare beauty, wild boar, jackal, jungle cat, etc. There are plenty of birds: black-and golden pheasant, heron, cormorants, sandpipers, different kinds of ducks. Here one can also find the hedge-hog, porcupine, badger, and tiny shrew.
The greatest diversity of the animal world is peculiar to the arboreal and shrubby zones. In the mountain forests live numerous mammals: boar, bear, wolf, hare, fox, stoat, lynx, ounce, marten, badger. High up in the rocks one may also find the mountain goats. On the mountain range slopes there are a great number of partridges, thrushes, daws, and various other birds. There is a multitude of diverse forms of insects. Rodents and reptiles are few.
The fauna of the Alpine zone is much more poorer due to the severe climatic conditions. Among the mammals one can find the wild ram, sometimes the marten, snow leopard, brown bear, wolves, marmots, hares, small rodents. Birds are mainly represented by the black griffon, golden eagle, horned lark, and others. The fauna of the insects is poor.
The fauna of the Eastern Pamirs differs from that of all the other mountain systems of Central Asia. Here is the habitat of the Tibetan partridge (ular), Himalayan fish duck, Indian goose, red duck, brown-headed gull, etc. The most typical rodents are the Pamirs and silver field vole, migratory hamster, long-tailed marmot. The prevalent kinds of carnivorous animals are : weasel, stoat, fox, lynx, wolf, bear, and snow leopard. There are also some kinds of the hoofed animals, notably the wild mountain goats and wild rams. The fauna composition of the Western Pamirs is close to that of the forest zone of Hissar and Darvaz.
There are up to forty kinds of fish in the lakes and rivers of Tajikistan. Some species of the fauna of Tajikistan are designed for professional hunting, the majority of them need preservation and protection, these are mentioned in The Red Book.
Large-scale exploitation of natural resources in the world has resulted in dramatic changes in some of the organic world complexes and elements, separate valuable species of animals and plants becoming extinct. Thus the need to take special care of the endangered species and natural landscapes. The setting up of strict and special natural reserves, national parks has been started in different parts of the world, natural monuments have been placed under the state protection.
At present there are three strict and 14 special nature reserves on the territory of Tajikistan. It is envisaged to establish a national park in the Pamirs. The Tiger Gorge is the first reserve which was organized in 1938. It was created with the aim of preserving the natural complex peculiar to southern deserts and flood-lands of Central Asian rivers, and protecting rare animals and plants. Here one can see real subtropical jungles, the only ones in the country, wild myar cane, djida, Asiatic poplar, willow, sea-buckthorn, etc., sometimes forming almost impassable brush-woods. They alternate with deserts, swamps, small lakes. The establishment of the reserve made it possible to hold up the extermination of the Bokharan deer (Khangul), Dzheiran antelope, Tajik pheasant. Now, the reserve has become the habitat of valuable and rare animals, such as the Persian otter, Bokharan deer, porcupine, pheasant. In the spring and summer periods there are a lot of birds of passage and for winter, one finds, in the waters ducks, geese, water hens, cormorants, marsh hens. Nearly all the year round the Tigre Gorge reserve is inhabited by wild boars, hares and foxes. Different and rare kinds of fish such as sazan, sheat-fish, barbel are also found in its rivers. The Tiger Gorge reserve is situated generally in the valley with an absolute height of 320-325 m above sea-level, only the Khodja-Kazian mountain ridges reach the height of 1,200 m above sea-level.
The Ramit reserve set up in 1959 occupies a territory of over 16 thousand hectares and is located in the Upper Kafirnihan. Its relief is very broken, with sharply varying absolute and relative heights from 1,176 m to 3,195 m above sea-level. The most widespread kinds of plants in the reserve are: silver-coloured poplar, birch wood, fir-groves, nut-trees, almond-trees, etc.
The reserve fauna is rather varied. Mammals are represented by the brown bear, in the upper reaches of mountain ravines one may find the porcupine, wolves; of the cat family there are only the lynx and snow leopard. Rivers are inhabited by otters. In the vicinity of the reserve one can find the Bokharan deers that were delivered from the Tigrovaya Balka reserve in the 1960s. The animals have acclimatized themselves to the mountain conditions rather quickly. Birds are represented by the Snow partridge, flycatcher, oriole, etc. One of the most valuable kinds of fish which is the mountain trout inhabits the rivers of the reserve.
The Dashti-Djum reserve was set up in 1983 and occupies an area of over 53 thousand hectares. The chief purpose of its organization was to preserve and protect the last population of the winding-horn goat (morkhur in Asia). In most of the zones of Central Asia the winding-horn goat has become almost extinct. These goats basically inhabit the almost inaccessible rocks rising above the banks of the mountain rivers. Other kinds of wild animals often found here are: wild boars, brown bears, urial, snow leopard.
Mountain forests and valuable species of animals are preserved in the following special nature reserves: Sarikhosor, Kamarow, Sangvor, Dashti-Maidon, Childukhtaron, etc. The Sarikhosor reserve is very rich in the mountain forests consisting of the walnut trees. The brown bear, the wild boar, the mountain goat and the urial thrive in this forests and they are also used for professional hunting . In one of the most picturesque places of the Republic, on the lake Iskander-kul and its neighbourhood, there is a special nature reserve "Iskander-kul" created in 1959. It is aimed at protecting the ecological balance of the natural complexes with regard for the future development of tourism there.
It is planned to create a national park on the territory of the Garam natural zone and the Pamirs. The northern part of it will border on Kirghizstan, in the north-west it will cover upper Obikhingow, in the south its boundaries will pass through the upper reaches of the Vanch, Yazgulem and Bartang rivers, including the lake Sarez. The park will cover the valleys of the Baland-kiik and Sauksay rivers, the Academy of Sciences and Zaalaiski ranges with the highest peaks of Communism and Lenin and the huge Fedchenko glacier, big lakes, a picturesque valley of the Obikhingow river, and the unique pre-Islamic historical monument of Hazrati Burch (over 3500 years). These complexes include all the landscape elements characteristic of Tajikistan.
Health Resorts and Development of Tourism.
By its natural and climatic conditions Tajikistan belongs to regions with the most favourable characteristics for the development of the recreational system.
At present there exists a network of health resort and recreational institutions consisting of 98 sanatoriums and rest homes (not counting those intended for 1-2 days of rest) with the placing capacity of 16,534. Many organizations and institutions have their own rest zones and bases.
Tajikistan takes on of the first places in Central Asia and Kazakhstan by the number of mineral springs. They meet all the requirements set to the healing waters. They contain various chemical elements actively influencing one's health. The majority of these waters have high natural temperature and are saturated with gases.
First records of the Tajik thermal waters date back to the 14th -15th century when ancient inhabitants used hot waters for treating different diseases and considered them to be sacred.
A comprehensive study of the balneological resources of the Republic started in 1932.
Reserves of mineral waters in Tajikistan allowed to open the "Obu-Garm", "Khodja-Obi-Garm" and "Shaambari" All-Union health resorts, the Republican sanatoriums "Zumrad" and "Ura-Tyubeh", the Khodjent physioclinic, and two hydropathics: "Kaltuck" and that of the "Communism" collective farm in the Kafarnihan region.
Medicinal characteristics of the "Khodja-Obi-Garm" health resort situated high up in the central mountainous part of Tajikistan are well studied. It is located 48 km to the north of Dushanbe, at the height of 1,840-1,960 m above sea-level, in a beautiful confluence of two small rivers. The place is indented by narrow, deep ravines. The mountain slopes are covered with the woody vegetation.
The disorders treated in "Khodja-Obi-Garm" include: Cardio-vascular diseases (hypertension, atherosclerosis, compensated heart failure, hypotension); diseases of motorial organs (arthritis and Polyarthritis, bone, muscle and sinew disorders); neurologic diseases (neuralgia, neuritis, polyneuritis, radiculitis, neurosis); disorders of the upper respiratory tract (bronchitis, bronchial asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases); gynaecological diseases (sterility, chronic endometritis); kidney diseases ;gastric and intestinal disorders; various degrees of obesity without marked changes of cardiovascular system.
"Obi-Garm" is situated on the left bank of the Obi-Yaimak river, 100 km from Dushanbe. The "Obi-Garm" spring has long since been far-famed among the local population. An official opening of this health resort took place in 1947. Judging from the reserves of thermal waters, "Obi-Garm" have very good prospects. It functions all the year round and receives more than 500 patients a year. The following disorders are treated here: nervous system diseases (lumbago, sciatica, polyneuritis, polyradiculitis, etc.); peripheral nervous system diseases (vegetative neuritis, solaritis; nerve injuries; diseases and after-effects of the central nervous system injuries; various chronic gynaecological diseases; skin diseases (eczema, psoriasis, neurodermatitis); diseases of motorial organs (arthritis and arthrosis, osteochondrosis, etc.)
Sanatorium "Zumrad" belonging to the "Isfara" health resort is the largest climatic-balneological multipurpose health-centre in Central Asia with the placing capacity of 365. It receives patients with the diseases of Cardio-vascular system (hypertension, coronary atherosclerosis, mitral and aorta valve defects); motorial organs (injuries of joints, muscles, sinews, bones, Polyarthritis, Bechterew-Strupell-Mari's disease, spondylitis); nerve system (injury after-effects, poliomyelitis); skin (psoriasis, lichen planus, psora); gynaecological disorders (after-effects of inflammatory diseases, adnexitis, functional ovarian insufficiency).
Sanatorium "Garm-Chashma" in the Pamirs is acquiring greater fame. Its mineral waters are especially effective for various kinds of skin diseases such as psora, lichen lanus, eczema, ichthyosis, paraapsoriasis, neurodermitis, and many others.
Sanatorium "Shaambari" situated on the southern slope of the Hissar range 1,100 m above sea-level, 26 km from Dushanbe was opened in 1953. Its mineral water is of a very high quality, it can be bottled and used as table water. "Shaambari" mineral waters are good for those suffering from gastric and intestinal disorders (gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcer, etc.); peripheral nervous system diseases (radiculitis, plexitis, neuritis); diseases of motorial organs; chronic brucellosis in the remission stage; various urological diseases.
In the last year large climatic-balneological health-centres, such as the "Ura-Tyubeh" sanatorium and health resorts of the Lenin collective farms in the Proletarian and Voseh regions of the Kulyab province began operating, The "Ura-Tyubeh" sanatorium is designed mainly for the patients with Cardio-vascular diseases.
Sanatorium "Khavatag" is located in the Fergana valley, 630 m above sea-level, on the northern foothills of the Fergana range, 25 km to the north-west of "Ura-Tyubeh". "Khavatag" means "mountain air". Hot mineral waters of "Khavatag" are useful for treating diseases of motorial organs; functional disorders of the Central Nervous System and particularly those of the peripheral nervous system; gastric and intestinal, skin and gynaecological diseases.
On the bank of the Syr-Darya river, in Northern Tajikistan, there is a Republican physiotherapeutic hospital, the first of its kind in Tajikistan, opened in 1929. Now it has 9 in-patient departments numbering 440 beds. Patients with various diseases are treated there.
Nowadays, the most effective way of recreation namely tourism is gaining wide popularity. The total annual number of tourists comprises over 800 thousand people.
Tourists bases of Tajikistan can accommodate 2,000 people. There are numerous tourist routes and the majority of them start from the tourist base "Varzob" situated in an attractive mountain ravine. At 300 m distance from it there is a beautiful lake with a sandy beach and boating station.
Most lovers of tourism prefer to spend their holidays precisely in the mountains. Even a short-term say there is very stimulating.
The most popular among various kinds of tourism are the mountain-walking routes: "The Fan mountains", "The mountain Khuttal", "Over the mountain ranges of Pamir-Alai", "Over the blue lakes of Central Tajikistan", "Over the ancient Silk Way", "Over the sours of Peter I mountain range", Along the paths of Sogdiana", "Along the traces of the snow man", "The Hissar range", "The Hissar ring", "The Fan ring".
In the recent years more and more people are taking part in amateur tourism, which is organised by the Tajik Federation of Tourism. Unlike many other kinds of sport, amateur tourism is available to many people, irrespective of age, sex, occupation, physical fitness. It is good for everybody -- those, who choose to go on travels collectively, together with the family or alone.
The nature of Tajikistan is exceptionally varied and beautiful. Here on can find hot subtropical depressions with surprisingly rich flora and fauna and high mountain ranges crowned with peaks rising beyond the clouds. Absolute heights of this mountainous land vary from 300 m to 7.5 km. Here is the highest point of our country which is the Communism Peak (7,495 m), the Fedchenko glacier, the greatest glacier situated in the mid-latitudes, Qara-qul, the highest saltish-water lake (3,914 m).
This is the land of a great many natural monuments, such as the falls and unique mountain lakes, caves and fantastic rocks, rare groves and giant-trees being of great interest both to naturalists and inquisitive tourists.
A natural monument may be an individual strange tree or a typical natural landscape, a hot spring or a cave with the rock carvings, stone pillars reminding of the figures of animals or human beings etc.
All the numerous natural monuments can be classified into four groups; landscape, geological, botanical and hydrological monuments. Here are some of the most interesting examples.
1. Landscape monuments.
The Archa-Maidan ravine located in the upper Kishtut valley of the Pendjikent region is one of the largest areas of coniferous woods within the Zerafshan and northern slopes of the Hissar ranges. It is a real densely growing forest tract. Juniper trees are 15 m high and 2 m in girth here. This natural monument has an aesthetic significance as well. It is situated on the way of a tourist route of the All-Union importance. The archa (fir-tree) woods have an economic importance too.
The Kuli-Varsant ravine in the valley of the Yagnob river is situated 2,600 - 3,000 m above sea-level in the Aini region. Its area is 500 hectares. Almost the whole territory is covered by screes and detrital rocks. There are the archa plantations with a rather high closed crowns. On the left side of the ravine there is a small, 25 m high water-fall, on the right side there is a grotto, the vault of which is laid with huge boulders fasted together by their own weight. This is a tourists' object.
The Childukhtaron ravine on the southern slopes of the Karateghin range is located in the Garm region. Its area is 1,000 hectares. It is especially interesting to see 3-5 m high rock pillars there reminding of women in parandjas. There is a legend about girls turned to stone while escaping from invaders. Not far from the row of the rock pillars there is a beautiful lake Samsalyk-kul surrounded by numerous springs. The northern slopes are covered with Tajik poplars and fragmentary plantations of walnut. The ravine may be used as a rest zone.
2. Botanical monuments
Planes are giant trees. The largest trunk of the eastern plane is found in the Malmurud village, on the southern slope of the Hissar range. Its diameter is 8.5 m, at the height of 2 m the main trunk is branched into three, one of which reaches 3 m in diameter.
In the vicinity of the Duguyamon village belonging to the Komsomolabad region, on the right bank of the Surkhob river, there is a 400-500 years old plane with the perimeter of 17.5 m and the height of 40 m. A giant plane with the trunk perimeter of 15.6 m and the height of 50 m is in the same region, in the neighbourhood of the Khilmoni village.
Soghdian Ash. This giant tree grows in the Tutkani ravine of the Sari-Khasor reserve in the Voseh region. It has the height of 20 m, trunk perimeter of 16 m and the crown width of 17 m.
In the crest-adjoining part of the Surkh-kuh range of the Kafarnihan region there is a poplar grove at the "Mazarimir" burial ground, consisting of 30 trees. They are nearly 40 m high and 3m in girth.
3. Geological monuments.
The Khodja-Mumin and Khodja-Sartis salt karst in the Kulyab province. The Kodja-Mumin salt dome is a massif of the purest salt, better known as a salt mountain or "hill". It is shaped as a huge helmet towering 880 m above the valley surrounding it (the absolute height is 1,332 m). It is seen from a distance of dozens of kilometres and because of the whiteness of salt the mountain seems to be covered withe the new-fallen snow. The dome is of an oval shape, it is 8.5 km across. Together with the salt massif Khodja-Sartis located nearby it belongs to the greatest salt diameters not only in Central Asia but in the world. The slopes of Khodja-Mumin are covered with the rich and varied vegetation.
The significance of the Kulyab salt domes is not just in their being the tourists' attractions, but in that they represent a natural scientific laboratory of the salt karst processes.
The Matamash cave situated in the Rang-kul foundation pit in the Eastern Pamirs has become famous for its fascinating legend about the allegedly hidden treasure there. At a distance of 2.5km from the lake Rang-kul there is a rock facing it. Approximately in the middle part of a smooth vertical wall (not less than 450 m high) one can see a semicircular entrance into the cave. Even from afar it is seen that the lower part of the cave is blocked up with big flat boulders resembling well-packed sacks.
"Burning mines" situated in the Kuhi Malik ravine opposite the Ravat village in the Aini region occupy an area of over 4 hectares. The mines are seen from a long distance due to the hanging over clouds of sulphuric ammonium chloride gases, shooting up from about 200 original pipes-craters and clefts. An unusual effect of the sight is intensified by the abundance of bright yellow, green-blue and snowy colours covering the slope surface like peculiar lichen. In future, the "burning mines" may become an ideal nature laboratory for stationary investigations of such a rare phenomena as underground "fires" of the coal-fields.
4. Hydrological monuments.
The Allo lake in the Zindon ravine of the Panjikent region was formed recently. It is surrounded by the r-shaped rocks almost vertically sinking into the water. This creates conditions for the emergence of the reiterated echo. "Allo" means "echo" in the Russian translation. One of the tourists' routes runs along these r-shaped rocks.
The Iskander-kul water-fall is in the Aini region. The river Iskander-kul flowing at a few hundred meters distance from the lake falls from the height of 30 m. The water-fall is very beautiful and is a tourist attraction.
The Marguzor lakes in the Zerafshan range were formed in the result of a large obstruction. They make up a whole cascade of nine, amazingly magnificent reservoirs. This is a rather short list of the natural monuments which can be used for the development of tourism in the Republic.
Archaeological findings of the Stone Age in the area of Southern Tajikistan indicate that first men appeared here 900-800 thousand years B.C. In Tajikistan as well as India, China, Indonesia lived the most ancient human communities working up stones in the ways common to the Pebble Culture, The Stone Age sites of all periods have been found in Tajikistan and this brings to the conclusion that Tajikistan is a part of the formation zone of Homo Sapiens, a human being of the modern physical type. In the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. The primitive society disintegrated in connection with the growing property inequality of individual tribes. The patriarchal slavery grew more developed, the role of military chiefs appointed to official positions increased. The latter needed the formation of the state. The Tajiks are the only most ancient and native population of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Eastern Iran (Khorasan). Archaeological excavations in the areas of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kirghizia prove that since late Stone Age and Bronze Age, and later the most ancient inhabitants of these regions were the Iranian peoples. They have created the first settled farming cultures in the regions mentioned above. The ancestors of the modern Tajiks - Bactrians, Khoragmians Soghdians, and Scythians were the founders of the first towns and settlements, and the state as well. The first state formations in Central Asia date back to the Bronze Age. Ancient Bactrian, Sogdian and Khoragmians states played an important part in the history of the East, they were the creators of the remarkable and distinctive cultures of the Eastern Iran which was reflected in the literary monument "Avesta". The author of "Avesta", prophet Zarathustra came from the Eastern Iran. In the more archaic times the area of inhabitance of Iranian tribes was much wider. In the reign of Achaemenids in the 6th-5th centuries B.C. "Avesta" was written in gold letters on 12 thousand oxen hides in three copies. They were kept in three chief temples of the country and were destroyed during the conquest of Iran by Alexander the Great. Zoroastrianism is the most ancient of the world revelation-based religion. Before Islam, in the 8th-9th centuries A.D. it was the religion of pre-Moslem Tajiks.
In the 6th - 4th centuries B.C. the Eastern Iran was a part of the Achaemenidan state. It was the largest state of the Iranian peoples, including the ancestors of modern Tajiks. The Achaemenidan state joined the developed slave-owing states of the ancien East - Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and others which facilitated the progress of slavery relations in the ancient Iranian community.
The authors of the antiquity called Bactria "a country of thousand towns" while Balkh was considered "the Mother of towns". Archaeological excavations of the ruins of Balkh, Merv, Samarkand, and the temple of Oxus gives evidence that at the time of the formation and development of slave-owning system, the level of material and spiritual culture in the antique centres of the Eastern Iran was very high. Some of the jewellery items from the Amu-Darya hoard are indicative of it. The unification of separate Iranian tribes into a state within more than 200 years was of great significance for the consolidation of Iranians. But this process was interrupted for a long time by the Greco-Macedonia invasion.
It was in Sogdiana and Bactria where the troops of Alexander the Great experienced strongest resistance and suffered greatest losses. He had to change his aggressive policy, because he realized that it was impossible to subdue the Sogdians, Bactrians and other Iranian tribes of the Eastern Iran by force. So he decided to become related to them and arranged a great wedding. He himself married fair Roxana (Rukhsona), the daughter of the Bactrian King Oxiart, Seleuc married the daughter of the Sogdian king Spitamen, and other commanders married the daughters of notable men of Sogdiana and Bactria, To attract the sympathy of Iranian nobles Alexander made a number of important arrangements: he introduced some of the Iranian court customs and native clothes in his own residence, established closer terms with the representatives of Eastern Nobility, enlisted them in his army, etc. Still after Alexander's death his empire has disintegrated into several parts and on the territory of Sogdiana, Bactria, Arya and Marghiana an independent Greco-Bactrian kingdom arose (3rd-2nd century B.C.).
Written and archaeological sources clearly show that in this period old towns and villages continued to developed and new towns such as Dunshanbe, were created. It was in this period that the foundation of great breakthrough in art and material culture peculiar to the coming of the Kushana period were laid down.
In the 2nd century B.C. the Greco-Bactrian state was conquered by the Iranian tribes of Tokharians who came from the southern regions of the Urals and Eastern parts of Central Asia. The tokharian tribes led by the Kushanas have established a world empire. The empire existed for five centuries and played an enormous part in the world history.
In the 4th century A.D. the Kushana empire was conquered by other Iranian peoples, Ephtalites. The state of Ephtalites covered the whole territory (ethnic) of the formation of the Tajik people. Sogdiana, Khorazmian, Ferghana and Chach did not belong to the Kushanas but the Ephthalites defeated these areas along with Bactria and Northern India.
An Arabian historian and geographer al-Mukaddasi called the territories of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Khotan a country of the House of Haitals and Ephtalites. This name remained until the formation of the Tajik state of Samanids. The analysis of archaeological and written materials shows that the period between the 4th-7th century A.D. was the time of the consolidation of the Tajik ethnos. Common territory, culture, religion and language were formed. In the 5th century A.D. the first poem in the Tajik language of Dari appeared. The term-ethno-num "Tajik" first appeared in the 5th - 6th century A.D. The Arabian conquest hastened the process of the Tajik literary language formation. The spread of the Islamic teaching in Central Asia was taking place through the Tajik language, not Arabic. The first prayer (namaz) was uttered in Bukhara in the Tajik language in 705.
As a result of the Arab conquest, the Iranians-Tajiks, have lost their national religion (Zoroastrianism) and independence. This hurt their ethnic Aryan pride and consolidated and levelled off localism in their culture, dialects of Eastern-Iranian languages and contributed to the final formation of the modern Persian language - Dari. The establishment of the Tajik state of
Samanids in the 11th century completed the shaping of the Tajik ethnos. The area of the formation of the Tajik people included modern Iranian Khorasan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Southern regions of Kazakhstan. Eastern regions of Kazakhstan and the Chinese Khotan were conquered by the Turks and the Native Iranian population of these regions have gradually been Turkized.
In the 11th - 12th century the Turks, in the 13th century the Mongol, and in the 16th century the Uzbek tribes conquered Central Asia, When in the second half of the 19th century it was defeated by the Russians there existed three Khanates constantly fighting against each other. For this reason the Russian conquest has a progressive meaning as it reduced the number of intestine wars which brought great sufferings to the peaceful population. The coming of the Russians into Central Asia, World War 1, the appearance of revolutionary-minded people among the local population have created favourable conditions for revolutionary transformations.
In 1924 the Autonomous Tajik Republic incorporated in Uzbekistan was set up on the territory of Southern Tajikistan. In 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was established.
After the disintegration of the USSR ( September 9, 1991) Tajikistan has been declared an independent secular democratic state.
The population of Tajikistan is over 5.3million people. However, due to special natural, climatic, and socio-economic conditions its distribution over the territory of the Republic is uneven. About 90% of the population inhabits 7% of the territory in the inter-montane plains, 10% of the people occupy the rest 93% of the area representing mountainous and Alpine regions. Inter-montane plains are relatively broad valleys with towns and settlement situated along the rivers. The majority of large industrial works, transport junctions, highly productive agricultural enterprises are located in the flat part of Tajikistan.
In the Hissar valley there are from 400 to 1000 inhabitants per sq. km. The same density is characteristic of the part of the Fergana basin populated by the Tajiks living in Khodjent, Kanibadam and Isfara. Rapid population growth and limited territory suitable for living resulted in the emergence of the Dushanbe-Hissar and Khodjent-Ghafurov agglomerations. One can clearly see them from board of plane when approaching Khodjent and Dushanbe. They represent rural and urban settlements connected by common infrastructural network.
The population density growth in the plain areas produces a lot of socio-economic and ecological problems. There is shortage of land for housing construction and new industrial and other projects. For theses reasons the number of people moving to mountain regions for permanent residence is increasing, therefore the rate of the population growth is also very high. The migration of the population from plains to mountains is occurring in those regions from which in the 30s - 40s the people were resettled into the lower reaches of rivers with the aim of developing new lands for cotton-growing. People are returning to the lands of their ancestors, restoring deserted villages. So, over 500 villages situated in the mountains were restored to life during the last 10 - 15 years.
The population of Tajikistan is growing rapidly. The annual growth rate is 3% - 4%. For the last 30 years it has increased 2.65 times. Here are some data for comparison: the population increase is 38.5%, in the Russian Federation it is 26.4%, in Byelorussia - 27.3%, High rates of the natural increase in population arise from high birth rates, low death-rate, improvement of health protection services in the Republic.
The number of children born per 1000 people in Tajikistan is 38.7, in Russia 15.9, in Latvia 14.3. Tajikistan is a multinational Republic. More than 50 ethnic groups live on its territory. Tajiks, the main nationality of the Republic constitute 62% of the total population, Uzbeks 20%, Russians 9.5%. There is a considerable number of Tartars, Kirghizs, Germans, Ukranians, Jews, Turkmen, Kazakhs and some other nationalities. In contrast to towns, which are multi-ethnic rural areas are basically inhabited by Tajiks, Uzbeks and Kirghizs.
Tajikistan was the least urbanized Republic of the Soviet Union. Over 67% of the population live in the countryside. In Russian 26% of inhabitants are villagers, in Armenia 32%, in Estonia 28%. The continued de-urbanization of the Republics is an important process requiring a thorough analysis. It is difficult to find such analogs in other countries. During last two decades, the proportion of the rural population of the Republic has increased from 62% to 67%. Perhaps, one of the significant reasons of this phenomenon is industrialization and urbanization of villages. Besides, the social capacity of towns is not sufficient and this prevents from a wide-scale migration of countrymen into the urban places.
The country population is growing more rapidly than the urban one. In towns the total coefficient of birth rate is constantly decreasing, but in the countryside it has begun to stabilize only since 1986 and started to reduce very slightly.
In the recent years there was a wide discussion of the problem of family planning, These debates mostly concerned countryside, because it is there that we find the highest birth rates, a large number of children in families, little intervals between child-births, which by no means are sufficient to fully restore maternal health. The discussions demonstrate that the majority of the rural population is not prepared enough to realize the idea of family planning. It is of interest to note that the share of those who favour the necessity of family planning is higher among women. Naturally, the very fact of starting discussions on the subject considered too delicate up until quite recently is positive in itself. It has already attracted the public's attention to qualitative aspects of the population reproduction.
The rural population is primarily occupied by plant-growing and cattle-breeding. Industry in rural areas is under-developed. More than 42% of the working people are engaged in farming. This is the highest index in the country. About 21% of the working people are employed in industry. This is the reason why the present policy is aimed at an accelerated development of industry and fold art crafts in the rural areas. The implementation of such policy will contribute not only the growth of the economic potential of Tajikistan, but result in qualitative changes of the social structure of the population, development of their individuality.
The purpose of industrialization is to solve problems dealing with the full and effective employment of the country-people. At present nearly 37% of the able-bodied population have no opportunities to work in the sphere of social economy. Transition to market economy and various forms of property without building industrial enterprises in the countryside may only worsen the situation.
The present tendency of giving priority to industrial development in the rural areas of Tajikistan will promote vocational education and reduce hard, manual, unqualified labour. It is undoubtedly resulting in higher cultural level of the people.
About 33% of the population of the Republic live in towns. This is much less than in the majority of the Republics of CIS.
The growth of the urban population is the result of both natural and external increase. Until the mid-70s among those arriving in the towns of Tajikistan for permanent residence the domineering place belonged to the people of not indigenous nationalities. Mostly, these were people of European nationalities. They had mainly industrial professions and came to work in the newly built industrial enterprises or large construction projects. Such a migration assumed a large-scale character in the period of construction important enterprises, constituting the South-Tajikistan Territorial-Industrial complex. The population growth in the new towns - Yavan, Nurek, Tursunzade, Roghun - where these enterprises were being built, was taking place owing to the migration from other Republics.
This process has stopped lately, but if formerly the migration balance was in favour of other Republics, nowadays it is of negative character, because the number of people leaving Tajikistan has outstripped those arriving from other Republics for permanent residence. These changes have had an effect on changes in the social composition of the urban population.
At present, external growth of the urban population is provided basically by migrants from within the Republic. The vast majority of people coming to towns for permanent residence are villagers. This change has furthered the dynamic growth in the proportion of the native nationalities in the total quantity of the population. The share of the Tajiks and Uzbeks hardly exceeded 32% 25 years ago. Now they constitute over 55% of the city-dwellers. And this tendency will apparently be of a long-term character. The growth of the representatives of indigenous nationalities has changed the spirit of towns, bringing in them oriental colouring due to the original architecture, popular traditions, classical and modern national art, etc.
An important progress has been reached in the Republic in the system of education. The programme of general literacy has been fulfilled. Secondary education has become compulsory. Over 32% of the population are involved in the educational process. About 1221.5 thousand children and teenagers study at schools under the guidance of nearly 90 thousand teachers. Secondary schools operate in all places, including remote mountainous regions. In the thinly populated regions there are boarding schools for senior pupils.
For the primary school pupils, whose parents are at work throughout the day, extended-day groups have been organized. There are 1073 schools of this type with over 116 thousand pupils. The system of labour training has been set up on the basis of inter-school training and industrial centres and school workshops, and industrial enterprises.
A developed system of pre-school childcare institutions exists in the Republic. They prepare children for school, help them to learn the world they live in. There are approximately 1000 such pre-school child care institutions where about 160 thousand children are educated. But the population's requirements in the further development of pre-school institutions are not fully satisfied yet. There are 13 higher and 43 secondary special educational establishments in Tajikistan.
Nearly 60 thousand students take courses in higher educational establishments of the Republic, 38.5 thousand of them are full-time students. In technical secondary schools and colleges almost 40 thousand people are enrolled. In recent years much attention is given to training specialists for machine-building, electrical engineering and chemical industries, building of hydro-technical constructions, power engineering, non-ferrous metallurgy, and mining industry.
In Tajikistan there is a large number of research establishment which seeks to find solutions to the current socio-economic progress and other important requirements of the Republic. The structure of this research establishments is divided into applied and fundamental branches. At present their number is 58, including 28 research institutes staffed by 6 thousand research workers.
The Tajikstan Academy of Sciences is over 40 years. Researches carried out by its institutes and departments are far-famed both in this country and abroad. The Institute of Seismology and Seismic Proof Construction is well-known for its investigations in forecasting earthquakes and foundation of projects of hydro-technical construction in highly seismic regions. Large deposits of non-ferrous metals, coal, precious and decorative stones have been discovered by the Institute of Geology. The Institute of Tajik Language and Literature has published the literary heritage of the great classics of the Tajik-Persian literature.
Achievements of agricultural science in Tajikistan are significant. The highest grade growths of fine-fibre cotton have won world recognition. Progressive methods and technology of irrigation, developing of the foothill fallow lands for planting gardens and vines have been developed in the Republic. The Tajikistan Academy of Sciences and Research and design branch institutions maintain close contact with research institutions of foreign countries.
Due to high birth rates the material foundation of maternity and childhood protection has considerably been strengthened. In the period stated, the number of antenatal clinics, children's polyclinics has grown 3.5 times. They enjoy priority in the distributions of financial resources and material funds, material and technical supply, construction and commissioning social projects. At the present time, all the regional centres, small towns, big villages have out-patients' clinics and maternity hospitals. There is an obstetrical dispensary in every village, including the most distant one. The "first aid" service is rendering its assistance to all the inhabitants of the Republic. They are provided with ambulances, surgical centres, ambulance planes.
Recently, the largest diagnostic centre in Central Asia supplied with the most advanced home-produced and foreign medical equipment was opened in Dushanbe. Over 1000 people a day can have a comprehensive check-up of their health state in this centre.
Tajikistan is the place for the health resort centres of Central Asia. Thousands of people both from Tajikistan and other Republics improve their health here annually. The "Khodja Obi-Garm" health resort is world famous for its radon springs and radon steam which can successfully cure motorial organs and female disorders. In the "Garmchashma" health centre patients who suffer from skin diseases undergo treatment here. Abundance of thermal, mineral and medicinal waters in the mountains of Tajikistan creates an opportunity to build a large sanitary complex on a commercial basis in future. But unfortunately today all these centers are not working in full capacity.
In spite of great changes in the life of the Tajik people, numerous social customs and ceremonies belonging to the traditional culture of the people have still been preserved. Specific ethno-genetic features of the Tajiks are displayed on the basis of these customs and ceremonies. To mention a few, for example, the wedding ceremony is one of the life episodes rich in the manifestation of such customs and ceremonies. The moslem wedding ceremony - nikah - is a tradition in itself, though it retains a religious character. One of the important moments of it is "sartaroshon" (haircutting of the bridegroom). This ceremony is accompanied by interesting entertainments, dances, songs, strewing the bridegroom with coins and sweets. In kulyab, for example, the songs are of comic colouring, besides, not only the bridegroom, but the barber as well become objects of joking and amusements. This ceremony has been preserved up to the present day. Another wedding feature is greeting the bride and bridegroom. The bride is in a new beautiful dress with numerous adornments, among which there are amulets protecting from evil forces and evil eye; similar measures are taken on the part of the bridegroom.
The process of childbirth and its upbringing was also accompanied by various, chiefly magic, customs and ceremonies. One of these is cutting off boys' foreskin. The custom is preceded by a small feast with treating, entertainments, such as "gushtingiri" (wrestling), "buzkashi" (goat-snatching), "poiga" (the races), etc. Though this ritual is considered as the one of converting to Islam, according to the views of scientists it can be traced back to ancient initiations.
In order to keep closer and stronger links with neighbours or non-related families, there was a custom to enter a sworn brotherhood (djuraghi) between children of one sex. According to this custom, those entering such a brotherhood would be equalled to a blood relation., and in some cases valued more than a brother or an uncle. This traditional custom of the Tajiks was one of the social and family phenomena rooted in the remote past. It strengthened friendship not only among members of the family, but drew together peoples of different ethnic groups living in the neighbourhood.
Studying the Tajiks dressing is of greatest ethnographic interest. Despite a variety of local features, their clothes have one common basis. They have retained plenty of archaic elements typical of the pre-class formations. Some of them have still preserved certain peculiarities, others have completely changed. According to O.A. Sukhareva, most clothing elements are indicative of the sex and age of the person wearing it. For example, wearing a veil by a woman can be explained by certain periods in her life connected with bearing a child. Covering a woman's head with a veil takes roots from a wide-spread custom to cover married (ie. capable of delivering a child) woman's hair in order to prevent from the danger of bringing her harm (in a magic way) by means of hair. Thus, through old archaic elements of dress one can trace magic and animistic outlook.
A.K. Pisarchik notes that inexhaustible creative genius of the people, its subtle and exact observations of nature skilfully used in everyday life and work is manifest in most of traditions. They have been preserved in various forms of the national art - music, singing, dancing, folk theatrical performances.
Architectural monuments are embedded as precious pearls into the setting of the picturesque landscapes of Tajikistan. Architecture of the Tajiks - the most ancient settled people of Central Asia who have erected foundations of the rich classical heritage developed for almost 5,000 years. Thanks to the laborious task of archaeologists, the swelled up banks of ancient towns hardly discernible from a bird's - eye view allowed us to read pages of history seemingly reduced to dust
High level of the building art is displayed by the Sarasm (near Pendjikent) settlement dating back to the IV - II millennium B.C. Archaeological excavations of the cult and public buildings stood out against the densely built-up new housing estates consisting of 2 - 3 room flats.
The most prominent antique monument is the temple of fire Takhti Sanghin (Kabadian) erected in the 4th century B.C. when the Central Asian area was occupied by the Eastern Iranian tribes: Sogdians, Bactrians, Parthians and Sakas. The eight-column spacious shed of the square hall of the Temple of Oxus (i.e. Amu-Darya) with four stone columns fronted the courtyard. On one of the altars decorated by the sculpture of Marcia, a Bactrian named Atrosok ("burning with sacred fire") left an inscription in Greek "Bound on a vow, Atrosok dedicated to Oxus". The sculptures of Apollo discovered here, highly artistic samples of ivory carvings, architectural details are performed in the Oriental Hellenistic traditions: organic combination of Greek and local Eastern-Iranian elements. According to the opinions of the researchers, the richest hidden treasure of gold articles (more than 180 items) kept in the British Museum (the treasures of Oxus) has been taken out of this very temple last century.
The epoch of the early Middle Ages (V - VIII A.D.) - the period of intestine wars, chivalrous ornaments, glorified in Firdousi's "Shah-Nameh" is best represented in the old relics of Tajiks' ancestors - Sogdians ancient Pendjikent, Sharistan and Kafirkala (Kolkhozabad). Ancient Pendjikent, figuratively called "Central Asian Pompeii", with a ruler's magnificent palace on the rostrum, two majestic temples decorated with frescos based on a variety of plots, main halls of the city-dwellers, strikingly plastic wooden and clay sculptures acquaint us with the talented Sogdians, who have had a great impact on many peopled of the East.
The South of the Republic formerly inhabited by the Tokharians had experienced a strong influence of Buddhism and there archaeologists have found a temple-cloister complex Adjina - Teppa (VII - VIII A.D.) where in one of the narrow passages lay a unique 12 metre high clay sculpture of Buddha in Nirwana.
The 8th century is an important landmark in the cultural history of Central Asia - the period of the Arab conquest which has brought a new ideology of Islam and hence new types of structures: mosques with minarets, madrasah, caravan-serais and new ornamental art which has replaced the fine arts.
In the 9th century the process of the formation of the Tajik people was completed and the Eastern Iranian peoples under the aegis of the powerful state of Samanids passed on to the Tajik language. The state independence from the Arab Caliphate and people's consolidation give a powerful incentive to the progress of science and art, which have consistently developed up to the beginning of the 13th century being interrupted by the devastative Mongol conquest.
The most significant architectural monument of those preserved on the territory relating to this period is the mausoleum of Khodja Mashhad Saed (the Shaartuz region) dating back to the 9th - 11th century. Its two grand cupolas connected with a refined arch were built wholly of baked brick. Originally, in the 9th century there was an oriental mausoleum built. In the 11th century it was connected with an arch and a large courtyard with premises was built along its perimeter. At the present time it is the most ancient working madrasah in Central Asia, where probably Nasir Khusraw a famous poet and traveller studied.
A small mausoleum Khodja Durbod and two mausoleums Khodja Nakhshron of the 11th-12th centuries (near the town Tursun-zoeh) situated nearby are no inferior to the artistic perfection of Khodja Mashhad. The Khodja Nakshron mausoleum is noteworthy for the striking virtuosity of brickwork in combination with the calligraphic inscriptions.
Quite a new aspect of the 11th - 12th century architecture is opened by the Hazrati Bobo mausoleum discovered in 1964 in the Chorkuh village (not far from Isfara) - a unique and, possibly, the only preserved wooden mausoleum in Central Asia. Odd-shaped columns, figured consoles reminding of fantastic birds, images of snakes webbed into the ornament go back to the pre-Islamic art traditions.
There is much resemblance with the Chorkuh fretwork in the decorations of the 10th-12th century columns in the Upper Zerafshan, famous wooden mihrab from Iskodar and clay mihrab in Asht. One of the mostly well-preserved palaces of the 9th-11th century in Central Asia (in the territoty of Tajikistan) was discovered and excavated. This palace was located in Khulbk (at present, Kurban-shahid), the capital of the Southern Tajik province of Khuttal. On a high rostrum, faced with baked brick were disposed main halls decorated with the ganch and wooden fretwork and murals, and spacious courtyards with reservoirs. A complicated network of water supply, heating and sewerage based on the system of underground manifolds and ceramic pipes is surprising for contemporary people.
The first splendid monument erected in Tajikistan after a century of devastation resulting from the Mongol invasion is the mausoleum of Muhammad Bashoro in the Mazori Sharif village near Pendjikent. In the 14th century a magnificent portal decorated with terracotta carvings was attached to the pre-Mongolian building.
Another important monument of the Tajik architecture, the Sheikh Muslihitdin mausoleum in Khodjent, was rebuilt in the 14th century. In the 16th century it was rebuilt all over again and now it consists of a large mosque with three portals and a small burial-vault (gurkhona) with a dome raised high on a drum over it.
In the 15th century a mausoleum was built over the grave of Amir Ali Hamadoni, a famous scientist and theologian esteemed in India, Pakistan and Iran. It has a double cupola, the outward cupola cover being supported by a framework made of the original ganch mouldings. Later, this complex was built over with the dome and arched premises.
The mosque of sultan Abdullatif in Ura-Tyubeh dates from the 16th century cathedral mosques and late interpretations of the "Timurid style". It is notable for a grand portal with multi-coloured ceramic facing and blue dome raised high on an ornamented drum and standing out against ordinary buildings of the town.
The epoch of late feudalism (17th - the beginning of the 19th century) in Tajikistan has left not only separate constructions (the madrasah of Mirradjab Dodkho and Oyim in Kanibadam, the mausoleum of Domullo Ikrom in Langar, the mosque-madrasah of Olim Dodlho in Pendjikent, etc.), but entire architectural ensembles. The most popular among them is the ensemble at the foot of the Hissar fortress, consisting of stronghold gates, two madrasahs Kuhna and Nav (17th -18th century), caravan-serai, the stone dome mosque Sanghin with a round gallery of the multi-dome mausoleum of Mahdumi-Azam preserved since the 15th-16th centuries, the period of intensive settling in Hissar, and the recently excavated madrasah of Chashmayi Mohiyon.
Numerous monuments of the architecture of the Tajiks (18th - the beginning of the 20th century) give and idea of its national roots. The structure of the most of the quarter mosques lacks strict canons binding the initiative of masters.
Houses which are adapted to the peculiarities of life, relief, traditions played an important role in the national Tajik architecture. In the plain parts of Northern Tajikistan dwelling houses and household constructions group are found around a yard planted with greenery. In the mountains of Zerafshan and the Yaghnab valley, the densely built, stepped villages consist of a joined-by-a-single-roof complex with a heath. In an Alpine Gorno-Badakhshan house (Western Pamirs), a large room (up to 100 m sq.) having a stepped beam ceiling with a smoke hole in it was surrounded by the household buildings.
Tajikistan is characterised by a diversified structure of industry. The latter includes over 120 branches. The part of industry in the gross national product constitutes 52.5% which is higher in comparison with other branches of the production sphere. The Republic develops industries using mainly agricultural raw products - food, meat and milk, flour-grinding and cereals, cotton, silk-weaving, knitted wear, cotton ginning. Rich deposits of ore have created favourable conditions for the advancement of ore mining and processing enterprises, non-ferrous metallurgy, glass and faience industry, chemical production, and manufacture of building materials. Immense hydro-power resources have become the foundation for the speedy development of power engineering. Enterprises of agricultural, textile and trade machinery construction, electrical engineering and instrument - making industries have been built in the Republic.
For the last 20 years the industrial dynamics and structure have been experiencing an important influence of the South - Tajik Territorial - Production Complex. It consists mainly of the largest heavy industry works - aluminium, electrochemical, nitrogen-mineral fertilizers, and electric power engineering, which have been developing more rapidly than all the other remaining industries. In the 1980's, putting into operation of the South - Tajik Complex projects resulted in increasing the share of producing means of production in the overall output from 68.8% to 70.8%.
Despite the achieved progress in the development of industry, there were considerable drawbacks. They stem from the scientifically unbounded strategy of development being practised during the last 30 years. This strategy did not correspond to the real needs of the Republic and its people, depending on the demographic situation. High natural growth rates of the population require outstripping the rates of producing means of consumption, especially of the top priority goods.
At present the strategy of the Republic's industrial development is being revised. It is envisaged to develop primarily final product industries and there are good starting conditions for this in Tajikistan. Thus, only 11% out of the total cotton fibre produced in the Republic are processed here. It is planned to raise this level up to 30%. It means that new spinning and weaving industries, sewing and knitted-goods factories will be operating in the near future, the network of home-working and needle-work productions will be expanded. The problem of eliminating harvesting losses is being solved now, as about 40% of vegetables and fruits are lost on the way from field to shop. Setting up of numerous processing productions on the spot will allow to greatly reduce such losses.
The industry of Tajikistan is becoming more complex, i.e. it is being organized in the form of individual industrial complexes. At the present time there exist fuel and energy, mechanical engineering, chemical and forest, and textile industries. Almost all of them were of the All-Union importance., i.e. they meet not only the Republican, but the All-Union requirements as well. They include mainly large enterprises and tend to considerably expand.
Machine-building industry is developing rather well. Textile looms, agricultural implements, hydrologic equipment, refrigerators produced in Tajikistan are much in demand. In future, the output of transformers, refrigerators and stoves will be increased substantially, the production of aircraft engines and planes for small-scale aviation will be put into operation. There are good prospects for producing radio-electronic equipment and computer systems.
Folk art industries have been developing quite successfully in the recent years. The output of the "armugon", "Khudjand-atlas" factories, ceramic articles of Kara-Tag have received a high mark at the international exhibitions of amateur and folk arts. National jewellery of the Dushanbe jewellery plant is in popular demand.
Tajikistan is the land of ancient traditional farming with favourable natural and climatic conditions. Its people have for centuries been leading a settled life passing their industry from generation to generation. Since ancient times the Tajik land was famed for its gardens and vineyards, bee-keeping and water-melon, melon and gourd cultivation. Up to the present day many sorts of fine-fibre cotton and silk cocoons, grapes and fruits, musk melons and berries are unsurpassed in their standard quality. It is the evidence of a unique experience of the native population in growing a large number of farming products, thus beneficial conditions being created for them in the market.
A leading place in the agricultural structure of Tajikistan belongs to cotton-growing. In the southern regions of the Republic are cultivated mainly valuable fine-fibre growths. Cotton-fibre and its products are in great demand in the home and world markets. The development of cotton-growing has created a firm basis for the provision of the Republic with vegetable oil and concentrated forage for animals.
In the period of transition to economic sovereignty much attention will be paid to the progress of the cotton agricultural complex. Processing of cotton-fibre in the Republic itself with subsequent production of finished articles will be radically increased.
An important part in the long-term development of agriculture in Tajikistan is assigned to horticulture and vine-growing. Recently, the development of the aforementioned branches has gained a powerful impetus owing to the large-scale arrangements connected with the utilization of rich bioclimatic potential of the region. It is suffice to note that from 1970 to 1993 the gross production of fruits in the Republic rose from 145.4 to 250 thousand tons, that of grapes has grown from 95.2 to 200.5 thousand tons. The productivity of gardens and vineyards has substantially increased.
Structural changes taking place in the agriculture of the Republic will help to transform horticulture and vine-growing into the second in its production potential branch after cotton-growing. It will become possible due to the opening up new large areas in foothills and mountain regions for the gardening and vine-culture purposes. Shortly, a few dozens of specialized state farms were set up in the foothills of the Hissar and Yavan valleys and Khatlou province which are engaged in fruit and vine-growing. Now they are processing and selling these "sunny gifts" both within the Republic and outside its boundaries. The majority of such farms gather in rich harvests in the dry-farming land conditions. In the state farm, situated on the Fakhrabad Pass, over 100 cwt of grapes and 120 cwt of apples per hectare are reaped yearly. Further developing of new lands for gardens and vineyards will be facilitated by the mass scale establishment of private farms. Potential areas of foothills suitable for gardening and vine-growing constitute nearly 700 thousand hectares, in the mountain regions they will make up about 1 million hectares in due course.
There are all conditions for the development of vegetable and potato-growing in the Republic. A system of enterprises regularly supplying the city-dwellers with fresh vegetables was set up around large towns. Dozens of specialized potato-growing farms are established in the mountain regions. For the last 20 years production of vegetables has grown from 206 to 570 thousand tons, potatoes from 67 to 195 thousand tons, melons and water-melons from 52.7 to 175 thousand tons. Further production growth of vegetables and water-melons, melons and gourds is possible by cutting the cotton areas and to even greater degree at the expense of increasing their crop capacity. There are great prospects for enlarging potato production due to the developing of new areas in the mountain and Alpine regions. Bioclimatic and soil conditions of the mountain regions of Tajikistan are optimum for growing potatoes with the best flavouring qualities. By the potato productivity Tajikistan takes one of the first places in Central Asia. In a number of mountain regions it is 300 cwt per hectare as a rule.
Cultivation of tobacco and herbs in the mountain regions and foothills is gradually developing too. The tobacco grown in Tajikistan is of high quality and there is a great demand for it outside the Republic. In the near future, it is planned to set up a number of enterprises specializing in the production of drugs from herbs with due regard for the oriental medicine receipts.
Separate regions of Tajikistan differ significantly due to their geographical position, peculiarities of natural-climatic conditions, relief, water and mineral resources, the level of productive forces development, travelling facilities and economic relations. Therefore, the territory of the Republic is divided into the following parts: Northern Tajikistan including the Fergana valley (its western part), northern slopes of the Turkestan and the southern slopes of the Quramin ranges. The Kuhistan including Central Tajikistan with beautiful Zerafshan and Surkhob (Karategin) valleys; Southern Tajikistan which occupies a vast depression with the Hissar, Vakhsh and Kulyab valleys; the Pamirs which by territory coincides with the Badakhshan autonomous Region and is divided into the Western and Eastern Pamirs. These regions are not separated from each other, on the contrary they have close natural and economic relations.
Its territory is located to the north of the Turkestan range. The relief is characterized by significant diversities and contrasts. Most of the territory is occupied by Piedmont plains. Along with them a number of mountain ranges are stretched in latitudinal and sublatitudinal directions, mainly in the outlying parts of the region. The Kramin range and the Mogoltau mountainous massif induced into the western Tien-Shan are located in its northern part.
The most part of the territory is occupied by the West-Fergana valley, the Syr-Darya valley divides it into two parts right-side and left-side ones. The left-side part serves as a natural pass from the turan plains to the Fergana valley. In the ancient times a busy caravan path was lying across this area to Iran, Greece, Turkey and India.
The climatic conditions in the right-side and left-side parts of the Fergana region are quite similar. They are characterized, first of all, by the existence of real winters at all altitudes including the bottom of the valley. They last for 35-45 days. The winters are mild but frosty. The average temperature In January is negative, from -0.5 to -2.5 C. The minimum temperatures fall from -15 to -20 C. The absolute minium may fall down to -26 or - 30 C. The cold period on the bottom of the valley lasts for 95-100 days. It is characterized by unstable weather. The precipitates fall as rain or snow. The summer is hot, with the average temperature in July +26 C. The absolute maximum reaches +42 +46 C.
The period of active vegetation makes up 200-220 days, gradually shortening with the height to 25 days above 3,000 m. During this period the active temperatures at the bottom are accumulated to 4600-4800 C. At the altitudes of 1,500 m. they decrease to 3400-3500 C, while above 3,000 m they constitute 5000-6000 .
The precipitates aren't much. The most dry are the bottom and the eastern parts of the regions, only 100-200 mm of precipitates fall there. On the western slopes of the Kuramin range and on the northern slopes of the Turkestan range the precipitates quantity increases to 300-450 mm. By annual distribution the most of precipitates in the right-side region and in the valleys falls in cold season.
The Northern Tajikistan is rich in mineral resources. Quite long ago in Karamazar the ores of many metals had been mined and silver gold, copper, lead, mercury, iron were extracted. The ore mining reached especially high development in the times of the Samanids ruling (9th - 12th century). In the Soviet period, many deposits of polymetallic ores (Kansai, Kurunsai, Altyn-Topkan, Takeli), from ore (Chokadambulak), tungsten ore (Choruh-Dayron), rare and noble metals have been discovered. The earth of Northern Tajikistan is rich in combustible minerals, coal, common salt, gemstones, mineral waters, building materials.
The length of the main water-way, the Syr-Darya, when running over Tajikistan is 197 km, its width being 150-1601 m. In this region there are the Kayrakkum, Farhad and Kattasai reservoirs, The large Fergana and the Northern Fergana canals have been erected. Since 1956 the Kayrakkum power station has been functioning on the Syr-Darya.
Then animal and the plant world in Northern Tajikistan is much diverse. In the highest part of the Mogoltau range the thin, shortish fir-trees (archa) can be found. The vegetation on the Kuramin range is more diverse. In its mountains one can see a wild goat, a wolf, a jackal, a fox, such birds of prey as a griffon, a hawk, a kite. On the mountain slopes there are many partridges.
The population and labour resources are growing owing to the high birth rate. In the recent years the urban population has increased by 26%. Northern Tajikistan is densely populated. In the oases, there live in average 150-200 people per 1 sq. km. With a comparatively small territory available (13 thousand sq. km.), by the amount of inhabitants (almost 1.4 million) it is second to Southern Tajikistan. The population is mostly occupied with agriculture.
Large progress in the development of industrial production branches has been done. A significant contribution was made by the Kayrakkum HEPS on the Syr-Darya named "The Peoples' Friendship" hydrostation. Since 1956 when it was built, its power energy feeds not only Northern Tajikistan but some industrial cities of Uzbekistan too. The station capacity is 116 thousand kilowatt. it can product 700 million killowatt per hour annually.
The preference was given to the development of light and food industries. This is a characteristic feature of modern industrial branch structure in Northern Tajikistan. Besides, such branches of industry as machine-building, metal-working, mining and building materials industries have been developed. On the basis of the prospected mineral resources, the Adrasman concentrating mill and the Asht salt-works are functioning. Industrial enterprises are distributed according to the mineral resources. The mineral resources excavation and processing, for example, take place in the Karamazar mining district Kansai, Takeli, Adrasman and in the eastern part of Northern Tajikistan (norther Kanjibadam, Shurab). The light industry enterprises (silk-mill and carpet mill) and food enterprises (a cotton ginning plant, oil-mills, tinned-fruit factories are disposed in Pendjikent, Isfara, Kanibadam, Proletarsk, etc.
The agriculture is specialized in cotton-growing, cattle-breeding, horticultures, vine-growing and silk-worm breeding. The cotton-growing and gardening are closely connected with irrigation. The lands are watered by rivers and canals, and in such places of Northern Tajikistan, apricot, peach, apple and pear trees are grown. The leading branch of farming is vine-growing. The raisin and wine sorts are grown in the vineyards. The largest irrigated massifs are "Big Asht", Barren steppe (Golodnaya steppe), Yulduz-Kok, Makhram, etc. The further development of agriculture in Northern Tajikistan, along with the development of modern irrigation, requires higher melioration methods, reconstruction of the existing irrigation systems and increase of water supply.
The largest industrial and cultural centre of Northern Tajikistan is Khodjent. Its history goes back to the ancient times. In 1986 the 2500th anniversary of Khodjent's foundation was celebrated. Being in the centre of big trade ways, Khodjent, throughout its history, had remained one of the largest economic and political centres of Central Asia. In the epoch of the Samanids ruling (9th - 11th century), silver, copper and lead were intensively worked out in the Karamazar mines. The history of the town was connected with the names of such distinguished poets as Kamoli
Khudjandi, Mahasti, the famous composer and singer Sadirkhan.
The Botantical gardens is famous all over Central Asia. Here in the open ground, more than 600 species of arboreous-shrubbery plants of Central Asia, Mediterranean, Eastern Asia, North America and other regions are grown. The Botantical gardens has scientific communications with 60 Botantical gardens of foreign countries.
Kuhistan in translation from the Tajik means "the highlands". It occupies an area of about 30 thousand sq. km. embordered by Northern Tajikistan, Southern Tajikistan and the Pamirs. Kuhistan, a mountainous territory, is stretched along the ranges from west to east for more than 450 km. It covers the Hissar-Alai mountain system including the valleys of the Zerafshan, Yagnob, Surknob rivers and the Obikhingow basin. The Central Tajikistan is considered to be one of the highest regions in Central Asia where an absolute mark of the lowest point is 900 m.
A special place is taken in Kuhistan by the Zerafshan and Karategin geographical regions.
Zeravshan is stretched in the mountain range directions from west to east for more than 200 km. By the administrative division, Zerafshan contains the Pendjikent, Aini and Mountainous Match districts. Here, in the latitudinal direction, the Turkestan (southern slope), Zerafshan and Hissar (northern slope) ranges are stretched. They are divided by the mountainous rivers Zerafshan and Yagnob. From east to west between the Turkestan and Zerafshan ranges, the Zerafshan valley is situated widening in the western part to 15-20 km.
Zerafshan is rich in mineral resources. Large deposits of high-quality coals are located here. The Fan-Yagnob deposit has a high heating value, more than 80% of its coals are refereed to the coke-coals. The Fan-Yagnob coal-field is notable for an interesting natural phenomenon-"burning coal-fields". In the vicinity of Kishlak Ravat in the reserve Kuhi-Malik, the coal fire has been blazing for 3.5 million years. Zerafshan is know for its deposits of tungsten, antimony, phosphorites and mercury.
The Zerafshan valley is refereed to the transitional zone from plains to highlands, characterized by lowering temperatures with the height. While in the west, at the altitudes of 1,00-1,200 m. the average annual temperature comprises 11-12 C, in the east it drops to 4-5 C.
The real winter in the lower broad part of the valley lasts for 35-45 days. Of them 35-40% are vegetation winters. The winter period increases with the height, so at 2,000 m, vegetation winters are not observed and the winter period lasts for 80 days.
The temperature of the coldest month, January, is negative all over the area and changes from -1 C in the west of the valley to -7 C or -8 C in the east.
The climatic conditions in the side valleys are more severe compared to the Zerafshan valley. The warm period in the west begins in the first decade of March and ends in the last decade of November. The length of the period is 250-260 days. The hottest month in the west of the valley is July; its average temperatures are 25-26 C. The vegetation period lasts for 200-215 days in the bottom but it shortens to 40-50 days above 3,000 m.
The distribution of precipitations over the territory is uneven. Well moistened are the slopes of the ranges open to humid winds. About 400-500 mm of precipitates per year fall out here. In the western part of Zerafshan valley the amount of precipitates comprises 300-350 mm, in the central part it decreased to 150-200 mm, but further to the east it grows again to 250-300 mm.
The peculiarities of climate influence the regime of river feeding and hydro geography of the district on the whole. Almost all the rivers have their origin in glaciers. The largest in this area is the Zerafshan glacier (41.0 sq. km) having several ice tributaries. The length of the Zerafshan river is over 870 km, however, only 315 km it runs over the territory of the Republic. To the south of it the Yagnob river flows from east to west.
The valley in the middle part of the river is inhabited by the Yagnobians who have kept the little studied spoken language of the ancient Soghdians to our days. Amidst the Zerafshan lakes the most interesting are the Marguzon lakes and the Iskanderkul. The Marguzor lakes are believed to be picturesque corner of the valley. They are nine beauties, nine small lakes situated along the Shing river. The Iskanderkul lake is located at 2255 m; many fold stories are connected with it.
The vegetation grown according to the altitude belts, taking into account the orientation of the mountain slopes and the distribution of precipitates. In the upper part of the Yagnob and the Fan-Darya rivers and around the Iskanderkul, rich mountainous meadows are scattered.
The animal kingdom is much diverse. A snow leopard, lynx, wild mountain goat and marmot can be found here as well as such birds as a bearded vulture and golden eagle
The population lives mainly in the river valleys. Many settlements and economic centres are placed in the Pendjikent valley. The Zerafshan region is mostly specialized in agriculture and mining industry. Recently, the irrigation work in the Zerafshan valley has promoted the development of rice-growing, gardening and tobacco-growing. The apricot plantations are numerous with their famous grades: falgari, mirsanjali, mohtobi, kandat, etc. Widely distributed are the plantations of apple trees, mulberry, cherry and sweet cherry trees in the valleys of Mountainous Matcha. The cultivation of lands gives a perspective for potato-growing and gardening. The population is occupied with cattle-breeding - sheep and goats are grazed in highland pastures.
Panjkent is the largest city in Zerafshan valley. It belongs to the most ancient towns in the world. Since 1946 archaeological expeditions are engaged in the excavation of the site of ancient settlements in one of the centres of the Soghdiana state.
To the east of the Hissar range the Surkhob valley, or Karategin is stretched for more than 150 km. The valley is enclosed by the Karategin, Zerafshan and Alsai ranges in the north and by Peter the Great range in the south.
The Surkhob valley at the altitude of 1,200-2,100 m has a comparatively complicated relief. It and (located to the south of it) the Obikhingow valley 1,200-3,200 m are located in a seismic region. In 1949 a catastrophic earthquake, known as the Hait earthquake, took place in that area. To the south of the Surkhob valley, between the ranges of Peter 1 and parvaz at the altitude of 1,200-3,200 m, in a seismic region is situated the Obikhingow valley.
The most important of mineral resources are the Nazarailok and Miyenadu coal deposits. Besides them, nepheline sienites, gold, molibdenum, asbestos, mica, encrustation stones and building materials have been prospected. Widely known are the hot springs of Obigarm and Tamdykul, their water temperature is 40-60 C.
The climate formation is influenced by the relief. The climate is rather mild with moderately hot summer. The average annual temperature in Garm is +11 C., in July it is +24 C. The average temperature in Garm is -5 or -7 C., though there are the days when the mercury column drops to -30 C.
The river system in Karategin is rather dense. The Surkhob river in its lower flow confluences with a large tributary Obikhingow giving the rise of the Vakhsh river. These rivers keep a large potential resource of hydro-power but they are not used in full so far.
The ephemeral vegetation dominates in the area. On the moistened slopes, the forest grow mostly consisting of nu-trees, maples, archas, etc. The animal world is represented by snow leopards, wild mountain goats, wolves, foxes, bears and wild boards; of birds are known thrushed, crows, stone partridges, ulars, golden eagles, hawks and griffons.
The growing population is engaged in agriculture and cattle-breeding. Natural and climatic conditions, and availability of labour force promoted the development of potato growing, gardening, and cultivating cereals on dry-farming lands.
In the middle part of the valley, on the right bank of the Surkhob, a township Garm is situated, which formerly was the residence of a bey, the ruler of Karategin. The light and food industries are developed as well as the industry of building materials. There are some architectural memorials, the most interesting among them is Fathabad mausoleum (15th -19th century) and Djome mosque (18th century.).
Southern Tajikistan is located between the Hissar range in the north, the Khazratishoh in the east, and the Babatag in the west; in the south it is limited by the Pyanji and Amu-Darya rivers. Its area is 38 thousand sq. km.
The relief of Southern Tajikistan, unlike that in the highlands, is represented by low ranges and vast hollows. The ranges are stretched mainly in southern and west-southern directions. Between the mountain ranges the valleys and depressions are disposed, the most notable of them are: the Hissar, Vakhsh, Lower-Kafirnigan, Parkhar, Yavan, Kulyab, Dangara and Muminabad valleys. They are located at 300-1,200 m altitudes. In these valleys the most developed industrial regions of Tajikistan are situated. At the foothills and on the dry farming lands (adyrs), vine-growing and gardening are widely spread.
Southern Tajikistan is rich in mineral resources, the most important of which are the oil-fields (Akbash-Adyr, Kichil-Bel deposits), gas (Kzyl-Tumshuk) and gas-oil deposits (Beshtentyak and Sulduzi).
Among the non-metallic minerals are rock-salt deposits are of special importance (Khodja-Mumin, Khodja-Sartis, Tutbulak, Nurek, etc.). Limestones and dolomites of Southern Tajikistan can be utilized in the production of calcinated and caustic soda. calcium carbide and metallic magnesium.
The climate of the region is characterized by a long dry summer and not very damp and cold winter periods compared to the other regions in Tajikistan. The average July temperature in the plains is 27-31 C., the absolute maximum is 48 C. In winter frosts are possible.
There are more precipitates in the south of Tajikistan than in the north as the valleys are open to the west winds bringing humid air from the Atlantics. The amount of precipitates on the foothills of the Hissar valley promote vine-growing and gardening without irrigation. The dense river system of Southern Tajikistan involves the Panj, Amu-Darya, Vakhsh, Kafirnigan, Kysylsu rivers with their tributaries. The regime of the rivers is dependent on their feeding. In the upper flow (3,00-4,000) they get predominantly glacier-snow feeding. The rivers and big canals-Vakhsh, Big Hissar, Chubek and Shurab - are important for irrigation purposes and as a source of power supply.
The flora of Southern Tajikistan is diverse, with specific natural belts. The lower valleys are of dry subtropical type: only brushwoods are growing on the river banks. Higher lies the belt of ephemenal low grasses with zerophytic shrubs: Bokharan almond-trees, dog-roses, pistachio-trees, a lot of hawthorn. In the arboreal-shrub belt, especially on the slopes of the Hissar range, the deciduous species of trees are growing. Apart from the nut-trees, plane-trees and maples, the arch (conifer) bushes grow in the upper part of the belt. The next is the belt of short-grass meadows, steppes and prickly herbs.
The flora of Southern Tajikistan is very rich and varied. The flood-lands and tugai thickets are inhabited by Bokharan deer, jungle cat, jackal; in adys one can see the fox and the wolf. Reptiles are basically represented by serpents (cobra, gurza, etc.). One of the most exotic desert inhabitants of the region is grey monitor lizard or, as it is often called, land crocodile. Its length is 1.5 m. The most valuable of birds are the Tajik pheasant, white heron; in the mountains these are partridges and ulars. In the mountainous regions of Southern Tajikistan one can find winding-horn goat (morkhur, muflon, snow leopard; birds of prey are represented by hawks and golden eagles. Many species of rare animals and plants are preserved in the Tigrovaya Balka, Ramit and Dashti-Djum nature reserves.
Southern Tajikistan is a densely populated region. The urban population is rapidly increasing. Compared to 1960, it is twice as large. The climatic conditions are favourable for the development of agriculture which is specialized in cotton-growing, vegetable and vine-growing; cattle-breeding is developed for meat and milk production. In the recent years the citrus plantations have become an important item in the farming economy. Special attention is given to geranium-growing. It is cultivated on the irrigated soils of the Tursun-zade and Qumsangir regions.
The capital of the Republic, Dushanbe, is situated in a picturesque, fertile part of the Hissar valley, at the altitude of 750-930 m above sea-level. According to archaeological excavations, Dushanbe is over 2,000 years old. Many archaeological memorials have been found on its territory. Not far from "The Barakat" market the remnants of the Greek-Baktrian time (2nd century B.C.) have been discovered.
The Pamirs is a wonderful peculiar district occupying the eastern part of Tajikistan. This is a powerful mountainous country with the largest Alpine glaciers. The highest settlements in Central Asia are situated in the Pamirs. By administrative division, it is a part of the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous Region, almost 50% of its territory is occupied by the Pamirs.
The mountainous country Pamirs is situated almost in the centre of Eurasia where the grandiose mountain systems are conjugated: Tien-Shan, Quen-Lun, Hindu-Kush and Karakorum. This Alpine province is substantially removed from seas and oceans and this has its effect on the natural conditions and climatic formation. The specifics of the Pamirs relief allow to divide it into western and eastern parts. Their border runs from the Lenin peak to the Sarez lake and further to the south across the Yashiekul lake, to the inter-flow of the Pamir and the Vakhandarya rivers.
The Western Pamirs is a region of deeply-cut highlands for which the interchange of high ranges and narrow deep valleys is characteristic. The centre of the Pamir mountainous system is a meridionally stretched range of the Academy of Sciences. It is the highest uplift not only in Tajikistan, but the Soviet Union on the whole, with the peak of Communism (7,495 m) and several peaks over 6,000 meters.
To the west of the Academy of Sciences range, in almost latitudinal direction, the Darvaz, Vanch, Yazgulem, Rushan, Shugnan and Shahdara ranges are stretched. In the south-west of the Pamirs the submeridianal Ishkashim range is situated. The foothills of the ranges lie at 1,700-1,800 m. their peaks raise up to 6,000 m above seal-level.
The valleys of the Vanch, Yazgulem, Bartang, Shahdara and other rivers cutting through these ranges are distinguished by erosion features and represent narrow deep gorges. The Easter Pamirs represent the highest mountainous desert. Notwithstanding the high altitude (to 5,000-5,00 m above sea-level) it is characterized by the slight cutting up of the relief and smooth outlines. Wide and flat plains with the traces of ancient glaciation lie at the altitude of 3,800-4,000 m. Over them the mountain ranges are erected, with smooth outlines, relatively not high, about 1,000-1,500 m. Cryogenic forms of relief are often observed. Numerous are the arid soils: saline soils, salt marches. In the result of intensive weathering much debris are formed which fill the unevenness of the relief creating smooth hills. In the bottom of intermountain bowls filled with detrital rocks the blockage-type lakes are often observed.
The Eastern Pamirs ranges - North-and South-Alichur, Vakhan, Muzcol, Pshart, Zaalai - have nearly latitudinal stretching while the Sarykol range has a meridional one. The valleys of the Aksu, Alichur, Markansu, Murgab, Tanamys are vast, well-distinguished, usually of a wash-tub form. The Eastern Pamirs highland is considered to be next to the Tibet highest uplift in the world The depths of the Pamirs are very rich in mineral resources. Sine the remote past are known the deposits of Badakshan lal (noble spinel), lazurite, ruby and gold placer. The gemstones and jeweller's stones of the Pamirs have been mentioned in the manuscripts since the 5th -8th century. Only in the Kuhi-Lal district about 500 mine-workings have been revealed. At present, the deposit of rock-crystal, gold, silver, asbestos, etc. have been discovered. More than 50 healing springs are known here, among them such as Garmchashma, Junt, Avnj, etc.
The geographical positions and the local conditions influence greatly the climate formation. The rarity of the atmosphere though stipulates the increased solar radiation, but at the same time it is the cause of large heat losses.
In the Western Pamirs the negative air temperature are recorded for about 3 months. The real winter lasts from 40 days in the areas at the altitudes of 1,400 m to 200-220 days, 3,500 m. Winters are cold and severe. The average January temperatures are -6 or -8 C. the absolute minimum may drop to -32 C.
Special attention must be paid to the Qalai-Humb district where the average January temperature is +6.2 C. The real winter is practically absent. The Humidity conditions in the Western Pamirs are not equal everywhere. In the valleys precipitations constitute in average 200-300mm per year, the dryness being increased from north to south.
In the Eastern Pamirs winter lasts for 6-7 months with strong frosts and little snow. Negative temperatures are registered in the middle of October. The average January temperature is -18 to -25 C. The absolute minimum is -49 C., in the Bulunkul district it may drop to -63 C. The summer is short and cool. The average July temperature is +9-14 C, the absolute maximum may reach +26-33 C.
More than 170 rivers run in the Pamirs, their total length is about 5 thousand km. The largest of them, the Panj, with its tributaries Shahdara, Bartang, etc. have their origin in the glaciers of Central and Northern Pamirs. Their potential power capacity makes up 13 million. kilowatts. There are many lakes of tectonic and glacial origin in the Pamirs, the largest of them are Karakul, Zorkul, Rangkul, etc.
The vegetation in the Western Pamirs in flood plains and terrace drifts is comparatively rich. Such arboreal species as a willow, palne-tree, walnut, apple-tree, cherry-plum, Turkestan maple; many shrubs and meadow areas dominate in this region. Higher in the mountains birch woods, poplar trees and sea-buckthorn can be seen. On the flat slopes some settlements with pastures and farms are scattered.
The Eastern Pamirs is distinguished by the absence of arboreal vegetation. The shrubs and grasses are dominating here. The animal kingdom in the Pamirs is rather rich and diverse. The wild ram is believed to be the most beautiful of the hoofed animals in Central Asia. The horns of some wild rams weigh 20-30 kg.
The mountain goat lives on the rocks and talus slopes covered with grass. The beasts are presented by snow leopards, brown bears and wolves. Marmots are often seen here. Many water-fowls fly here to build their nests: wild pink ducks, Indian geese; in the highlands such birds as Tibet ulars, Tibet Sadja, snow griffon and other birds of prey can be observed.
The Pamirs was most difficult to access in the past times. The first highway Osh-Khorog was built in 1930s, which promoted the development of the region economy. The power engineering has been rapidly developed: the Khorog, Vanch, Kalaithumb and other hydro-power stations have been erected. Nowadays the Pamir-1 and Pamir-2 hydro-power stations are being built on the Gunt. In the perspective, the solar power station building is planned in the interests of the region economy development. The light industry and food branches are being developed, as well as the building materials field. Of great perspective is the production of souvenirs and jewellery on the basis of coloured and jeweller's stones in kisklak Porshnev.
Much attention is now being paid to the handicrafts. The Pamirs woolen socks, djurabs, are famous all over the Republic and beyond it. The population in the Western Pamirs is engaged in agriculture and cattle-breeding, while in the Eastern Pamirs in cattle-breeding only. The highest in the country the Pamirs Botanical gardens was founded in 1931 near Khorog where the experiments on the improvement of horticultures and berry-cultures in high-mountainous conditions are being made.