Tajikistan is the smallest of the Central Asian former Soviet republics with an area of 143,100 square kilometers. 50% of the territory is covered with high mountains above 3,000 meters. The peak Somoni, formerly peak communism, was the highest elevation of the Soviet Union with 7,495 m. It lies in the extremely sparsely populated Autonomous Province of Badakhshan in the eastern part of the country, which covers about 45% of the territory of Tajikistan where only 3% of the country’s population live.
Tajikistan has a population of 9.1 million and borders on Kyrgyzstan in the north, Uzbekistan in the west, Afghanistan in the south and China in the north. The Tajiks make up the majority of the population, at 84%. In addition, 13% of Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians and Germans live in the country. The aforementioned autonomous province of Badajshan is a special case. There live 90% Pamir Tajiks, also called Pamiris, who differ linguistically, culturally and religiously from the other Tajiks. They are committed to Ismaili Islam while the Tajiks are otherwise Sunni Muslims. Pamir Kyrgyzstan also lives in the region.
The capital is Dushanbe, which was expanded from a small settlement in the Soviet era to the capital. Dushanbe means Monday. The name derives from the fact that the weekly market was held on Monday. With a 14 m long statue, the National Museum houses one of the largest Buddha images in Asia.
The climate is extremely continental with an almost seamless change from summer to winter.
Tajikistan is the only country in Central Asia whose official language is not a Turkic language. Tajik is a Persian language. The Tajiks refer to their descent from the Persian Samanid dynasty, which ruled Central Asia in the 9th to 10th centuries.