Tajikistan – Chapter One

Posted: July 29, 2012 in Tajikistan

If all the 15 Soviet republics, Tajikistan was at the bottom of the social and economic scale. Its economy was singularly based on cotton, which was traded to Russia in exchange for basic commodities and industrial parts. Well into the 1980s, thousands of hectares were hoed by women and their children, toiling in the suffocating heat and drenched with pesticides from passing

crop-dusters.

Given its economic and political dependence on the Soviet Union, when the empire disintegrated Tajikistan was ill-prepared for self rule. Never had it been an independent state; rather it was more a jigsaw puzzle of four unconnected regions, separated by snow-laden mountains that are impassable for more than half the year.

For centuries the Tajiks had occupied the eastern end of the Persian empire, ruled by the great imperial centers of Samarkand and Bukhara. Tsarist Russia conquered Central Asia in the mid-19th century and the Bolsheviks battled hard against local resistance when they annexed the region into the new Soviet Union.

In 1929, when the Soviets created republics out of the territory then called Turkestan, they placed the ancient imperial capitals under the rule of neighboring Uzbekistan, a far more populous turkic-speaking rival. The Persian-speaking Tajiks were cut adrift, and a humble village, Dushanbe, was named as their capital.

via Tajikistan – Chapter One.

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