Battered by a five-year civil war at the onset of its independence, Tajikistan has struggled with poverty and instability in the two decades since it became its own state.
The country remains strongly dependent on Russia, both for its economy and to help counter security problems. In particular, Tajikistan depends on Moscow to help fight drug smuggling from neighbouring Afghanistan and an emerging radical Islam movement.
Tajikistan is also expanding its ties with China: Beijing has extended credits and has helped to build roads, tunnels and power infrastructure. Chinese firms are investing in oil and gas exploration and in gold mining.
- Capital: Dushanbe
- Population: 7.1 million
- Area: 143,100 sq km (55,251 sq miles)
- Major languages: Tajik, Uzbek, Russian
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 65 years (men), 71 years (women)
- Currency: Tajik somoni