(Republic of Tajikistan, Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон,
- Location: Central Asia
- Capital: Dushanbe
- Language(s): Tajik
- Population: 8,456,464
- Total Area: 143,100 sq km
- Currency: Somoni
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Tajikistan is a predominantly Muslim nation and alcohol is not seen in good light.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.39 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Green tea, fruit juice
The Republic of Tajikistan is located at the center of Central Asia and is bounded by other countries in the region: China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Landlocked and rigged with mountain ranges, Tajikistan is also home to the Gorno-Badakhshan, an autonomous region. The country was one of the constituents of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics but became independent in 1991. Tajikistan is known for its forbidding mountain ranges. Some of these are the Pamirs, Gissar and Zeravshan and it should not sound incredible to know that some of the highest peaks in the region are found in Tajikistan. Apart from the towering mountains, the land of the Tajiks is also littered with lakes –Shadaw Lake, Kulikalon Lake, Karakul Lake and many others.
More than 60% of the people are ethnic Tajiks while the others are Ukrainians, Tatars, Russians, Uzbeks, Armenians, Jews and Germans. An overwhelming number of Tajiks are Muslims while there is a tiny proportion of Christians, Zoroastrians (from Iran) and Buddhists. Cultivation of cotton and the production of aluminum are the major economic activities in this former Soviet republic. The most widely spoken language is Tajik (Tojiki) while Russian is also used in various parts of the country. Tajiks are very nice people and I will always remember and cherish the warm welcome given to me by my hosts in their Dushanbe home.
It is easy to conclude that there is not much to eat in a land full of mountains and lakes. If you have subscribed to that thought, the Tajiks will prove you wrong with their array of dazzling dishes. One of the most well-known dishes in the country is plov, and is made using rice, sliced carrots, beef or chicken and is then heated in oil. Plov is taken by almost all Tajiks and is seen as the national dish. Soups are also regularly served and a delicious example is the one called piti made using vegetables and spices. Taken as snack by the people is a special type of bread called non and I took some with warm milk –nothing tasted better! Dairy products are taken by young and old, and as a tourist, you will be given copious amounts of milk and yogurt –yummy, isn’t it?
As it is the tradition in other states of Central Asia, the most popular drink in the country is green tea and there is virtually no Tajik home where you will not find a pot of hot, aromatic tea. You will also find the warm milk and yogurt quite tasty and creamy. Alcoholic beverages are not that popular but you can get in some hotels and bars in Dushanbe, the capital city.
If you are lover of mountain climbing and hiking, there are various ranges in the country and you may attempt to conquer a few. However, it is always advisable to go with a tour guide or the locals who are always of immense assistance. The most enchanting city in the country is Dushanbe and you have to tour it!
In Tajikistan, football is so popular that there is even a national team dedicated to representing the Central Asian nation in regional and international soccer engagements. Other forms of sports in the country have evolved in accordance with the mountainous nature of the country –especially hiking and mountain climbing.
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Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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