To prepare for my trip I’ve done some basic research on Tajikistan. What follows is my limited understanding of the country. Please forgive any gross errors and mischaracterizations.

In 1929 Tajikistan became an independent region within the USSR. The Central Asia States where valued for their resources which were needed to feed the Soviet Empire’s need for raw material and manpower. During the dissolution of the USSR from 1990 -1991 Tajikistan declared itself independent and the following year the country fell into a brutal 5-year civil war.

President Imomali Rahmon is credited with bringing peace to the region and has enjoyed moderate support ever since. His support remains strongest with the older generation who remembers the war but there appears to be growing dissent among the younger generation who are frustrated by a lack of economic possibilities. A large share of the population is reliant on remittances from undocumented workers who find seasonal work in Russia. My friend pointed me towards the following video which explores the remittance issues. (Thanks Susie!)

Other sources of revenue include cotton, aluminum, and a hydro power.The hydropower is largely financed by foreign investment which has proven to be unreliable and as a result growth has been limited.

In short it is not a particularly rosy picture: Tajikistan is the poorest country in central Asia, has limited national resources, an employment problem and sticky political situation.