Tajikistan is a republic in the Central Asia, bordered by Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, China and Afghanistan, formerly a Soviet country, and currently an independent country in the CIS. 90% of the territory is covered by Turkestan, Gissar and Zeravshan Mountain Ranges, as well as Pamir Range along the southeast of the country (height up to 7495m).
Tajikistan is a landlocked country; it is the smallest country in the Central Asia by area. The capital city is Dushanbe. Tajikistan is the only Iranian-speaking republic in the former Soviet Central Asia. The population is around 8.6 million people, the majority is Sunni Muslims. Tajikistan is rich in natural resources, but prevalent mountainous relief and poor infrastructures make extraction of raw materials difficult. Moreover, Tajikistan is far from main Eurasian transport roads.
After the region's conquest by Alexander the Great it became a part of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, a successor state of Alexander's empire. Northern Tajikistan (the cities of Khujand and Panjakent) was part of Sogdia, a group of city-states which was overrun by Scythians and Yuezhi nomadic tribes around 150 BC. In 9-10th centuries, Tajikistan was conquered by Sassanid Iran, and the term “tajik” started to be used in its modern meaning. Gradually, an Iranian-Tajik joint culture was formed in the persons of Rudaki, Ferdowsi, Ibn Sina, Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Saadi, Hafez, Ayni, Jami and others.
At the rise of the 8th century, Tatar-Mongols invaded Tajikistan. In the 16th century, it was annexed to Khanate of Khiva. In the 18th century, Khanate of Kokand was formed, and in the first part of the 19th century, Tajikistan was divided between Khanates of Kokand and Bukhara. In 1868, Russia conquered Samarkand, and the Emir of Bukhara became a subject to Russia. In 1917, the October Revolution extended to the whole Turkestan region, including the northern part of Tajikistan. From autumn 1921 to summer 1923, there were riots of nationalistic groups called Basmachi Movement. Their defeat led to consolidation of the Soviet rule in the whole region.
In 1924-29, Tajikistan was an autonomy in the Uzbek SSR (currently Uzbekistan), and only on October 16, 1929, it was reorganized as the Tajik SSR and thus included in the USSR. Tajikistan proclaimed its independence in 1991.
The main population that is 80% are Tajik. Among other nations, there are Uzbeks, Russians, Tatars, Kyrgyzs, Germans, Jews, Turkmens, Kazakhs, Armenians, etc.
Christians in Tajikistan are a religious minority. Most Christians are Orthodox (mainly Russians), and are members of the Dushanbe Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Protestantism is the second Christian movement in the country by the number of believers. In Tajikistan, there are also Catholics, Pentecostals, Adventists, Baptists, Lutherans and others.
Officially, Tajikistan is a secular country, but in fact, it is not. The influence of Islam is dominant in the lives of Tajik people. The society in general follows Islam. The law affirms liberty of conscience, and according to the Constitution, Tajikistan is a free country; however, the Religious Committee controls other religious movements. The government and the extremists periodically oppress Christian institutions in the country by banning distribution of Christian literature, etc.