(Reuters) - Here are some key facts about the Central Asian state of Tajikistan, where President Imomali Rakhmon is likely to win another seven-year term in a November 6 election.
GEOGRAPHY: Tajikistan, a landlocked former Soviet republic, covers an area of 142,000 sq km (55,000 sq miles). It borders Kyrgyzstan in the north, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south and Uzbekistan in the northwest.
The Pamir mountains, topping 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) and known locally as the “Roof of the World”, make up more than 90 percent of its territory.
POPULATION: 8 million. Tajiks are ethnically akin to Persians and their language is similar to Farsi. Ethnic Tajiks make up 84 percent of the population, Uzbeks 12 percent, Kyrgyz 0.8 percent and Russians 0.5 percent.
HISTORY: After the demise of the Soviet Union in late 1991, a civil war broke out in 1992. Tens of thousands of people were killed during the five-year conflict. In 1997, Rakhmon’s Russian-backed government signed a peace agreement with the United Tajik Opposition, led by Islamist guerrillas.
Tajikistan was a staunch supporter of Washington’s “war on terror” in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Former imperial master Russia opened a military base and took control of a Soviet-era space monitoring centre in 2004. In October 2013, Tajikistan ratified a deal with Russia to extend Moscow’s military presence until 2042.
Tajikistan is one of the main export routes for Afghan heroin to Russia and into Europe.
RELIGION: Sunni Muslims make up 96.6 percent of the population and Shia Muslims 2.8 percent.
ECONOMY: Tajikistan remains the poorest of the 15 post-Soviet nations. Its gross domestic product grew by 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2013, roughly the same as in the same period a year ago.
In October the International Monetary Fund lowered its GDP growth forecast for Tajikistan this year to 6.7 percent from an April projection of 7.0 percent.
Some 1.2 million people, more than half of the workforce, work abroad, mostly in Russia. They send home remittances exceeding $3 billion a year, or more than 40 percent of the nation’s GDP. Monthly wages average just $135.
Forty-seven percent of Tajiks live below the poverty line, according to World Bank data. Tajikistan’s gross domestic product totaled just $860 per capita in 2012, putting it in 161th place in the world between Chad and Kenya.
Reporting by Roman Kozhevnikov; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Gareth Jones
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