Tajikistan, Asia - Stein Travel
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Tajikistan

The Republic of Tajikistan is a landlocked, mountainous country in central Asia with much to offer adventurers, mountaineers and lovers of the road less travelled.

Tajikistan came into being with the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990. It promptly fell into a bitter civil war until 1997 when a peace agreement lead to the formation of a republic under the largely corrupt leadership of Emomali Rahmon. Subsequent elections have been deeply flawed but peace has prevailed giving this impoverished country a chance at better things.

Dushanbe, the capital city, is famous for its Monday market and Soviet era statues and is a decent place to start a trip. In the far west of the country, the city of Khorog serves as a gateway to the magnificent Pamirs, perhaps the least explored mountain range in the world. This vast region is difficult to access but rewards its intrepid visitors with splendid Alpine vistas and endless opportunities for mountaineering.

Trekkers also come to Tajikistan to traverse the ancient Silk road routes, and in doing so retrace journeys first taken three millennia ago. Also making an appearance on the Tajik highlights reel are the seven Muragazor Lakes which famously change colour throughout the day.

The national sport is wrestling, which won a silver medal for the country in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Over 70 percent of the people live in rural areas, despite the fact that only seven percent of the land is arable. This is perhaps a clue to the persistent poverty that characterises the population.

Another negative indicator is the increasingly bizarre and autocratic leadership of President Rahmon who has recently outlawed gold fillings and decreed that guests at circumcision ceremonies should not exceed 60 people. Despite their challenges, the predominantly Muslim Tajiks are renowned for their exuberant and friendly nature, providing a ready welcome for the few visitors that come.

Information & Facts

Customs

Tajikistan culture is predominantly Islamic, and tourists should respect that. Modest clothing is expected, but women are not required to cover their heads. Men should not enter a house where only women are present and vice versa. Personal space is not generally respected, especially in public areas. It is polite to remove your shoes when entering a house. When greeting someone, you may shake hands, but it shows respect to also bow slightly with your hand placed over your heart.

Duty Free

Travellers are allowed to inport 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco products; 2 litres of alcohol; perfume for personal use; and other items intended for personal use not exceeding US$500 in value. Complete the customs declaration form in full upon entry into Tajikistan, noting any valuables, jewellery, and electronic goods, plus cash over US$500.

Passport Visa

It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

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