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Discovery Tajikistan travel guide #2/2010
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INTRODUCTION

Tajikistan is a newly independent republic, peaceful and magnificent, beautiful and remote, and covered more than 93 per cent by mountains. This country has much to offer to adventurous travellers. There are opportunities for alpine mountaineering, rock climbing, hiking, horse or camel riding, historical exploration, cultural experiences or simply relaxing among dramatic mountains and lakes.

Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan to the south, China to the east, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and Uzbekistan to the west and northwest. The ancient Silk Road passed through it. The capital of Tajikistan is Dushanbe. The city of Penjikent has some impressive remains of the ancient Sogdian civilization and is close to the border with Uzbekistan. It can be more easily reached from Samarkand.

Dushanbe, the striking tree-lined capital, sits amongst a stunning mountain backdrop and lacks any of the bustle that travellers have come to associate with Asian capitals. This is in stark contrast to a decade ago, when the bullets were flying, but the damage has been covered over, and now it is a relaxing city, where you can experience the sugar of the locally made colas and snack on local dishes like nahud sambusa (a chick pea samosa). 

Unlike most peoples in the region, the Tajiks are not a Turkic people, but are closely related to the Iranians. The Tajik language is similar to Farsi, and some of the best and most famous 'Iranian' poets are actually Tajiks. The national sport is wrestling, for which the country won a silver medal 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.

Enjoy a home stay along the route of the Pamir Highway, a road lined with snowy peaks, high altitude lakes and sensational scenery. It is a little remote, but that is the draw, along with the chance to admire the views and munch on krutob, the rural staple food made up of bread, yoghurt, onion and coriander. Another cultural immersion opportunity comes in the form of a yurt stay on Tajikistan’s plains, a different but equally fascinating experience.

Most enticing for the mountaineer are the three giants of the Pamirs - Peak Communism (7495m), recently renamed Somoni, Peak Lenin (7134m) and Peak Korjenevskaya (7105m). The Fann mountains, just across the border from Samarkand, are especially popular for alpine climbing, high level walking tours and lakeland scenery.

The populated valleys have a rich history. In former times, Tajikistan was at the crossroads of Asia, and four major Silk Road routes passed through the Pamir and Fann mountains. There is evidence of the Sogdian (Zoroastrian) civilization, as well as Buddhist, Hindu and Christian remains. More recently, the country's Islamic history has produced some fine examples of Central Asian Islamic art and architecture. And of course the Soviet period of the 20th Century has left its mark on art and architecture, such as the huge statue of Lenin overlooking the city of Khujand, and engineering achievements like the Nurek Hydroelectric Dam (the tallest artificial dam in the world).

The remote Wakhan Valley is half Tajik and half Afghanistani. There are Buddhist ruins galore and more of those special views that Tajikstan is slowly becoming known for, including views of the magnificent Hindu Kush. If you’re more of a city person, Istaravashan is hardly a metropolis, but it is home to an exotic market, gorgeous architecture, and even fewer tourists than the rest of the country. 

Whether your interest is mountaineering, trekking, adventure travel or business, you can find the travel information that you need in our Discovery Tajikistan Travel Guide! The guide is a comprehensive guide to travel and tourism in Tajikistan, including flight schedules, visa and entry requirements, sightseeing, holidays, cuisine and other essential travel information.

Silk Road Media has published Discovery Kazakhstan, Discovery Kyrgyzstan, Discovery Issyk Kul, Discovery Tajikistan and Discovery Uzbekistan travel guides. There have been 14 issues in five languages - English, French, German, Japanese, and Russian.

The Discovery Travel Guide is a reliable travel guide, with special features, such as 100 essential pages about any one country, apolitical in style, with accessible language, large photos and rich text, good maps, a favorable price, and an exclusive pocket-size format.

The Discovery Tajikistan Travel Guide is researched and written by professional travel writers and local experts. It contains up-to-date information on visa regulations, public holidays, festivals, sight-seeing, museums, stunning landscapes, trekking, skiing, entertainment, and the best hotels and restaurants.

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