Tajikistan meaning Land of the Tajiks is located in Central Asia, to the west of China. The landlocked nation shares borders with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
The country became independent in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union and is covered by the Pamir mountain range.
The glaciers in these mountains are a major source of surface runoff for the Aral Sea.
The only large areas of lower land are located in valleys to the north and southwest of the country. The capital city is Dushanbe.
The Soviet invasion brought drama, opera and ballet to the region which still remains popular to this day.
However since gaining independence there has been a call for traditional Tajik art and culture to become more prominent. Traditional Tajik cuisine has much in common with Persian cuisine.
Traditional Tajik meals start with sweet dishes such as halwa and tea, and then progress to soups and meat, before finishing with plov.
Kabuli pulao, also known as qabili palau, is the Tajik national dish, a rice dish with shredded yellow turnip or carrot, meat, and olive oil or drippings, and is a staple dish in all the Central Asian republics, known elsewhere as plov. The traditional way to eat the dish is to share it communally with one's hands.
The traditional drink is green tea, sometimes consumed with nuts such as pistachios, It is Tajik belief that using ice is bad for one's health, and that drinking water or a soft drinks with ice in it will cause illness.
The mountain range divides the climate. With over 50% of the country located over 10,000ft above sea level it provides a diverse range of weather patterns.
In the lowland valleys to the southwest they experience a subtropical climate, seeing temperatures of up to 30 °C in the summer and 3 °C in winter.
Meanwhile those in the eastern parts of the country will experience a much harsher climate of 10 °C in summer and up to -20 °C in winter.
Sunni Muslim 85%, Shi'a Muslim 5%, other 10%
Tajikistan first competed in the Olympic Games as in independent nation during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.
Since then they have competed in every Summer Olympics since, though only one person has ever represented the country in the Winder Olmpics with Andrei Drygin competing in the Super-G and giant slalom skiing events in the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics.
The only medal winning athlete from Tajikistan is Rasul Boqiev who won the Bronze in the Men’s under 73kg Judo event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
1994 saw the allowance of former Soviet Union states in the Asian Games competition by the IOC.
This allowed Tajikistan to claim two bronze medals.