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Tajikistan is one of the new Central Asian republics that emerged as an independent state in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union. As its name implies, it is distinctive in consisting almost entirely of members of the Tajik ethnic group. The name “Tajik” is synonymous with “Persian,” and the language spoken by the Tajiks of Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan is a variant of modern Persian, Farsi. Unlike the Persians in Iran, however, the Tajiks in Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan are Sunn? Muslims rather than Shi'a. Of the 8 million inhabitants of Tajikistan (2010 estimates), 95% are Sunnī Muslims, 3% are Shi'a Muslims, and the remaining 2% are mostly Christians of various denominations, with a small number of Buddhists and Jews.

Though Islam was ...

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