The central Asian republic of Tajikistan has had a diverse history. Despite conflicts designed to prevent a Bolshevik takeover of central Asia after 1917, the Soviets gained control in 1925. Four years later, they established the Tajik SSR. A five-year civil war broke out in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While most former Soviet republics have become economically vulnerable, Tajikistan is the poorest among them with a per capita income of only $1,800. Sixty percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Nearly 80 percent of the population is Tajikand, and 85 percent of Tajikistanis are Sunni Muslims. Since the post-Soviet return to traditionalism, there has been little separation of church and state. Even though women have a constitutional right to equality, ...

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