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Geography, climate and population
Tajikistan is a mountainous, landlocked country in southeastern Central Asia. It has a total area of about 142 550 km2 (Table 1). It is bordered in the west and northwest by Uzbekistan (910 km borderline), in the northeast by the Kyrgyzstan (630 km), in the east by China (430 km) and in the south by Afghanistan (1 030 km). The country became independent in September 1991. The mountainous landscape covers 93 percent of the country. Administratively, the country is divided into four provinces: Badakhshan (64 200 km2), Khatlon (24 800 km2), Sughd (25 400 km2) and Regions (Raions) of Republican Subordination (28 154 km2).
The north Sughd and east Badakhshan regions are separated by high mountain ranges and are often isolated from the centre and south during winter. The Fergana valley, which is a major agricultural area, covers part of the north. A few valleys in the centre are between several mountain chains; most of the country is over 3 000 m above sea level. In the east are the Pamir mountains, which form part of the Himalayan mountain chain and are among the highest and most inaccessible mountains in the world. The highest mountain in the country, as well as in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), is the Ismoili Somoni peak, which rises to 7 495 m. Tunnels are being constructed through two mountain ranges to connect the capital Dushanbe with north Sughd province and China to the east of the Pamir mountains. A bridge, built over the Panj (upstream Amu Darya) river in the south connects the country with Afghanistan.
In 2009, total cultivated area was an estimated 875 000 ha. About 742 000 ha under temporary crops and 133 000 ha permanent.
The climate is continental, but the country’s mountainous terrain gives rise to wide variations. In areas cultivation takes place, mainly on the river floodplains, the climate is hot and dry in summer and mild and warm in winter. Average annual precipitation is 691 mm, ranging from less than 100 mm in the southeast and up to 2 400 mm on the Fedchenko glacier in the centre. Precipitation occurs during the winter, between September and April. Average temperature is 16–17 °C and absolute maximum temperature recorded is 48 °C in July; absolute minimum is minus 49 °C in January. The daily temperature is about 7 °C in winter and 18 °C in summer. Evapotranspiration varies from 300 mm/year to 1 200 mm/year, for stony soils and can be as much as 1 500 mm/year.
Total population in 2011 was an estimated 7 million inhabitants, of which 74 percent rural (Table 1). During the period 2001–2011, the annual population growth rate was an estimated 1.1 percent, while during the 1980s it was 3.3 percent. The main reasons for the decline were emigration and lower birth rates as a result of deteriorating socio-economic conditions. The population density is about 49 inhabitants/km2, ranging from three inhabitants/km2 in the southeast to 186–243 inhabitants/km2 in the districts around Dushanbe; 221–359 inhabitants/km2 in the districts around Qurghonteppa and 223–377 inhabitants/km2 in the districts around Khujand.
In 2010, 64 percent of the population had access to improved water sources (92 and 54 percent in urban and rural areas respectively). Sanitation coverage accounted for 94 percent (95 and 94 percent in urban and rural areas respectively).