The area of central Asia known as Tajikistan has remains of mankind going back to 4,000 B.C. From around 550 B.C. to 329 B.C. the area was dominated by the Achaemenid or Persian Empire.

The Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great who occupied the area for a short time before the Hellenistic successor states were formed between 329 B.C. and 90 B.C. They in turn were defeated by the Yuezhi who had, by 30 B.C., created a new empire called the Kushan Empire.

The Sassanids went on to rule large parts of the modern Tajikistan before the Chinese occupied much of the land. From small raiding parties the Arabs took an increasing interest in the area and by 715 A.D. had conquered much of the area and it came under the Arab Caliphate and Islam.

The Samanid Empire displaced the Caliphate and grew the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, but they in turn only lasted until 999 A.D when the area went through a period of turmoil and numerous invasions.

The Mongols arrived in 1218 and they and their successors survived until around 1740 when the region was taken over once more by the Persians. By the 19th Century the Russian Empire was expanding into Asia and after a series of battles Emir Mozaffar al-Din signed a peace treaty with the Governor-General of Russian Turkestan on 18th June 1868. It took the Russians another 60 years to quell the entire region but by 1920 the last emir was defeated by the Russians.

Meanwhile, in Russia a revolution had been taking place and the Bolsheviks took over after a four year war. In 1924, the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as a part of Uzbekistan, but in 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) was made a separate constituent republic.

As elsewhere, by the late 1980s the nationalists were calling for an autonomous republic and following the collapse of the Soviet Union, on 9th September 1991 Tajikistan declared independence. A civil war followed independence and the non-Muslim population, especially the Jews and Russians fled the region. The civil war was to drag on from 1992 until 1997, but in 1994 Emomalii Rahmon came to power as the third president of the Republic.

Rahmon’s rule was opposed by the United Tajik Opposition (UOT) but on 27th June 1997 President Rahmon, UTO leader Sayid Abdulloh Nuri and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General signed the “General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan” in Moscow which ended the civil war.

Emomalii Rahmon won the 1999 presidential election with 97.6% of the vote and the 2006 election with 79.3%. The elections were partially boycotted by various groups and international observers noted that there was no ‘competitive’ election campaign taking place.

Independents won 113 of the 181 seats in the parliament in 1995. In September 1999 a bicameral legislature was introduced and in 2000 President Emomali Rahmon’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 36 of 63 seats in the Assembly of Representatives or lower house. That went up to 49 of 63 seats in 2005 and 55 of 63 seats in 2010.

In 2013 Emomalii Rahmon won the Presidential election for a fourth term in office with 86.9% on a turnout of 86.6%. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) described the election as lacking “pluralism and genuine choice.”

Nothing much changed in 2015 when the PDP was returned again with 51 of the 63 seats in the Assembly of Representatives; four other parties shared out the remaining 12 seats.

The President is elected by popular vote for a seven year term and may serve a second term.

The bicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly or upper house which has 34 seats of which 25 members are selected by local deputies, 8 are appointed by the President and 1 seat is reserved for the former President. Members serve five year terms. The Assembly of Representatives or lower house has 63 members elected by popular vote to serve five year terms.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Tajikistan at joint 151st out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 25 (where 100 is least corrupt).