/div>Country, Central Asia. Area: 55,300 sq mi (143,100 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 6,952,000. Capital: Dushanbe
. The majority of the population are Tajiks; Uzbeks make up a large minority. Languages: Tajik (official), Russian. Religion: Islam (predominantly Sunni). Currency: somoni. Tajikistan is a mountainous country; about half of its territory lies at elevations above 10,000 ft (3,000 m), with the Pamirs
dominating the east. The entire region is prone to seismic activity. The Amu Darya
and Syr Darya
rivers cross it and are used for irrigation. Cotton, cattle, fruits, vegetables, and grains are raised. Heavy industries include coal mining, petroleum and natural gas extraction, metalworking, and nitrogen fertilizer production. Notable light industries are cotton milling, food processing, and textiles. Tajikistan is a republic with two legislative houses; the head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Settled by Persians c.
the 6th century BCE, Tajikistan was part of the empires of the Persian Achaemenian dynasty and of Alexander the Great
and his successors. In the 7th–8th century CE it was conquered by the Arabs, who introduced Islam. The Uzbeks controlled the region in the 15th–18th centuries. In the 1860s the Russian Empire took over much of Tajikistan. In 1924 it became an autonomous republic under the administration of the Uzbek S.S.R., and it gained union republic status in 1929. It achieved independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Civil war raged through much of the 1990s between government forces and an opposition composed mostly of Islamic militants. A peace agreement was reached in 1997.