Inhabited by Iranian peoples for over 2,500 years (the recognized forbears of Tajikistan) this land was overrun by assorted empires for centuries.
Strongly influenced by the Chinese, it was the Islamic Arabs that conquered this land and is the reason that Islam became its prominent religion.
Following Arab rule, the Samanid Empire took control, and then the Mongols as they accumulated land throughout Central Asia.
Through the 16th century, Tajikistan was ruled successively by the Turks, Uzbeks, and numerous smaller dynasties, and over time, the wide variety of peoples transformed into a somewhat unorganized group of isolated municipalities and khanates, that eventually came under Russian rule in the mid-19th century.
Already a vast empire, the Russian's experienced few complications in overpowering the Tajiks, and under Soviet ruling, the Tajiks were forced to adapt to their newly assigned "Uzbek" identity. Schools were closed, and Tajiks were not granted leadership positions purely because of their ethnicity.
Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Tajikistan became an independent republic in 1991, and has now emerged from the bloody civil war that plagued the country for almost six years.
During the new millennium, Tajikistan saw a number of countries stationed within and along their border, including Russian and French troops. In September of 2010 a military airport near Dashanbe was rebuilt by the Government of India, and is now the main grounds for the Tajikistan air force.
Tajikistan is in the early stages of a western-leaning attitude; joining NATO's Partnership for Peace and aggressively seeking a World Trade Organization membership. However, this isolated country remains poor, and must depend on economic assistance from the international community in an effort to create jobs and improve its economic stability.
Dushanbe, the capital city, was reconstructed by the Russians atop previous settlements on the same spot. The city features wide, tree-lined streets, and for the most part, one-story buildings, due in fact to the frequent earthquakes that occur in Tajikistan.