Tajikistan is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia. It is landlocked, bordering East Turkestan, Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Unlike the other Soviet -stan countries, Tajiks are related to Iranians, not Turks, and they speak a Persian language, not a Turkic one.
Tajikistan became independent in 1991 from the Soviet Union. It immediately fell into civil war, mostly along tribal and clan lines. It escalated into a war pitting the Tajik, Uzbek, and Russian governments against various nationalist and Islamist groups. An armistice was declared in 1997, after the war had claimed 50,000-100,000 lives. 
The dictatorial leader of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon, has held office since 1992. The most recent elections (held in 2013) gave him 84% of the vote, with the other candidates being "virtual unknowns even inside the country". Human rights activist Oynihol Bobonazarova, the candidate nominated by a coalition of opposition groups, was barred from running. . Media is also severely censored and repressed in Tajikistan.