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Definition: Dushanbe from Philip's Encyclopedia

(Dusanbe) Capital of Tajikistan, at the foot of the Gissar Mountains, Central Asia. Founded in the 1920s, it was known as Stalinabad from 1929-61. An industrial, trade and transport centre, it is the site of Tadzhik University and Academy of Sciences. Industries: cotton milling, engineering, leather goods, food processing. Pop. (2002 est.) 580,800.

Summary Article: DUSHANBE
from Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture

Dushanbe is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan, a landlocked mountainous country in Central Asia. The city is situated in the west of the country at the confluence of two rivers, the Varzob and the Kofarnihon. Its population is about 679,000. The name Dushanbe means “Monday” in the native Tajik language and comes from the fact that the site was once a periodic market that functioned on Mondays.

Historical Overview

Although archaeological evidence indicates that the site of Dushanbe may have been settled as far back as the fifth-century BC, the settlement was never more than a small village until the 20th century. The Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created within Uzbekistan in 1924, and in 1925 the city was designated as capital. In 1929, when the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was created within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in place of the “autonomous” republic within the Uzbek republic, Dushanbe was renamed Stalinabad in honor of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. In 1961, in the process of de-Stalinization, the city's name reverted to Dushanbe. During the Soviet period (1921–1991), the city was made into a silk and cotton production center, and many Russians and other ethnic groups from around the Soviet Union were resettled into the city. In 1990, there was rioting in the city over rumors that the Soviet government planned to resettle large numbers of ethnic Armenians into the city. In 1991, Tajikistan gained its independence when the Soviet Union fell apart. The statue of Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin that had stood in front of the parliament building was toppled almost immediately. There was a period of civil war from 1992 to 1997 about issues of ethnic representation in the new government that resulted in considerable damage to the city. Many Russian residents fled Tajikistan during this time, as some factions in the conflict called for establishment of an Islamic state. Tajikistan's economy has grown steadily since the end of the conflict, and Dushanbe has evolved into a prosperous commercial, industrial, and cultural center.

Major Landmarks

Major landmarks in Dushanbe include the Palace of Unity (Vahdat Palace), the Tajik State National University, the Dushanbe Government Building, and the Tajik National Museum. The city also has a towering monument to Amir Ismail Samami, a leader of the Samanid Empire that flourished in the 9th and 10th centuries and that is regarded as the first Tajik state.

Culture and Society

The population of Dushanbe is mostly ethnic Tajik, with minority populations of Uzbeks and Russians. The large majority of residents are Muslims. Since the end of the Soviet period, there has been a revival of Islamic religious worship and education in Dushanbe. The main language of Dushanbe is Tajik, a Persian tongue, although Russian is still spoken, especially for interethnic communication. There had been a minority of Bukharan Jews in Tajikistan since the second century but very few are left. In 2008, the government of Tajikistan permitted the demolition of the historic Bukharan Jewish Synagogue in Dushanbe to make way for an urban modernization project.

Further Reading
  • Bergne, Paul. The Birth of Tajikistan: National identity and the Origins of the Republic. I. B. Tauris London, 2007.
  • Manja, Stephan.Education, Youth and Islam: The Growing Popularity of Private Religious Lessons in Dushanbe, Tajikistan,” Central Asian Survey 29, no. 4 (2010): 469-83.
  • Middleton, Robert; Huw Thomas. Tajikistan and the High Pamirs. Odyssey Books Hong Kong, 2012.
  • Copyright 2013 by Roman Adrian Cybriwsky

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