Tajikistan is a country facing huge challenges due to its geography alone. It is landlocked, the next deep-sea port being some 3,000 kilometers away, its territory is almost entirely surrounded by mountains. This rugged terrain means that the country has heavily underdeveloped infrastructure; some parts of the country are even inaccessible in the winter. Consequentially, the transportation costs are high. In addition, the mountainous area means that Tajikistan faces a lack of cropland and is increasingly dependent on importation of food and other goods.
Tajikistan is the poorest of all former Soviet Union States, and unlike its neighboring countries, lacks natural resources like ore, gold oil and gas. As the economy is underdeveloped especially in terms of production, many Tajiks are forced to work abroad. According to a World Bank study, Tajikistan is the country depending most on remittances by labor migrants in the world. Whereas the country has around seven million citizens – a number which is quickly growing, adding to the already large problems – an estimated number of between one to one-and-a-half million migrant workers, mostly working in Russia and Kazakhstan. The money these migrants are making ensures that about 60 percent of the population can provide in their daily needs. Basically, without their money, the country’s economy would break down. According to a report by the Central Bank of Russia, these remittances sum up to 3.65 billion US dollars, second only to the sum Uzbek migrant workers are sending home.
Open Doors estimates the number of Christians at slightly more than 1% of the population.
Officially, there is freedom of religion, but on a local level, people who become Christians face threats, beatings, arson attacks and other forms of persecution from mullahs, local authorities, neighbors and relatives.
Tajik identity is associated with being Muslim. Consequently, changing religion brings great shame on the family.
The indigenous Tajik church is a young church; half of the population of Tajikistan is under 18 years of age.
*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes