Gorno-Badakhshan

Gorno-Badakhshan (gôrˈnə-bädäkhshänˈ, –bədəkhshänˈ) [key] or Badakhshan, Tajik Kuhistoni Badakhshon, autonomous province (1991 est. pop. 167,100), c.24,600 sq mi (63,710 sq km), roughly constituting the eastern half of Tajikistan, in the Pamir. It is bordered by China on the east and by Afghanistan on the south and west and is separated from Pakistan and Azad Kashmir by a narrow strip of Afghan territory. The eastern section (East Pamir) is a high plateau, and the western part (West Pamir) is cut by high ranges and deep, narrow valleys. Khorugh is the capital. The population is mainly Pamiri, who speak several Iranian languages, with Kyrgyz and other minorities. In addition to the local languages, Tajik and Russian are widely spoken. Gold, salt, mica, limestone, and coal are mined. In the east livestock is raised (yaks, sheep, cattle, and goats), and in the western valleys grain, vegetables, and beans are grown.

Formerly under the control of the Mongols and the Arabs, the region passed to Russian control in 1895. Under Soviet rule, the area became the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in 1925. Since Tajikstan's independence, central government control in the region has been tenuous. Former warlords (from the country's 1990s civil war) retain considerable influence and engage in drug and tobacco smuggling, and fighting between local armed groups and government forces erupted in mid-2012. The region also has been called Mountain-Badakhshan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Gorno-Badakhshan from Fact Monster:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography