Tajikistan's economy is dependent on agriculture and livestock raising. Two thirds of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, and as much as half of the workforce has been employed in Russia or other foreign countries; the remittances of workers abroad forms a significant portion (40% to 50%) of Tajikistan's GDP. More than half the country's population lives in poverty, and official corruption is a serious problem.
Tajikistan's lowlands specialize in the cultivation of cotton, wheat, barley, fruit (including wine grapes), vegetables, and mulberry trees (for silk). Karakul sheep, dairy cattle, goats, and yaks are raised. The republic's mountains hold deposits of silver, gold, uranium, tungsten, zinc, lead, coal, antimony, salt, and mercury, and mining and aluminum, zinc, and lead processing are important industries. There is some petroleum. Tajikistan is well provided with hydroelectric resources, but due to poor management the country has suffered from seasonal power shortages in recent years. Other industries include light manufacturing (textiles, chemicals, and fertilizers) and food processing.
Aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, and textiles are exported. Imports include electricity, petroleum products, aluminum oxide, machinery and equipment. Trade is primarily with the Netherlands, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. The country's economic problems and political turmoil have led Tajikistan to become an important heroin smuggling transit point.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.