Tajikistan is a mountainous former Soviet republic in Central Asia. Almost immediately upon attaining independence in 1991, the country erupted into a bloody civil war, which lasted from 1992-1997 and killed up to 100,000 people. An additional estimated 1.2 million of the country’s total population of 8 million were displaced. In the nearly two decades since the official end of the war, the country’s economy has languished, and it remains the poorest former Soviet nation. Although the government of President Emomalii Rahmon has attempted to expand health care to all citizens, the system remains underdeveloped, and eye care is particularly lacking.
Dushanbe, the capital and largest city, has a population of 778,500. It is believed to have been founded in the 5th century BC, but remained a tiny village until the 20th century, when the USSR transformed it into a center for cotton and silk production.
Dushanbe: May 1-30, Sept. 30-Oct. 7
Dushanbe: May 5