The Soviet Union was a huge world power when I was growing up. We sometimes called it by its full name (the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics) or USSR, but we commonly called it Russia. Granted, of all the “republics” in the nation, Russia was the largest. But when the USSR broke up, in1991, all of us began to hear all the names of the other “republics” that had been there all along.
Including the “-stans.”
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan were all once part of the Soviet Union, and they are all primarily Muslim. The suffix “-stan” means “place” in Iranian (also known as Persian). These Central Asian nations are often landlocked and feature either large deserts or mountainous land. Yet they each have their own distinct language, history, customs, and natural beauties.
Tajikistan is one of those landlocked mountainous nations, with rugged mountains covering more than 90% of the nation. The nation suffered from a terrible civil war after declaring independence from the USSR, from 1992 to 1997—and fighting just broke out again this July! That isn't good for tourism!
And that's too bad, because who wouldn't want to see these gorgeous scenes!
This video is from the wrong time of year—the springtime—but I love the glimpses of the colorful Tajik culture!
By the way...
- Afghanistan is near these other “-stans,” and of course is primarily Muslim, but it was never a part of the USSR, although the Soviet Union did support a Marxist Afghani government in a 9-year war that the USSR basically lost. Another Muslim “-stan” that was never part of the Soviet Union is Pakistan.
- Armenia, which was once part of the USSR, has the native name of Hayastan. It has been long associated with Christianity, rather than Islam.
- Azerbaijan is a Muslim nation that was once part of the Soviet Union, but its name doesn't end with “-stan.”
- There are many, many more “-stan”s inside the borders of Russia, Iran, the various “-stan” nations, and nearby nations. For example: Nurestan Province, Afghanistan; Dagestan, Russia; Hindustan, India; Seistan, Iran. Authors have made up fictional “-stans” for books, movies, and video games, including Tyrgyzstan in The State Within and Istan in Guild Wars Nightfall.
Also on this date: