TAJIKISTAN

Tajikistan Flag
Country Description: Tajikistan, a newly independent nation in central Asia, has been undergoing profound political and economic changes since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Since the civil war in 1992, sporadic fighting has continued, largely in remote areas. Tourist facilities are undeveloped and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries are unavailable. The U.S. Embassy is very limited in the services it can provide outside Dushanbe.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Entry into Tajikistan at points along the Gorno-Badakhshan border requires special authorization in advance. Without a visa, travelers cannot register at hotels and may be required to leave the country immediately. In the U.S., visas for Tajikistan are issued by the Russian Embassy, Consular Division, 1825 Phelps Place N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-8907, or the Russian Consulates in New York, San Francisco or Seattle. Tajik visas granted by these offices are valid for a stay of five days in Tajikistan. Visas issued for other CIS countries (except Turkmenistan) are also valid for up to a five-day stay in Tajikistan. If travelers plan a longer stay, they may apply for a longer visa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after arriving in the country.

Note: Travelers who intend to visit Tajikistan should obtain double entry Russian visas, or apply for an additional single entry-visa in Dushanbe for the return flight through Russia.

Internal Travel: Travel to, from and within Tajikistan is difficult and unreliable. Flights may be canceled or substantially delayed. Return commercial charter flights are frequently overloaded with merchandise. International train connections are dangerous because of criminals operating on board. The U.S. Embassy and the U.N. security advisory for Tajikistan have recommended a curfew for their personnel to remain in their residences from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Travelers to Tajikistan should contact the U.S. Embassy for updated security information.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Although the security situation in the capital and environs is generally stable, there are occasional terrorist attacks in Dushanbe and the Gharm Valley, mostly against Russian nationals and Tajik government officials. In addition, there have been demonstrations resulting in clashes with police. To date, others including Americans, have not been targeted, but bystanders have been hurt in some of these attacks. Because the situation is unpredictable and potentially dangerous, U.S. travelers should avoid demonstrations, crowds, and places where military personnel congregate in order to minimize risk.

There have also been incidents of fighting between the government, Russian border guards and opposition forces, mainly in remote sections along the Afghan border, and between the government, opposition, and bandit forces, mainly in the Gharm Valley and Tavildara.

Travelers can expect to find checkpoints and, occasionally, unsettled conditions in the Gharm Valley and the autonomous region of Gorno Badakhshan (the eastern mountainous half of Tajikistan). Travel within 15 miles of the Afghanistan border is tightly controlled and potentially dangerous because of occasional armed clashes. The potential for terrorist incidents, primarily targeted against the Russian military, continues to exist. Security forces continue to maintain a conspicuous presence in the capital and most major cities in the southern half of the country. U.S. citizens may wish to check with the U.S. Embassy for current information on the security situation in these areas before considering travel there.

Medical Facilities: The medical infrastructure of Tajikistan has deteriorated significantly. Many trained medical personnel have left the country. There is a general scarcity of medical equipment and medicines, and a potential for significant disease outbreaks due to population shifts and the breakdown in immunization activity. There have been outbreaks of typhoid south of Dushanbe, and the risk of cholera and water-borne illnesses is high. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuation, has proved useful. The government of Tajikistan has recently passed legislation requiring visitors who will remain in country for more than 90 days to present a medical certificate showing that they are AIDS-free, or to submit to an AIDS test in Tajikistan. This testing requirement has not been implemented, but could be at any time. Because of the lack of medical supplies, submitting to an AIDS test in Tajikistan could be risky. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers' hotline, telephone (404) 332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Tajikistan is a country with a struggling economy and widespread unemployment, which have resulted in high street crime. Travelers may not wish to travel alone or on foot after dark. Motorists should stop at checkpoints, as police will shoot at motorists running checkpoints. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful information on guarding valuables and maintaining personal security while traveling abroad. It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402 and through the information systems listed in the header of this publication.

Currency Regulations: Tajikistan is a cash-only economy. International banking services are not available. Credit cards and traveler's checks are not accepted. Travel with large amounts of cash can be dangerous. Although some private shops continue to accept Russian rubles, Tajikistan has introduced it's own currency, the Tajik ruble. It is illegal to trade in any currency but the Tajik ruble. The Tajik ruble must be used in all state shops and to purchase airline tickets on Air Tajikistan.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are urged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Tajikistan. The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe is temporarily located at the Hotel October, 105A Prospekt Rudaki; telephone (7-3772) 21-03-56.

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