“What the Hell Is Tajikistan?” “Why Do They Even Exist?”

Years ago I worked for a UN agency in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. My boss at the organization often said that her main task was to “put Tajikistan on map”. She complained that people and organizations in the West willing to fund charity projects were reluctant to give their money to Tajikistan, mainly because most of them could not even tell whether the country was real.

Very little has changed since then.

Therefore, I understand why Tajikistan is sending a handful of athletes to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Although these athletes don’t have a slightest chance of winning medals, they are sent to Sochi precisely to “put Tajikistan on a map” (as well as to justify the Tajik president’s trip there). Millions of people around the world watch opening ceremonies for the Olympics. The ceremonies, featuring the various countries’ national teams walking behind their national flags, offer the little-known nations like Tajikistan an opportunity to tell the rest of the world that they exist.

The opening ceremony for this year’s Winter Olympics gave me an opportunity to monitor people’s online reactions to watching team Tajikistan enter the Sochi stadium. Below are just some of the most typical reactions, in English and some other languages (in cases when I could understand the meaning). These tweets show that Tajikistan is still an obscure “one-of-those-stans” or “it-is-Russia-right?” countries for most people in western countries.

Tajikistan should also be grateful to the team USA whose 230 athletes walked into the stadium just before Tajikistan’s two athletes, thus providing the latter with a great contrast that helped draw people’s attention.

59 Comments

Filed under Internet, Social media, Sports, Tajikistan

59 responses to ““What the Hell Is Tajikistan?” “Why Do They Even Exist?”

  1. Marhabo

    Google it guys, it exists! You will find Pamir in there – the roof of the world….

    • You Americans know only how to play X-box and how to log in to your Facebook account. That’s it!

      Well, this article doesn’t surprise me at all. I used to be an exchange student in the US and studied in US high school. Most of American know nothing about their own country (history, geography, etc.). Some Americans even think that New York, Florida or California are countries but not states. I still remember that moment when our teacher in US high school asked “Paris is a capital city of which country?” some students were answering New York, and some were answering California and Florida. What a Shame!!!

      And YES Tajikistan exists and Tajikistan is not a made up country. You guys are laughing because USA has more athletics than Tajikistan? US is almost 70 times larger than Tajikistan. US population is almost 40 times bigger than Tajikistan’s population. Tajikistan is a small country with 8 million population and gained independence in 1991. I know some countries that got their independence 30-40 years earlier than Tajikistan but still most of them couldn’t make it to the Winter Olympics. So this means we are in progress even if our crew is 3 in Winter Olympics.

      Not only Americans have lack of geography but people from other developed countries have the same problem as well. Two weeks ago I was in Lisbon, Portugal and I met a girl there, she works in non-government organization. I told her I study in Czech Republic, she had no idea where Czech Republic is. At first she taught Czech Republic is a city, because she said “is it a small city?”. So, I tried to show a European girl where European developed country (Czech Republic) is located on the map. I mean come on guys, Czech Republic is in the center of Europe, and its one of the most developed countries of Europe but still not many European people know about it.

      Those people who never heard of Tajikistan, I am 100% sure that most of them didn’t also know about Sochi before Winter Olympics.

  2. Somonkhudot

    Stupid author! Ignorance is not argument! You are so prude for your ignorance!? Shame on you!…..Many other countries do not know about your countries. So what?! You don’t exist?! Or you don’t deserve it&&&&&&&&&&&??????????????!!!! And you worked for UN agencies in Tajikistan…..Now we know how organized this organization!

    • Dear Somonkhudot, please ask someone who actually understands English to tell you briefly what my blog post is about. The “stupid author” of this piece is from Tajikistan and knows where the country is located.

  3. Relax every one. It is such a old and beautiful country, if u don’t know about Tajiks and they’re culture, that telling me about how educated you are here and i guess, u are all white people, man, who, think, they are the best in Galactic, and every one should know, who they are. Fickingland.

  4. Sulish

    These comments about Tajikistan just made me firm in my belief that Russian/USSR education is the world’ best. People in West are lacking so much knowledge about geography and history. They have many gaps in their education , or in my undesrtanding of education, they are just not educated. I grew up in remote town of Tajiiistan but i did not have any surprises with countries appeared at the Olympic openning ceremony, and not because all these countries are widely known but simply because once I studied the World’ map at school. Please read books, study well, and every country will come to the map. And no funny surprises .

    • Come on, Sulish, you know that even in present-day Tajikistan many young people have little idea about many of the world’s insignificant countries. If you ask ten Tajikistanis under 20 where Togo or Jamaica is, I wonder if at least one would be able to find the countries on the map.

      • Lilly

        That’s because the education in Tajikistan these days is shit. And that’s because we have a corrupt government. But that’s not the issue here. I think what Sulish is trying to say that most if not all of these tweets have been made by Westerners who do have (more than Tajikistanis) access to adequate education. I’ve studied both in an American high school and college and let me tell you as a 15 year-old I was not impressed by the way those kids were taught geography or history. They think there is no world outside the US. Hell, they don’t even know their 200-year-old history. I’m not a xenophobe and I don’t hate on Americans. I’m merely stating the emperical observation I had. So I think Sulish’s arguments still stands.

      • Sulish

        Alexandr u are right . but i was talking about those who was lucky to get their education at soviet time.You may know that education system in modern Tajikistan and overall situation with education is sad

      • I agree that the Soviet-educated folks knew geography well. Actually, many people in many parts of the world know about Tajikistan. In Canada, a lot of educated individuals know that Tajikistan is a post-Soviet country somewhere near Afghanistan and China.

      • Mahmudjon

        Im 19, and I know where is Togo and Jamaica is located.

  5. arash

    for those one that dont know the tajikistan i should say that it does nt matter that where it is , its peacefull country that dont make crime and corruption to get the fuckin reputation …. the offensive words that you use it shows how you are not how we are ….!!!! tnx god that dont give us such a shameful reputation :D

  6. Carlos

    You guys should study Geography! For other people some states in the US are the same…

  7. Me

    Wow, wow, wow!!! you guys have surprised me with how the westerns are lack of geographical knowledge. i could never thought that you can be so weak :(

  8. These comments about Tajikistan just made me firm in my belief that Russian/USSR education is the world’ best. People in West are lacking so much knowledge about geography and history. They have many gaps in their education , or in my understanding of education, they are just not educated. I grew up in remote town of Tajikistan but i did not have any surprises with countries appeared at the Olympic opening
    ceremony, and not because all these countries are widely known but simply because once I studied the World’ map at school. Please read books, study well, and every country will come to the map. And no funny surprises .

  9. Guys, I think we have some lack of education here. Why should I fuck**g care, if a bunch of twitter-shitter users don’t know about my country? Right, nothing to do here.

  10. never mind

    It’s good that you stupid americans don’t know about this country. At least this way we may be safer from your “peace making” army and organisations.

    • niso

      ^^^^ words of wisdom

    • Rob

      Just FYI – I spent several months in Tajikistan thanks to the US “peace making” army. We built schools for Tajik children, clinics for the Tajik sick, and wells for the Tajik thirsty. I met my wife over there and I’m very happy. Please understand that the US Army isn’t the biggest problem in Tajikistan. Of the vast amounts of money being poured into that country, very little of it ends up helping the people. Most of it lands in the pockets of the President and his supporters.

      • Lovin Tajiks from the Pamir to Khojand

        Such a pity to read this entire set of posts. It has been a longtime since Ibn Sino wrote about medicine. Tajiks can be proud to boast of a beautiful country and lovely people and should be able to stand above such a level of discussion and accusations. Like people of many counties who are quite provincial and may not know geography well, I met many Tajiks who were less familiar with their country and different regions than I but I would never fault them for that lack of knowledge. Many circumstances can lead to such a situation and of course those people are very familiar with many things which people from outside those areas would never know. So what? No need to deign to lower yourselves with hate directed to the people who made those tweets. Just help them learn about Tajikistan … let them listen to the music of the Pamir (Mubaraksho, Shams, Daler Nazarov), the music from the South … the food. The beauty of the spring in the mountains … the taste of the honey from Raksht. Come on!!! Have a little self respect rather than denigrating others especially those that have poured medicines and assistance into Tajikistan and even sent you to other countries to broaden your own education. In this life it is not worth time to expend it on negative energy … it is better to build one another up.

    • Zara

      well said ” Never Mind”. You are right

  11. Pingback: “What the Hell Is Tajikistan? Why Do They Even Exist?” · Global Voices

  12. SM

    The author couldn’t follow a better crowd…lol…guys, Tajikistanis, don’t get upset or annoyed, an average American has never been known for intelligence esp when it comes to foreign affairs…perhaps not just their average minds, remember Bush and his knowledge of geography….nice people though…as someone said before, they don’t know us because are resource poor country otherwise they would have “spread democracy” by now

  13. Sulton

    I am a Tajik ….I’ve grown up there during the war and I can tell you that it is a corrupt place with a corrupt president. Despite the hardships I LOVE my country and it’s culture. It makes me very angry that people are making fun of it without knowing a single thing about that place. To all the haters I say go fuck yourselves. To the ignorant retards I can’t even say anything because all of you are ignorant retards. To my people I say I love you

  14. Nodar

    It’s not like you need to do a research to know where what or where Tajikistan is. I was 7 or eight (born in 1988) when by just looking at a freaking map i knew not only all the countries in central Asia but their capitals and population. Its not something an educated person should be proud of though. Just look at the damn map is it so hard? These people are bunch of uneducated lazy what should i call them brats maybe?

  15. Uma

    I really feel such a shame for u guys…seems u r from the greatest countries.. But so fucking stupid,, seems instead of brains u have only a kilos of shits… Tajikistan had a greatest empire, which the world had ever knew! Just brush ur fucking brains!

  16. Zeyd

    Take it easy folks. Remember ‘Kryzakhstan’? If the Secretary of States does not have a little understanding of geography, what to expect from these stupid jerks?

  17. Sino

    Our country is still very young! There should be no surprise that not many people know about it! But I believe one day this trend shall change because we will make Tajikistan sound at every corner of the world!!!!

  18. pulat

    mother fuckers , you should read history of central asia, it is your problem if you dont know , im glad to terorist fuck you all and will for this kind of attitude.

  19. L.M.

    A pochemu oni dolzhny znat’ Tajikistan? Bednaya, malen’kaya strana. Izvestnih pisateley net, sportsmenov net, turizma net. S chego lyudi dolzhny znat’ eto gosudarstvo-karlik?

  20. Safar

    It’s because they don’t have OIL.

  21. May be I will repeat once again what was already mentioned above, but people when you see something unknown to you, do not be annoyed and immediately use negative words. If you are so smart and educated or even not that much educated just simply Google things and you may get so much information that you’ve never had in your life! Do not put such a stupid Articles or comments before you do some researches yourself! It is so shameful first of all to the author that his words totally fall down the reputation of the UN agency working in the Country. I bet that Mr.Sodikov is far from his Country now and that’s why he doesn’t care about his Country and its reputation that’s why he put such a shameful Article here to make fun of his own Country! It very pity that working in such a strong Agency you could not learn some strong and positive sides of it and could not become one of the patriots of your Country! Your behavior and thinking way is more shameful for the Country rather then others not knowing your Country! It was your right to represent your nations and Country in the best way!

    • Dear Manizha, you are right in saying that I am very far from my country at the moment. But I don’t really understand why you find fault with me writing this article. If you think that the article is shaming Tajikistan, you should reread it. If I am shaming anyone at all, then the target is those people who posted the tweets the article is featuring. Please spend some time to reread the piece. I hope you will understand that there is nothing “unpatriotic” in it.

  22. Malika

    Most of Americans are that stupid that don’t know how many states are in the USA, or would never answer what is the capital of Brazil. So it’s not a surprise that they don’t know countries of former Soviet Union.

  23. Наталья

    Зачем бестолочам что-то объяснять? Не тратьте время…узкий ум это диагноз.

  24. Lovin Tajiks from the Pamir to Khojand

    Why all the hate and assertions about other countries and the “West”? Do you understand the goals of the Olympics … competition not division. No one can know everything. It may have been long enough to know these countries since their independence but that information won’t be on everyone’s radars.

  25. muyass

    I see most of you are very poor in Geography…. Shame on you!!!. At least do you know Pamir? Pamir Mountains?

  26. Pingback: Iran sends warships to Atlantic, seeks investment in anticipation of easing sanctions | Steppe Dispatches

  27. Planet

    Stupid Author and stupids comments of twitters. I feel sorry for you all, you don’t know nothing from geography and history. I advise to you to open some books, also some maps and wikipedia. If you so stupid, we can’t help you. So its better for you kill yourself head against the wall. You show to everybody how you are so stupid and the guys twitter. How the world keep such peoples. Our poor planet

  28. Shavkat

    Ignorant West… In my Tajik school by age 10 I knew every single country exist back then… Stupid, fat, narrow minded degenerates. When Tajik philosophers were writing their books Europeans were still sitting in trees catching animals for food.

  29. JK

    I understand that many people may be bad in geography. I know that an average American may see nothing in his life except his state and 1000 words to explain its needs. Same with Europeans who are far from being well educated. But I do not understand why these fools can actually joke on subject like this? If these are people who should know about my country…I would rather vote for Tajikistan being not known by this bunch of stupid and measurable creatures. Let them live their measurable virtual lives.
    And by the way Alexander…. being part of UN…. are you proud that you did something for raising awareness of people? I for instance do it every day of my life in Russia.
    And why the hell you make conclusions like this: “Therefore, I understand why Tajikistan is sending a handful of athletes to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Although these athletes don’t have a slightest chance of winning medals, they are sent to Sochi precisely to “put Tajikistan on a map”?
    Our history is way beyond Europe and US. So let them all go hit their heads against the UN wall in NY…where by the way is our famous poets poem is written.

    • JK, thanks for your comment. I think I’ve done my share of awareness raising. This was an important part of my job there. And I still do a lot of awareness raising by writing about Tajikistan.

      To your Q: I was trying to say that one of the reasons that countries send athletes to international sporting competitions is to demonstrate to the rest of the world that they exist. It is a public relations thing as well as a sports thing.

      Btw, when people read the verses of “our famous poet” at UN, few of them think of Tajikistan. Most of them think of Iran.

  30. You Americans know only how to play X-box and how to log in to your Facebook/Twitter account. That’s it!

    Well, this article doesn’t surprise me at all. I used to be an exchange student in the US and studied in US high school. Most of American know nothing about their own country (history, geography, etc). Some American even think that New York, Florida or California are countries but not states. I still remember that moment when our teacher in US high school asked “Paris is a capital city of which country?” some students were answering New York, and some were answering California and Florida. What a Shame!!!

    And YES Tajikistan exists and Tajikistan is not a made up country. You guys are laughing because USA has more athletics than Tajikistan? US is almost 70 times larger than Tajikistan. US population is almost 40 times bigger than Tajikistan’s population. Tajikistan is a small country with 8 million population and gained independence in 1991. I know some countries that got their independence 30-40 years earlier than Tajikistan but still most of them couldn’t make it to the Winter Olympics. So this means we are in progress even if our crew is 3 in Winter Olympics.

    Not only Americans have lack of geography but people from other developed countries have the same problem as well. Two weeks ago I was in Lisbon, Portugal and I met a girl there, she works in non-governmental organization. I told her I study in Czech Republic, she had no idea where Czech Republic is. At first she taught Czech Republic is a city, because she said “is it a small city?”. So, I tried to show a European girl where European developed country (Czech Republic) is located on the map. I mean come on guys, Czech Republic is in the center of Europe, and its one of the most developed countries of Europe but still not many European people know about it.

    Those people who never heard of Tajikistan, I am 100% sure that most of them didn’t also know about Sochi before Winter Olympics.

  31. Так и есть. Когда на западе тебя спрашивают откуда ты, говоришь “Tajikistan”, а они делают такое лицо, как будто ты произносишь какое-то заклятие из фильма “Гарри Поттер”.

    Да и в России, многие сразу отвечают: “А, из Ташкента?”…

  32. Louise A.

    You guys are all weird, in a serious way. Before I clicked on a tweet link to this blog, I had no idea what “Tajikistan” meant and whether it was a real word. I then googled the country. It’s a fucking small country in the middle of nowhere. It is not famous for anything. It is poor as hell. Do you seriously think that people in other countries should learn about the country that means nothing? Come on, guys, don’t take offence, but until you change your country, it is going to remain a fucking nothing.

  33. Time will come when the entire world will know who we are

  34. I’m making a film about a boy name Tajik, so already a lot of people around me have heard of Tajikistan who didn’t know about the country before. In fact, about 95% of the people I’ve spoken with about the film have never heard of Tajikistan. https://www.facebook.com/EarthMetal

  35. Pingback: “Τι στο καλό είναι το Τατζικιστάν; Γιατί υπάρχει;” · Global Voices στα Ελληνικά

  36. PamirBoy

    Thank you Alexander for the post. I see shallowness of some of my country fellows as with raising up this issue you did much more for Tajikistan than any other person commented here did (including myself). We all boast with our great ancestors who were good in medicine, poetry,philosophy etc, and never move a finger ourselves to do something worthy to introduce Tajikistan to the world. One of our Tajik poet- philosophers says “live your life so that when talking of you people would not refer to you as Son of Someone but directly refer to Your own name”, meaning do something for which you will be recognized not for something your farther did. But this is not their fault as the state propaganda has blinded most of our people and they repeat what they hear on TV. Most of talented people who really achieved something and can do more are now in disgrace and forced out of country and those who remain are not allowed to speak and create. And we all get offence when someone tells truth about us. Many of our people have “resentful psychology” I would say. But the sooner we accept the truth about us the better. When you say about Olympics I agree this is one way of introducing Tajikistan to the world. Our only skier did not even finish right but that is ok, he at list did something and qualified for participation in Olympics and this is because of him now so many people started asking “what is Tajikistan?” and now they know what it is as I am sure they googled it after and they may come to visit us and take back stories to tell the world about our beautiful country.
    Louise is slightly rude but she says truth again. And of course this does not mean that I am all for West and I like American “peace-building” and “democracy” promotion. But again this is all done by politicians and their lobbies who control power and ordinary American and European people are also all blinded by their government and mass media (most of Americans for example speak English or Spanish only and never watch/read any other media except American to get a balanced judgement about events in the world, whereas we, Tajiks, can read Russian, Persian and English media to be more objective since everyone has its own truth firstly and secondly truth lies somewhere in between). I happen to talk to many American friends and they truly believe they are doing best for the world for promotion of democracy justifying all those killings in the world and not taking the real facts (like absence of WMD in Iraq etc. and than only apologize for killing millions and think this is sufficient) and if tomorrow government says they want to build piece somewhere else overwhelming majority in their countries will support it again.
    Well, I got too much into politics but the truth is that not all Americans and Tajiks are well educated and we only have to be the best skiers, best poets, best artists, best singers to introduce our country to the world as an ordinary Tajik, European or American may be interested in one of those and may get interested in our countries when he/she hears about such a brilliant skier, poet, artist, singer etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s