The town was established in 1952 in Tajik SSR. In Soviet time it had a population of 8,400 (1991), most people worked in coal-mining industry. There were several factories, Palace of Culture, a stadium, a library, a movie theater, a park, etc. The town was supplied by Moscow, wages of local people were higher than in many other Tajik towns, and housing there was considered prestigious by many citizens of the USSR.
After the breakup of the USSR in 1991, most of the coal mines, factories, culture institutions were closed and the town lost about a half of its population.
As of 2003, the town, with many buildings went to ruins, looked as if there were bombings, water supply system was almost broken, water was supplied to people for about ten minutes a day, a three room flat there cost about 150 rubles (5 USD).
- Shurab is the birthplace of the decorated gold medal Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim.
Shurab was the terminus of a branch railway of the former Soviet Railways system.
- Frantz, Douglas, "Rich Slice of Soviet Asia, Left to a Lonely Despair", The New York Times, December 19, 2000
- * (Russian) Rotar, Igor, "Living shadows ghost town: Living in the Russian Tajik Shurab adrift", Novye Izvestia, August 4, 2003 (archived 2007)
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