Portrait of a Wakhi man
|Regions with significant populations|
|Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia|
|Ismaili Islam, Ethnic religion|
The Wakhi people, or Khik (called Guhjali in upper Hunza, Pakistan), are an ethnic group in the Wakhan of today's Badakhshan region located in northeastern Afghanistan and southeastern Tajikistan. They also live in adjacent areas of Tajikistan and Xinjiang and in Pakistan (in Chitral District and Gojal). They speak the Wakhi language.
Population and demographics
A very rough estimate puts the population of Wakhis between 70,000-100,000. The population is divided among four different countries: Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Xinjiang in north-western China. In China the Wakhi are officially recognized as "Tajiks", in Afghanistan they are officially called "Pamiris", while in Tajikistan Wakhi are recognized by the state as Tajiks but also self-identify as Pamiris and in Pakistan they refer to themselves as "Pamiris" and Guhjali. The major religions of Wakhis are Nizari Ismaili Shia Muslim, being followers of the Aga Khan and Ethnic religions.
Wakhi Cultural Association
In Pakistan, the central organization of Wakhis is the Wakhi Tajik Culture Association Pakistan (WCA), an organization that is working with the Pakistani Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Lok Virsa Pakistan. The WCA aims to preserve the Wakhi language and culture and to record its poetry and music. The WCA has arranged more than twenty programmes since 1984, including cultural shows, musical nights, large-scale musical festivals with the collaboration of Lok Virsa Pakistan, Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP), and Pakistan Television. In 2000, the WCA won a "Best Programme" organizer award in the Silk Road Festival from the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.
A computerized codification of Wakhi script has been released. It is hoped that this will help researchers record and document Wakhi poetry, literature and history.
- Distribution of Wakhi Ethnic Group on Gojal.net
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- Wakhi Tajik Culture Association website
- "Gojal Valley (Upper Hunza)"
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- Photos From Afghanistan: Natural Beauty, Not War - slideshow by NPR