Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

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Coordinates: 38°0′N 73°0′E / 38.000°N 73.000°E / 38.000; 73.000

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

Tajik: Вилояти Мухтори Кӯҳистони Бадахшон
Lake Zorkul
Lake Zorkul
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
Country Tajikistan
 • GovernorYodgor Fayzov
 • Total64,200 km2 (24,800 sq mi)
 • Total226,900
 • Density3.5/km2 (9.2/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeTJ-GB
HDI (2017)0.671[1]
Official languages
Map of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

The Kuhistani Badakhshan Autonomous Region (Tajik: Вилояти Мухтори Кӯҳистони Бадахшон, Viloyati Mukhtori Kŭhistoni Badakhshon; also known as Gorno-Badakhshan, /ˈɡɔːrn bədɑːkˈʃɑːn, -dɑːx-/, after Russian: Горно-Бадахшанская автономная область, romanizedGorno-Badakhshanskaya avtonomnaya oblast', abbrev. GBAO) is an autonomous region in eastern Tajikistan, in the Pamir Mountains, which makes up 45% of the land area of the country, but only 3% of its population.[3]


Prior to 1895, the area of today's Gorno-Badakhshan A.R. consisted of several semi-self governing statelets, including Darwaz, Shughnun-Rushan and Wakhan, who ruled over territories that today are part of Gorno-Badakhshan A.R. in Tajikistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The territory was claimed by the Chinese and Russian empires and the Emirate of Afghanistan. The Qing rulers of China claimed control of the entire Pamir Mountains,[4] but Qing military units only controlled the passes just east of Tashkurgan.[citation needed] In the 1890s, the Chinese, Russian and Afghan governments signed a series of agreements that divided Badakhshan, but the Chinese continued to contest these borders, until it signed a 2002 agreement with the government of Tajikistan.[5]

Gorno-Badakhshan was created in January 1925. It was attached to the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic, after the republic's creation in 1929, as the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (an autonomous oblast of the Soviet Union). During the 1950s, the native inhabitants of Gorno-Badakhshan, including many ethnic Pamiris, were forcibly relocated to southwestern Tajikistan. Gorno-Badakhshan absorbed some of the territory of the Gharm Oblast when that territory was dissolved in 1955.

When the civil war broke out in Tajikistan in 1992, the local government in Gorno-Badakhshan declared independence from the Republic of Tajikistan. During the civil war, many Pamiris were targeted for killing by rival groups and Gorno-Badakhshan became a bastion for the opposition. Later the Gorno-Badakhshan government backed down from its calls for independence. Gorno-Badakhshan remains an autonomous region within Tajikistan.[6][7] In 2011, Tajikistan ratified a 1999 deal to cede 1,000 km2 (390 sq mi) of land in the Pamir Mountains to the People's Republic of China, ending a 130-year dispute and the relinquishing of China's claims to over 28,000 km2 (11,000 sq mi) of Tajikistani territory.[8][9]

In 2012, the region saw a series of clashes between the Tajik military and militants loyal to former warlord Tolib Ayombekov after the latter was accused of murdering a Tajik general.[10] Ethnic tensions were heightened further in 2018 and 2020 with the arrests of ethnic Pamiris in the region.[11]

Districts and geography[edit]

Darvoz District is the western 'beak' of the province. West-central Gorno-Badakhshan is mostly a series of east–west mountain ranges separated by valleys of rivers that flow into the Panj River. The districts correspond the river valleys. Murghob District occupies the eastern half of the province and is mostly a desolate plateau with high mountains on the west.

GBAO covers all the eastern part of the country and borders the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China in the east, the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan in the south, and Osh Region of Kyrgyzstan in the north. Within Tajikistan the region's western border is with the Districts of Republican Subordination (DRP) and the tip of its south-western finger (Darvoz District) borders on Khatlon Region. The highest mountains are in the Pamirs (ancient Mount Imeon), which is known as the roof of the world, and three of the five 7,000 meter summits in formerly Soviet Central Asia are located here, including Ismoil Somoni Peak (formerly Communism Peak, and, before that, Stalin Peak; 7,495 m), Ibn Sina Peak (formerly Lenin Peak, and still known by that name on its Kyrgyz flank; 7,134 m), on the border with Kyrgyzstan, and Peak Korzhenevskaya (7,105 m).


The population of GBAO slightly declined from 206,004 to 205,949 between the censuses in 2000 and 2010. The population as of 2019 is estimated at 226,900.[12] According to the State Statistical Committee of Tajikistan, the main ethnic group in GBAO are Pamiris.[13] The remainder of the population is ethnic Kyrgyz and other nationalities. The largest city in GBAO is Khorugh, population 30,300 (2019 est.);[3] the second largest is Murghab, with about 4,000 residents.

West-Central Gorno-Badakhshan
Mountain Valley District
Darvoz Range
Vanj River Vanj District
Sarikol Range
Murghob District
Vanj Range
Yazgulyam River
Yazgulem Range
Bartang River Rushon District
Rushan Range
Gunt River Shughnon District
Shughon Range
Shakhdara River Roshtqal'a District
Shakhdara Range
Panj River Ishkoshim District
Afghanistan Amu Darya

GBAO is home to a number of distinct languages and dialects of the Pamir languages group. The Pamiri language speakers represented in Gorno-Badakshan are speakers of Shughni, Rushani, Wakhi, Ishkashimi, Sarikoli, Bartangi, Khufi, Yazgulyam, and Oroshani. Vanji, formerly spoken in the Vanj River valley, became extinct in the 19th century. There is a sizable population of Kyrgyz speakers in the Murghab district. Russian and Tajik are also widely spoken throughout GBAO. The majority religion in GBAO is Ismaili Shi'ite and adherence to the Aga Khan is widespread.[14]


Only two easily navigable roads connect GBAO to the outside world, Khorog-Osh and Khorog-Dushanbe, both of which are segments of the Pamir Highway. A third road from Khorog to Tashkurgan in China through the Kulma Pass is very rough. Gorno-Badakhshan is separated from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan by the narrow, but nearly impassable, Wakhan Corridor. Another road leads from Khorog into the Wakhan and across the Afghan border. Khorog Airport is serviced by Tajik Air and as of 2014 had regularly scheduled flights to Dushanbe.


In 2019, the European Union and Germany committed 37 million Euros in coordination with the Government of Tajikistan to finance the construction of an 11 MW run-of-the-river hydro power plant along the Shokhdara river. The project is intended to also supply energy to areas of Badakhshan in Afghanistan.[15]


Khorugh is the location of highest altitude where bandy has been played.[16]

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ "КОНСТИТУЦИЯ РЕСПУБЛИКИ ТАДЖИКИСТАН". prokuratura.tj. Parliament of Tajikistan. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b Population of the Republic of Tajikistan as of 1 January 2008, State Statistical Committee, Dushanbe, 2008 (in Russian)
  4. ^ 董丛林. 中国近代史课程教案. Hebei Normal University (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  5. ^ "China's Territorial and Boundary Affairs". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  6. ^ Suhrobsho Davlatshoev (2006). "The Formation and Consolidation of Pamiri Ethnic Identity in Tajikistan. Dissertation" (PDF). School of Social Sciences of Middle East Technical University, Turkey (M.S. thesis). Retrieved 25 August 2006.
  7. ^ "Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) :: Regions of Tajikistan". OrexCA.com. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Tajikistan cedes land to China". BBC News. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ "China's area increases by 1000 sq km". The Times of India. 12 January 2011. Archived from the original on 16 January 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Tajikistan clashes: 'Many dead' in Gorno-Badakhshan". BBC News. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Tajikistan: Arrests spark fresh unrest in Pamirs". bne IntelliNews. bne IntelliNews Emerging Markets Direct company. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  12. ^ Agency on Statistics
  13. ^ Population census of Tajikistan, 2000 Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine on demoscope.ru (in Russian)
  14. ^ Feygin, Mark (1998). Чужая война (in Russian). Novy Mir. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  15. ^ "EU Commits 20 Million Euros for HPP Construction in Tajikistan". Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  16. ^ Фоминых, Борис (15 January 2011). Опубликован календарь матчей турнира по хоккею с мячом Азиады-2011 (in Russian). Bandynet. Retrieved 21 February 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]