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

Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region
Name transcription(s)
 • TajikВилояти Мухтори Кӯҳистони Бадахшон
 • RussianГорно-Бадахшанская автономная область
The western end of Lake Zorkul
The western end of Lake Zorkul
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
 • ChairmanAlisher Khudoyberdi
 • 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]

Gorno-Badakhshan,[n 1] officially the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region,[n 2] is an autonomous region in eastern Tajikistan, in the Pamir Mountains. It makes up nearly forty-five percent of the country's land area, but only two percent of its population.[3]


The official English name of the autonomous region is the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region.[4][5] The name "Badakhshan" (Russian: Бадахшан, romanizedBadakhshan; Tajik: Бадахшон, romanizedBadaxşon) is derived from the Sasanian title bēdaxš or badaxš.[6] "Gorno-Badakhshan" literally means "mountainous Badakhshan" and is derived from the Russian name of the autonomous region, Gorno-Badakhshanskaya avtonomnaya oblast'. The Russian abbreviation "GBAO" is also commonly used in English-language publications by national and international bodies such as the government of Tajikistan and the United Nations.[7]


Prior to 1895, several semi-self governing statelets, including Darwaz, Shughnun-Rushan and Wakhan, ruled over the territories that are today a part of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in Tajikistan and Badakhshan Province in Afghanistan. The territory was claimed by the Chinese and Russian empires, as well as the Emirate of Afghanistan. The Chinese claimed control over the entire Pamir Mountains.[8]

In the 1890s, the Chinese, Russian, and Afghan governments signed a series of agreements which divided Badakhshan, but China nonetheless continued to contest these borders.[9]

The Soviet government established Gorno-Badakhshan in January 1925 as an autonomous republic, and later in 1929 as an autonomous oblast, of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR). During the 1950s, the native inhabitants of Gorno-Badakhshan, mostly 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 Tajik Civil War broke out in 1992, the local government in Gorno-Badakhshan declared independence from Tajikistan. During the civil war, many Pamiris were targeted for killings by rival groups[who?] and Gorno-Badakhshan became a bastion of the opposition.[citation needed] The Gorno-Badakhshan government later backed down from its calls for independence.[10][11]

In 2011, Tajikistan ratified a 1999 treaty to cede 1,000 km2 (390 sq mi) of land in the Pamir Mountains to the People's Republic of China (PRC), ending a 130-year-old border dispute and China's claims to over 28,000 km2 (11,000 sq mi) of Tajik territory.[12] However, the government of the Republic of China (ROC) based in Taipei does not recognize this treaty and continues to claim the territory, as reflected in its official maps.[13]

A number of violent clashes and demonstrations have occurred in the region since the end of the civil war, with major incidences of civil unrest in 2012, 2014, 2018, 2021, and 2022.[14] Clashes erupted on 24 July 2012 between the Tajik military and militants loyal to the former warlord Tolib Ayombekov, after Ayombekov was accused of murdering a Tajik general.[15] On 18 May 2022, around 200 anti-government demonstrators blocked a road in Rushon which led to the regional capital Khorugh. Some of the demonstrators later ambushed a security convoy on the same road, resulting in the deaths of eight militants and one officer, the injuries of 13 officers, and the arrests of 70 assailants. The Tajik interior ministry stated that the attack was an attempt to "destabilise the social and political situation" in the region.[16]

Districts and geography[edit]

Map of Gorno-Badakhshan and surrounding territories

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.

The districts of Gorno-Badakhshan are:

Gorno-Badakhshan covers the entire eastern part of Tajikistan and borders China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the east, Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province to the south, and Kyrgyzstan's Osh Region to the north. Within Tajikistan, Gorno-Badakhshan's western border is with the Districts of Republican Subordination (DRP) and the tip of its southwestern finger (Darvoz District) borders Khatlon Region. The highest elevations in the region are in the Pamir Mountains (notably Mount Imeon), nicknamed "the roof of the world" by locals. Three of the five 7,000 meter summits in 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), and Peak Korzhenevskaya (7,105 m).


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1979 126,783—    
1989 160,860+2.41%
1999 206,004+2.50%
2010 205,949−0.00%
2020 228,900+1.06%
Source: Citypopulation[17]

The population of Gorno-Badakhshan 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.[18] According to the State Statistical Committee of Tajikistan, the main ethnic group in Gorno-Badakhshan are Pamiris.[19] The remainder of the population is ethnic Kyrgyz and other nationalities. The largest city in Gorno-Badakhshan is Khorugh, with a population of 30,300 (2019 est.);[3] Murghab is the second largest, with about 4,000 residents.

Gorno-Badakhshan 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 Gorno-Badakhshan. The majority religion in Gorno-Badakhshan is Ismaili Shi'ite and adherence to the Aga Khan is widespread.[20]


Soviet era[edit]

The First Secretary of the Gorno–Badakhshan Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan was the highest position in the region during the Soviet era.

List of first secretaries[edit]

Name Term start Tern end
[data unknown/missing] 1925 1928
Konstantin Moiseyenko 1928 1930
Abdul Zennatshayev 1930 1934
[data unknown/missing] 1934 1939
Andrey Kuznetsov 1939 1941
Nikolay Rogatkin 1941 1945
Kurbonsho Gadoliyev 1945 1949
Ismail Burkhanov 1950? 1951
Rakhimbobo Tursunov 1951 1956
Nadzhmiddin Abdullayev 1956 1961
Grizi Dzhavov 1961 1963
Moyensho Nazarshoyev July 1963 April 1970
Khushkadam Davlyatkadamov April 1970 1978
Aloviddin Babayev 1978 1982
Mukhitdin Zairov June 1982 11 April 1987
Soibnazar Beknazarov 11 April 1987 August 1991

Since independence[edit]

The Chairman of the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region is the head of the regional government. They are appointed by the President of Tajikistan.

List of chairmen[edit]

Name Term start Term end
Alimamad Niyozmamadov December 1994 25 November 2006
Kadyr Kasim[n 3] 25 November 2006 19 November 2013
Shodikhon Jamshedov 19 November 2013 2018
Yodgor Fayzov 2018 5 November 2021
Alisher Khudoyberdi 5 November 2021 incumbent


Only two easily navigable roads connect Gorno-Badakhshan to the outside world, Khorugh–Osh and Khorugh–Dushanbe, both of which are segments of the Pamir Highway. A third road from Khorugh to Tashkurgan in China through the Kulma Pass is very rough. Gorno-Badakhshan is separated from the Pakistani territories of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan by the narrow, but nearly impassable, Wakhan Corridor. Another road leads from Khorugh to Wakhan and across the Afghan border.


In 2019, the European Union and Germany, in coordination with Tajikistan, committed 37 million euros 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 Badakhshan, Afghanistan.[21]


Khorugh is the highest location where bandy is played.[22]

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ /ˈɡɔːrn bəˈdɑːkʃɑːn/ (listen);[2] lit.'mountainous Badakhshan' in Russian
  2. ^
    • Tajik: Вилояти Мухтори Кӯҳистони Бадахшон, romanizedViloyati Mukhtori Kŭhistoni Badakhshon, abbr. ВМКБ / VMKB
    • Russian: Горно-Бадахшанская автономная область, romanizedGorno-Badakhshanskaya avtonomnaya oblast', abbr. ГБАО / GBAO
  3. ^ Acting chairman until 12 February 2007


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Definition of 'Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region'". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b Population of the Republic of Tajikistan as of 1 January 2008, State Statistical Committee, Dushanbe, 2008 (in Russian)
  4. ^ "Constitution (Basic Law) of the Republic of Tajikistan, Article 7". Tajikistan shall consist of the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region, regions, towns, districts, settlements, and villages.
  5. ^ "Tajikistan–China state boundary". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan. Retrieved 20 September 2022. The Republic of Tajikistan in the east borders with the People's Republic of China. ... It goes through the highlands along the Pamir mountain range in the Badakhshan Mountainous Autonomous Region.
  6. ^ W. Eilers, "BADAḴŠĀN iii. The name Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine", Encyclopædia Iranica, 15 December 1988.
  7. ^ "Tajikistan: UN experts sound alarm about tensions in GBAO, urge protection of Pamiri minority". OHCHR. 20 April 2022.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "China's Territorial and Boundary Affairs". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China. 30 June 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) :: Regions of Tajikistan". OrexCA.com. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Tajikistan cedes land to China". BBC News. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  13. ^ Horton, Chris (8 July 2019). "Taiwan's Status Is a Geopolitical Absurdity". The Atlantic.
  14. ^ Roof-top Info (2022). "What is happening in Tajikistan? Background information on the situation in Khorugh" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Tajikistan clashes: 'Many dead' in Gorno-Badakhshan". BBC News. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Nine killed in clash in eastern Tajikistan". Reuters. 18 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Tajikistan: Provinces". www.citypopulation.de.
  18. ^ "Socio-demographic sector / Agency on statistics under President of the Republic of Tajikistan". www.stat.tj.
  19. ^ Population census of Tajikistan, 2000 Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine on demoscope.ru (in Russian)
  20. ^ Feygin, Mark (1998). Чужая война (in Russian). Novy Mir. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  21. ^ "EU Commits 20 Million Euros for HPP Construction in Tajikistan". Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  22. ^ 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]