Children gathering water in rural, mountainous Tajikistan

FLEX Students

All students from Tajikistan are Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program scholarship winners. Click here to learn more about the FLEX Program.

Country Information

The Soviet Union supported opera, symphony orchestras, literature, painting, and sculpture, all of which attracted support from the public. Tajikistan claims ancient poets Omar Khayyám and Alisher Navoi as part of its literary tradition. FirdowsÄ« is appreciated for creating epic poetry as a way to educate the people. 90% of Tajikistan is covered by mountains.

Lifestyle and Family

People are distinguished more by region than by class. People in the cities wear Western fashions, while villagers dress more traditionally. Hospitality, humility, and respect are considered essential for successful interaction in the culture. The elderly are always given the place of honor. A man must never enter a home where there are only women, and a girl must never be left alone with a boy. At large social gatherings, men and women often are separated. Everyone stands when another guest enters. When shaking hands in greeting, it is a demonstration of good manners and respect to place the left hand over the heart and bow slightly.

Families are patriarchal and women are expected to take care of the home and their husband. Married couples are usually formed by a match maker and the bride must stay at her fiancées home with his parents before the ceremony to prove she will be provided for. Traditionally, the youngest son, with his wife and children, stays with his parents. The most important qualities of a good child are respect for the elderly and obedience to parental authority.

Teen Life and Sports

The majority of the population is in poverty and therefore 75% of students that graduate from middle school do not go on to higher education. It is difficult to find employment.


With over 80% of the population living below the poverty line, food is scarce. A basic breakfast consists of tea and bread. A wealthy family may eat butter and jam and perhaps eggs or porridge. Soup often is served for dinner; it may contain a soup bone with meat, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Osh, a rice dish made with carrots, onions and meat, is served two or three times a week. At other times pasta, meat- and onion-filled pastries, and tomato and cucumber salads may be served. All meals are accompanied with large rounds of flat bread. Pork is never eaten. Bread may not be placed upside down; the crumbs are collected and disposed of ceremoniously. Tea is served to the host first to show that it is safe to drink. Islamic law forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but this prohibition often is ignored.

Language and Religion

Tajik is the official state language but Russian is used for inter ethnic communication. The majority of the population is Muslim.

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