Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region

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

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

Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region
Вилояти Мухтори Кӯҳистони Бадахшон (Tajik)
Горно-Бадахшанская автономная область (Russian)
Lake Zorkul
Lake Zorkul
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan
 • GovernorAlisher 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]
Official languages
Map of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region


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 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 which divided Badakhshan, but the Chinese continued to contest these borders.[5]

Gorno-Badakhshan was established in January 1925 as an autonomous republic, and later in 1929 as an autonomous oblast, of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic. 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 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 and Gorno-Badakhshan became a bastion of the opposition. The Gorno-Badakhshan government later backed down from its calls for independence, and Gorno-Badakhshan remains an autonomous region within Tajikistan.[6][7]

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 Tajikistani territory.[8] However, the government of the Republic of China (ROC) based in Taipei did not recognize the treaty and continues to claim the territory (among others), as reflected in its official maps.[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] In 2014, 2018, 2021 and 2022, Khorugh was the scene of violent clashes and demonstrations against suspected human rights violations by security forces.[11]

On 18 May 2022, around 200 anti-government demonstrators blocked a road in Rushon which led to Khorugh. Some of the demonstrators later ambush 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.[12]

Districts and geographyEdit

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.[13] According to the State Statistical Committee of Tajikistan, the main ethnic group in GBAO are Pamiris.[14] 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.[15]

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[16]


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.[17]


Khorugh is the location of highest altitude where bandy has been played.[18]

Notable individualsEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Horton, Chris (8 July 2019). "Taiwan's Status Is a Geopolitical Absurdity". The Atlantic.
  10. ^ "Tajikistan clashes: 'Many dead' in Gorno-Badakhshan". BBC News. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  11. ^ Roof-top Info (2022). "What is happening in Tajikistan? Background information on the situation in Khorugh" (PDF). Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Nine killed in clash in eastern Tajikistan". Reuters. 18 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  13. ^ Agency on Statistics
  14. ^ Population census of Tajikistan, 2000 Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine on demoscope.ru (in Russian)
  15. ^ Feygin, Mark (1998). Чужая война (in Russian). Novy Mir. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Tajikistan: Provinces". www.citypopulation.de.
  17. ^ "EU Commits 20 Million Euros for HPP Construction in Tajikistan". Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  18. ^ Фоминых, Борис (15 January 2011). Опубликован календарь матчей турнира по хоккею с мячом Азиады-2011 (in Russian). Bandynet. Retrieved 21 February 2015.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit