HISTORY OF DUSHANBE
Archaeological investigations have shown that a settlement existed in the present-day city area as early as the 5th century BC. The city was first mentioned in a document from 1676, which refers to “Kasabai Dushanbe”. The name means “Monday” in Persian and refers to the city’s famous weekly market, which was always held on Mondays. Apart from that, the city remained relatively insignificant and still had only about 10,000 inhabitants towards the end of the 19th century.
In 1920, the Emir of Bukhara, who had fled his capital before the onslaught of the Bolsheviks, made Dushanbe his official residence. In 1921, however, he had to flee from the Red Army to Afghanistan. Dushanbe was subsequently proclaimed the capital of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic and renamed Stalinabad. The city was given preference over larger towns because it was more centrally located and was already a meeting place for Tajiks due to the Monday market.
In the following years, the city developed rapidly. Tens of thousands of ethnic Tajiks moved in from Bukhara and Samarkand after these cities became part of the Uzbek SSR. The city became a centre for cotton and silk production. In the 1930s, it was connected to the Trans-Caspian Railway.
During the Second World War, Stalinabad became a centre for evacuees from the front. Within a short period, this led to a population increase of about 100,000 people and the construction of 17 hospitals.
On 10 November 1961, the city was renamed Dushanbe again in the course of de-Stalinisation. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dushanbe became the capital of independent Tajikistan on 9 September????.
The city lies at about 850 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Varzob and Kofarnihon rivers. The weather is dominated by a mainly Mediterranean, partly continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold, humid winters. The record temperatures measured so far are 45 degrees in summer and -26.6 degrees in winter.
With USD 1.4 billion, Dushanbe is responsible for more than one-fifth of the entire national gross domestic product. The city benefits from a comparatively well-developed infrastructure with an international airport and the country’s most important railway station. The construction of an above-ground metro is also planned for the coming years, with the first line scheduled for completion in 2040. In 2020, Dushanbe received USD 8 million to renovate the trolley bus system. Currently, 7 lines carry about 11 million passengers annually.
Unlike, for example, the Uzbek capital Tashkent, where countless ethnic groups live, Dushanbe is mainly inhabited by ethnic Tajiks. As late as 1959, ethnic Russians (47.8%) together with ethnic Ukrainians (4.4%) made up the majority of the city’s population. This changed mainly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the subsequent Tajik civil war. At that time, about 300,000 Russians left the country; Dushanbe lost more than a third of its population during these years.
Dushanbe offers some sights, mainly museums, but also, among other things, the second-highest flagpole in the world. However, these sites are spread throughout the city, so it is advisable to have a vehicle with a driver for sightseeing.
Air connections: There are flights from the international airport to various destinations in Central Asia (Tashkent, Bishkek, Almaty) and the Russian Federation (including Moscow and St. Petersburg). There are also connections to Frankfurt, Istanbul, Dubai and Delhi. There is a single domestic connection to Khujand in the north of the country.
Railway connections: Twice a week there are connections to Termez in Uzbekistan, from where there are connections to the other Uzbek cities. For domestic passenger transport, the railway does not play a major role in Tajikistan. Twice a week there is a connection via Bokhtar to Kulob. A connection to Khujand is offered irregularly.