Tajiks (Persian: تاجيک Tājīk) are a Persian-speaking people who are mostly found in what is now Tajikistan, including in parts of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and China. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, some Tajik refugees escaped to live in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. Most Tajiks are Sunni Muslims, but a few in remote mountain areas follow Shia Islam.
Tajik children from Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan
|c. 18–27 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Uzbekistan||1,420,000 (2012, official)|
other, non-official, scholarly estimates are 8 – 11 million
(varieties of Dari and Tajiki)
Shia Islam minorities
The name Tajik being used for this group of people began in the early 20th century by the Russians. Before that, they were called Sarts. The name Tajik refers to the traditionally sedentary people who speak a form of Persian language called Tajiki in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and who speak today's Dari language in Afghanistan.
It is generally accepted that the origin of the word Tajik is Middle Persian Tāzīk "Arab" (New Persian: Tazi), or an Iranian (Sogdian or Parthian) cognate word. Some Turks of Central Asia adopted a variant of this word, Täžik, to designate the Persian Muslims in the Oxus basin and Khorasan, who were the Turks' rivals.
Historians believe that some Tajiks may be connected to ancient Aryans who lived in the region for thousands of years. They were the heirs and transmitters of the Central Asian sedentary culture that diffused in prehistoric times from the Iranian plateau into an area extending roughly from the Caspian Sea to the borders of China. The Aryans constituted the core of the ancient population of Khwarezm, Sogdiana and Bactria, which formed part of Transoxania. They were included in the empires of Persia and Alexander the Great, and they mixed with later invaders like the Mauryans, Kushans and Hepthalites. Over the course of time, the language that was used by these ancient people eventually gave way to Farsi, a western dialect spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. In the 13th century, Genghis Khan and his Mongol army settled in many of the popular Persian cities after whiping out the Persian population. These Mongols later adopted the Persian language and the religion of Islam. Tajiks usually reject Mongol origin and claim to be ancient Persians but this is difficult to prove.
- Country Factfiles. — Afghanistan, page 153. // Atlas. Fourth Edition. Editors: Ben Hoare, Margaret Parrish. Publisher: Jonathan Metcalf. First published in Great Britain in 2001 by Dorling Kindersley Limited. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2010, 432 pages. ISBN 9781405350396 "Population: 28.1 million
Religions: Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%
Ethnic Mix: Pashtun 38%, Tajik 25%, Hazara 19%, Uzbek, Turkmen, other 18%"
- Richard Foltz (1996). "The Tajiks of Uzbekistan". Central Asian Survey 15 (2): 213–216. doi:10.1080/02634939608400946.
- Karl Cordell, "Ethnicity and Democratisation in the New Europe", Routledge, 1998. p. 201: "Consequently, the number of citizens who regard themselves as Tajiks is difficult to determine. Tajikis within and outside of the republic, Samarkand State University (SamGU) academic and international commentators suggest that there may be between six and seven million Tajiks in Uzbekistan, constituting 30% of the republic's 22 million population, rather than the official figure of 4.7%(Foltz 1996;213; Carlisle 1995:88).
- Lena Jonson (1976) "Tajikistan in the New Central Asia", I.B.Tauris, p. 108: "According to official Uzbek statistics there are slightly over 1 million Tajiks in Uzbekistan or about 3% of the population. The unofficial figure is over 6 million Tajiks. They are concentrated in the Sukhandarya, Samarqand and Bukhara regions."
- "塔吉克族". www.gov.cn. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
- Russian 2010 Census results; see also Ethnic groups in Russia
- This figure only includes Tajiks from Afghanistan. The population of people from Afghanistan the United States is estimated as 80,414 (2005). United States Census Bureau. "US demographic census". Retrieved 2008-01-23. Of this number, approximately 65% are Tajiks according to a group of American researchers (Barbara Robson, Juliene Lipson, Farid Younos, Mariam Mehdi). Robson, Barbara and Lipson, Juliene (2002) "Chapter 5(B)- The People: The Tajiks and Other Dari-Speaking Groups" Archived 2010-01-27 at the Wayback Machine The Afghans – their history and culture Cultural Orientation Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C., OCLC 56081073.
- "Ethnic composition of the population in Kyrgyzstan 1999–2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- This figure only includes Tajiks from Afghanistan. The population of people with descent from Afghanistan in Canada is 48,090 according to Canada's 2006 Census. Tajiks make up an estimated 27% of the population of Afghanistan. The Tajik population in Canada is estimated from these two figures. Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada.
- State statistics committee of Ukraine – National composition of population, 2001 census (Ukrainian)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2002-10-01). "Long-time Tajik refugees return home from Pakistan". UNHCR. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Oxford English Dictionary: Origin of the word "Tajik": from Persian Tājik 'a Persian, someone who is neither an Arab nor a Turk'.
- TAJIK i. THE ETHNONYM: ORIGINS AND APPLICATION, Encyclopædia Iranica, Last Updated: July 20, 2009, www.iranica.com