Having recovered from a 1992-97 civil war that killed as many as 100,000 people, Tajikistan presents a stark contrast to neighboring Uzbekistan, which exploded last month in a paroxysm of suicide bombings and other violence.
Its stability bolstered by the presence of Russian border guards and some 14,000 Russian troops.
The civil war in this Wisconsin-sized country of 6 million was so traumatic that Tajiks appear determined not to let it happen again, said U.S. Ambassador Richard Hoagland.
Tajikistan nonetheless faces severe problems that can undermine stability.
It is one of the world’s poorest countries, its economy based on cotton, foreign aid and a lone aluminum plant. It is exposed to corruption by being one of the main transit corridors for opium and heroin from neighboring Afghanistan.
The border guards, mostly Tajiks under Russian officers, can’t choke off the flow and the frontier could be just as porous for militants from Afghanistan.