BACKGROUND: Tajikistan is the poorest former Soviet republic, partly because of its landlocked geography, located between China, Russia and Iran. The majority of the population is younger than 30, and the country lacks basic infrastructure. General corruption and the opium trade compound its difficulties.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Most Tajiks are Sunni Muslim.
PERSECUTOR: Christian converts from Islam are persecuted by family members, and the government harasses unregistered churches.