The Tajik people came
under Russian rule in the 1860s and 1870s, but Russia
hold on Central Asia weakened following the Revolution of 1917.
Bolshevik control of the area was fiercely contested and not fully
reestablished until 1925. Tajikistan became independent in 1991
following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and it is now in the process
of strengthening its democracy and transitioning to a free market
economy after its 1992-97 civil war. There have been no major security
incidents in recent years, although the country remains the poorest in
the former Soviet sphere. Attention by the international community in
the wake of the war in Afghanistan
brought increased economic development and security assistance, which
could create jobs and increase stability in the long term. Tajikistan
is in the early stages of seeking World Trade Organization membership
and has joined NATO's Partnership for Peace. Tajik is the official
language; Russian is also widely used.