Tajiks (who refer to themselves as Tojiks) make up the majority of the population of the Republic of Tajikistan. According to the 2000 census, the population of Tajikistan is more than 6,100,000. Of this 68.8% are Tajik, 24.9% uzbek , 3% Russian, 3.3% other nationalities. Many tajiks live permanently outside Tajikistan in countries such as Uzbekistan (more than 1 million.), Afghanistan (approximately 4-5 million.), Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (100,000), China (30.000 in Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region), the Russian Federation, Iran, and Pakistan.
Tajiks are ethnically very diverse. In the Yaghnob valley and Zarafshon valley villages live the Yaghnobi, direct descendants of the ancient Sogdians, who speak the language their ancestors used more than 10,000 years ago. The Pamiri-Tajiks, living in the present-day Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, are both ethnically and linguistically differ from the Tajiks living in lowlands of the country. Also most of Pamiri are followers of Ismailism - a major branch of the Shi'a Islam-whereas most of the remainder of the Muslim population of the country follows Sunni Islam.
Tajikistan has a high birth rate and rapid population growth. In the last 30 years the population has more than doubled. Forty -five percent of the population is now under 15 years of age. About 74% of the total population lives in rural areas.
The majority live in villages, in clay and wooden houses usually located on or near the bank of a river or mountain reservoir.
Tajikistan is the least urbanized country of all the former Soviet republics. Unregulated population growth created many socio-economic and environmental problems. There is insufficient suitable land to build new houses, not to mention industrial or social facilities. The number of people moving back home to mountainous areas is growing.
In the 1930-40s, much of the population was resettled into valleys to develop land for cotton-growing. Many people are now returning to their mountain villages, aiming to restore their former houses and follow a more traditional way of life. Farming and cattle breeding are the main activities of the rural population.
Most people in Tajikistan marry relatively early. Ninety percent of women marry before they reach 29, and 94% of men marry before they are 39. Rural families typically have many children (usually 6-8) born very close together.
More than 80% of the population is Muslim. People prefer a settled life, focused upon family values, and are loyal to their native land and home. They are hard-working, hospitable, and kind-hearted by nature, and respect existing customs and traditions. In rural areas, most family members tend to live very close to each other in large communities, including more distant relatives.