Basic facts about the Pamirs:

Population: approx. 205,000

Surface area: approx. 64,000 square km. (nearly 50% of total surface area of Tajikistan and 1.5 times the size of Switzerland)

Arable land: 240 square km. (0.4% of the total)

The Western Pamirs (Darvaz, Vanj, Rushan, Shughnan - including the regional capital Khorog - Roshtkala and Ishkashim districts, population approx. 190,000) are inhabited by people of Irano-European extraction.

The Eastern Pamirs (Murghab district, population approx. 15,000) are mainly inhabited by people of Kyrgyz (Turkic) extraction, although there is a significant minority in Murghab town originating from the Western Pamirs.

Human settlements between 1,200 and 3,500m

Wikipedia offers excellent general information on the Pamirs:
See also: 

As a co-author, I am of course bound to recommend Tajikistan and the High Pamirs - a Companion and Guide, the second edition of which was published by Odyssey Publications in September 2011. It is still the most complete (especially in relation to the Pamirs) guide devoted exclusively to Tajikistan produced for the international market - see here.

Useful updates to Odyssey book by Huw Thomas - see here.

I would like to take this opportunity of paying a personal tribute to Huw Thomas, co-author of the Odyssey guide, who died in May 2018. He explored the remotest corners of the country and followed with enthusiasm every clue to an interesting piece of history or anecdote. He was never distressed by difficulties on and off the road and maintained throughout his sense of humour. His monument is not only the Odyssey guide but also the superb continuing work of the Aga Khan Health Services in the Pamirs in which he played a major part.

My Bibliography for the Odyssey book can be downloaded here.

Two sample chapters can be downloaded:

The Great Game - Myth or Reality: here.

The Earl of Dunmore - Travel in the Pamirs 1892-93: here.

An excellent overview of the Pamir region can be found in a study by the University of Bern prepared by a group of highly motivated students and local and international consultants under the leadership of Prof. Hans Hurni and Thomas Breu with funding from SDC and support by AKDN (also available in Russian): See also

See also the following:

Information on travel to and in Tajikistan is difficult to obtain and many websites are hopelessly out-of-date. Double check all travel details, including those on this website!

A very good German-language guide to Tajikistan was published by Trescher Verlag in 2010: Tadschikistan - Zwischen Duschanbe und dem Dach der Welt by Sonja Bill.

In May 2013, Bradt Travel Guides published a volume on Tajikistan by Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare, containing some 25 pages on the Pamirs - see Regrettably, Bradt's policy is not to cross-reference "competing" publications - nor do they see fit to mention this website.

The Birth of Tajikistan - National Identity and the Origins of the Republic, a monumental (but short and readable) work by the late Paul Bergne, first UK Ambassador to Tajikistan, was published by I.B. Tauris in 2007.

Tajikistan, by Rafis Abazov in the series "Cultures of the World" published by Marshall Cavendish Benchmark NY, is a useful basic guide.

There are also a few other general travel guides on Central Asia, including:

Central Asia, Bradley Mayhew et al., Lonely Planet – 5th edition 2010

Trekking in Russia and Central Asia, Frith Maier, Mountaineers Books - 2nd edition 1997

Asie Centrale, Patricia Chichmanova et al., Le Petit Futé - 2007

Dima Melnichkov has published an updated version of his superb guidebook Travel through Tajikistan - packed with practical information, it will fit easily into your rucksack - see here. Copies can be ordered here or at the Noor Art Gallery in Dushanbe.

Another useful travel guide is available in Dushanbe, if you can find it: Welcome to Tajikistan published in 2008 in Dushanbe (English, Russian and Tajik editions) by the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, 1/2 Dekhoti Street, Dushanbe. Tel/fax: +992 37 234 53 92 - e-mail osi(at)

Moreover, if you can read Russian, you will find much useful information in:

a) Puteshestvie v stranu rubinoviykh gor (A journey to the country of the ruby mountains) by T.S. Kalandarov and V.P. Terekhov, published by the Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow in 2006 - ISBN 5-02-035099-0; and

b) Pamirskaya Ekspeditsia, a collection of essays on archaeological and historical research on the Western Pamirs also published by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2006.

Sustainable Livelihoods in a Fragile Environment - Paper presented to the Shanghai Forum 25 May 2013 - see here.

On 20 December 2009 The New York Times published a very well-informed article on the Pamirs by Andy Isaacson in its Sunday Travel section. See here.

The Aga Khan Development Network is one of the most important international agencies operating in Tajikistan. Its activities range from agriculture to the arts, from health care to hotels and from telecommunications to tourism. For more information see here.

Afghanistan Analysts Network: fascinating article on the Ismaili community in the Wakhan. See here.

There are now dozens of books on almost all aspects of travel and life in Central Asia. A search on one of the online booksellers, including is well worthwhile for planning your journey.

The final volume of Christoph Baumer's 4-volume History of Central Asia was published in 2018 by IB Tauris, London. All are well-researched and lavishly illustrated: Vol. 4 contains historical chapters on Afghanistan, the Great Game (especially in relation to the Pamirs) and reviews 20th century and contemporary events - an essential companion for understanding Central Asia. See here.

In January 2011, the University of Central Asia published a three-volume study on the Musical Arts of the Pamirs - See here.

The University of Central Asia recently organized a workshop on Preserving History & Building Capacity to identify the scope and status of primary sources related to the Pamir region - See here.

A three-part film for investment promotion in the Pamirs is available on YouTube - funded by GTZ. See here.

In 2011, the Russian TV series "Explorers" showed a 40 minute film on Lake Sarez (in Russian but with remarkable historical footage from Soviet 1932 expedition and showing the present-day footpath from Barchadev to the lake) - see here.

BBC News in Pictures featured the Pamirs in August 2010 - see here.

GEO published an article on the Pamirs in 2016 - see here.

Paul Salopek, the famous National Geographic journalist is on his "Out of Eden Walk" around the world. Finally he reached the Pamirs and met PECTA female guides Furough and Safina - Paul says they are his first female guides on the walk. See here.

In January 2011, CNN Traveller published an in-depth article on the Pamirs - See here.

In February 2011, an article on the Pamirs appeared in Marin Magazine (California) - author's conclusion: "here in the Pamir Range, I felt at home" - see here.

Much fascinating historical material on the early exploration of the Pamirs and adjacent regions can be found on the site of the International Dunhuang Project (IDP): and

Interesting article about post-Soviet Tajikistan in The Guardian of 8 December 2016 - see here.

Bill Buxton's website  provides excellent biographical summaries of the "Dramatis Personae of the History and Exploration of the Greater Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamirs, Hindu-Kush, Tibet, Afghanistan, High Tartary and Surrounding Territories, up to 1921." gives a very useful chronology of “Major Events Relevant to Central Asian History” from c. 1200 BCE to Tajik independence in 1991. has a collection of contemporary Tajik painting.
offers an interesting selection of illustrations of ancient and contemporary Tajik design.

For specific subjects, refer to the far from exhaustive list of links given at the end of each section of this site. The truly curious will do their own searches.


To begin with, I thought it might be helpful to anyone doing research on the Pamirs to have available my Bibliography for the Pamirs section of the Odyssey book Tajikistan and the High Pamirs - A Companion and Guide. You can download a pdf file here.

In early 2008 the University of Central Asia (UCA) and the A. Donish Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography (IHAE), Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan jointly published a new book, “An Archaeological Map of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast: the Western Pamirs” by Dr. Mira Alekseyevna Bubnova. With kind permission of Mira Alekseyevna, her Bibliography for this work can be accessed here.

pamirs mira alexeyevna bubnova archaeology

See also the Bibliography of Peter Hopkirk's The Great Game (John Murray, London, 1990) accessible on

Christian Bleuer, a PhD student at The Australian National University, is establishing a "Tajikistan Research Bibliography" - see

Kamoludin Abdullaev, an independent historian from Dushanbe, has made available a useful short bibliography relating to Tajikistan on

I have included below an eclectic selection of "basic" articles that help understanding of the past and present situation in Tajikistan and the Pamirs. It is followed by the exhaustive bibliography on the "Great Game" made available with the kind permission of the author Dr. A.V. Postnikov.

Dr. A.V. Postnikov’s book Сxватка на «Крыше Мире» - Политики, разведчики и географы в борьбе за Памир в XIX веке (Struggle on the “Roof of the World”: Politicians, spies and geographers in the contest for the Pamir in the XIX century), Moscow 2001, ISBN 5-88451-100-0, contains many footnotes with material in English. See

for a shorter article by Dr. Postnikov on the same subject (in Russian).

Dr. Postnikov's book comes with several facsimile maps – excellent but not quite up to the standard set by Markus Hauser – see

and particularly the .pdf document in

Dr. Postnikov’s comprehensive bibliography is divided into two parts:

a) Russian language publications and
b) other languages (principally English, but some French, German and Polish).
The latter is included with the kind permission of the author (click to access Postnikov’s bibliography) - N.B. I have added a few relevant and more recent publications.

An interesting list of related documentary resources on the Great Game available from IDC Publishers in the Netherlands can be found here.

Newsletters and occasional studies

Eurasia Insight. Web news service at

Inside Central Asia. On the BBC Website - see here.

International Crisis Group, Brussels. Occasional in-depth studies including much material on Central Asia. See

La Lettre d’Asie Centrale. Association de Recherches et d’Information sur l’Asie Centrale. Quarterly review. Paris.

Central Asia and the Caucasus. Centre for Political and Social Studies Sweden. See

Current Affairs

Asia-Plus see

Radio Free Europe see

Articles and books

Avineri, Shlomo. “The Return to History – the breakup of the Soviet Union”. The Brookings Review. Spring 1992.
Bekhradnia, Shahin. “The Tajik Case for a Zoroastrian Identity”. Religion, State and Society, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1994
Bliss, Frank. Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs, Tajikistan. Routledge 2005.
Brown, Bess. “The Civil War in Tajikistan”. N.d.
Brown, Bess. “Tajikistan: the Conservatives Triumph”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 2, No. 7. 12 February 1993.
Brown, Bess. “Tajik Opposition to Be Banned”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 2, No. 14. 2 April 1993.
Brown, Bess. “Three Central Asian States Form Economic union”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 3, No. 13. 1 April 1994.
Brown, Bess. “Central Asia”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 3, No. 16. 22 April 1994.
US Department of State. “Tajikistan Human Rights Practices, 1993”. Department of State Dispatch. February 1994.
Centlivres, Pierre and Micheline. “Etat, Islam et Tribus Face aux Organisations Internationales: Le cas de l’Afghanistan 1978-1998. In Annales HSS. juillet-août 1999, no. 4 945-965.
Dani, Ahmad Hasan. New Light on Central Asia. Pakistan 1993
Dickens, Mark. “The Soviets in Xinjiang. 1919-1949”. 1999
Dudoignon, Stéphane A. “Forces et Partis Politiques au Tadjikistan (1988-1993)”. Delivered to Colloque “Tadjikistan, les défis de l’indépendence”, Genève IUHEI, 15 December 1993.
Dudoignon, Stéphane A. “Une segmentation peut en cacher une autre: régionalisme et clivages politico-économiques au Tadjikistan”. Cahiers d’Etudes sur la Méditerrannée orientale et le monde turco-iranien. No. 18 juillet-décembre 1994
Emadi, Hafizullah. “State, Ideology and Islamic Resurgence in Tadjikistan”. Central Asian Survey (1994), 13(4). 565-573
Endress, Gerhard. “Chronology of Islamic Civilization”. In An Introduction to Islam. Tr. Carole Hillenbrand. New York: Columbia university Press. 1988.
Green, Ernest Thomas. “Aid to Tajikistan”. Central Asia Monitor, No. 4 1993
Gresh, Alain. “Les Républiques d’Asie Centrale s’engagent”. Le Monde Diplomatique. 12/92
Griffiths, Stephan Iwan, Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict: Threats to European Security. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1993.
Katz, Mark N. “Emerging Patterns in the International Relations of Central Asia”. Central Asia Monitor No. 1, 1994
Kazemzadeh, Firuz. “United States Policy Toward Central Asia”. Testimony to the Subcommitee on Europe and the Middle East of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, April 28, 1992.
Kubicek, Paul. “Authoritarianism in Central Asia: curse or cure”. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 1 1998. 29-43.
Margolian, Dr. M. “The Conflict in Tajikistan”. Research Note 95/2. Directorate of Strategic Analysis, Department of National Defence. Ottawa. February 1995
Martin, Keith. “Tajikistan: Civil War without end?”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 2, No. 33. 20 August 1994.
Martin, Keith. “Central Asia’s Forgotten Tragedy”. RFE/RL Research Report. Vol. 3, No. 29. 29 July 1994.
Médecins Sans Frontières. Life, Death and Aid. Routledge, NY. 1994
Mirsky, George I. “Central Asia’s Emergence”. Current History. October 1992
Olcott, Martha Brill. “The Slide into Disunion”. Current History. October 1991.
Olcott, Martha Brill. “Central Asia’s Post-Empire Politics”. Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs. Spring 1992
Olcott, Martha Brill. “Central Asia’s Catapult to Independence”. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Summer) 1992
Pannier, Bruce; Kangas, Roger D.; Bhana, Dave; Bhezanis, Lowell; Hunter, Shirin. “The Myth of Militant Islam”. Transition. 29 December 1995.
Payne, John. “Tadzhiks”. Chapter 16 of The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union. London/New York: Longman 1990. 259-273.
Powell, David E. “The Revival of Religion”. Current History. October 1991.
Rashid, Ahmed. “Tajikistan: State of Anarchy” [and other articles]. The Herald. Karachi November 1992.
Rashid, Ahmed. “From Deobandism to Batken: Adventures of an Islamic Heritage”. Delivered to CACI Forum April 13, 2000
Roy, Olivier. “Violences Ethniques et Conflits Idéologiques en Asie Centrale”. in Le phénomène de la violence politique: Perspectives comparatistes et paradigme égyptien. Dossiers du CEDEJ. Cairo 1994.
Roy, Olivier. “Islam in Tajikistan”. Open Society in Central Asia. Occasional Paper No. 1. Open Society Institute. July 1996.
Roy, Olivier. “En Asie centrale: kolhoziens et entreprenants”. In La Réinvention du Capitalisme. Paris 1994.
Rubin, Barnett R., Richter, Anthony H., and Burkhalter, Holly. Testimony presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. September 22, 1994. (including Chapter 7 by Mr. Rubin in Central Asia and the World and “Springtime in Tajikistan” by Mr. Richter in World Policy Journal )
Rüesch, Andreas. “Conflict and Collapse in Tajikistan”. Swiss Review of World Affairs. March 1994.
Shodmon, Yusuf and Ghobadiani, Rahim Musulmanian [Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan]. “Interview”. Central Asia Monitor, No. 3, 1994
Shorish, M. Mobin. “Back to Jadidism: Turkestani Education After the Fall of the USSR”. Islamic Studies, Vol. 33, Summer –Autumn 1994. 161-182
Starr, Frederick S. “Making Eurasia Stable”. Foreign Affairs. Vol. 75 No. 1 January-February 1996
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. “The ‘Tajik Spring of 1992’”. Central Asia Monitor, No. 2, 1993
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. “Women and War in Tajikistan”. Central Asia Monitor, No. 1. 1994.
Tadjbakhsh, Shahrbanou. “Causes and Consequences of the Civil War”. Central Asia Monitor, No. 1. 1993. (Also Central Asia Monitor, No. 1. 1993.“Tajikistan: End of Civil War? – Diary of Events”.)
Wright, Robin. “Report from Turkestan”. The New Yorker. Vol 68. 6 April 1992


Bibliography from A.V. Postnikov’s book Сxватка на «Крыше Мире» - Политики, разведчики и географы в борьбе за Памир в XIX веке (Struggle on the “Roof of the World”: Politicians, spies and geographers in the contest for the Pamir in the XIX century), Moscow 2001, ISBN 5-88451-100-0

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