Mountains cover 93 percent of Tajikistan's surface area. The
two principal ranges, the Pamir and the Alay, give rise to many
glacier-fed streams and rivers, which have been used to irrigate
farmlands since ancient times. Central Asia's other major mountain
range, the Tian Shan, skirts northern Tajikistan. Mountainous
terrain separates Tajikistan's two population centers, which are
in the lowlands of the southern and northern sections of the country.
Especially in areas of intensive agricultural and industrial activity,
the Soviet Union's natural resource utilization policies left
independent Tajikistan with a legacy of environmental problems.
Data as of March 1996