Tajikistan may have its problems, but mountain lovers will want to brave it. The high point of the country's unparalleled scenery are the Pamirs, which dwarf anything found outside Nepal. The Pamir Highway provides all the high-altitude thrills you could ever hope to get without donning crampons.
This beleaguered Central Asian republic has its own flag, a national airline and a scattering of embassies abroad, but despite these emblems of sovereignty it remains a curiously incomplete and terribly troubled country. It bloodily fell apart as soon as it was free of direct rule from Moscow.
The north of Tajikistan is in all but name a part of Uzbekistan; the mountainous Pamir region, despite Soviet attempts to populate it, remains almost a vacuum; while the capital, Dushanbe, a city not yet three-quarters of a century old, still feels like an apartment awaiting its tenants.
The country has proved far from stable, surviving on a drip feed of credits and loans from Moscow while the Pamiris survive on the largesse of the Aga Khan. Visitors should definitely check the latest security situation before turning up.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track