The Tajik people came under Russian rule in the 1860s and 1870s, but Russia's hold on Central Asia weakened following the Revolution of 1917. Bands of indigenous guerrillas (called "basmachi") fiercely contested Bolshevik control of the area, which was not fully reestablished until 1925. Tajikistan was first created as an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, but the USSR designated Tajikistan a separate republic in 1929 and transferred to it much of present-day Sughd province. Ethnic Uzbeks form a substantial minority in Tajikistan, and ethnic Tajiks an even larger minority in Uzbekistan. Tajikistan became independent in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and experienced a civil war between political, regional, and religious factions from 1992 to 1997.
Tajikistan has endured several domestic security incidents since 2010, including armed conflict between government forces and local strongmen in the Rasht Valley and between government forces and criminal groups in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. In September 2015, government security forces rebuffed attacks led by a former high-ranking official in the Ministry of Defense. President Emomali RAHMON, who came to power during the civil war, used the attacks to ban the main opposition political party in Tajikistan. In May 2016, RAHMON further strengthened his position by having himself designated "Leader of the Nation" with limitless terms and lifelong immunity through constitutional amendments ratified in a referendum. The referendum also lowered the minimum age required to run for president from 35 to 30, which would make RAHMON's son Rustam EMOMALI, the current mayor of the capital Dushanbe, eligible to run for president in 2020. The country remains the poorest in the former Soviet sphere. Tajikistan became a member of the WTO in March 2013. However, its economy continues to face major challenges, including dependence on remittances from Tajiks working in Russia, pervasive corruption, and the opiate trade emanating from neighboring Afghanistan. Tajikistan suffered its first ISIS-claimed attack in 2018 when assailants rammed a vehicle into a group of Western bicyclists and then stabbed the cyclists, killing four.