Two Kyrgyz men wearing traditional Kalpak hats greet each other in the streets of Murghab.
At 3,650 metres above sea level, Murghab is the highest town in Tajikistan. It was founded by the Russians (as Pamirsky Post) in 1893 as their most advanced military outpost into Central Asia. Due to the altitude, only a few thousand people live here. In the summer months, semi-nomadic Kyrgyz bring their yak to graze in the nearby pastures (yurts can be seen in the foreground) and retreat to the town during the bitterly cold winter months.
The Aga Khan Foundation works with local artisans to help develop the local economy and sell their handicrafts to tourists who pass through Murghab along the Pamir Highway – the historic road and trade link that traverses Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
One of the many beautiful valleys in the Pamir mountains of eastern Tajikistan. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and an ensuing civil war, mountain communities suffered hugely from a lack of food, healthcare, electricity and other key services. At its worst point, only 13% of the 200,000 population had access to electricity in this mountainous region.
Since 2002, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development has worked with several governments, including Germany, Norway, Switzerland, the UK and the US, as well as the EU and the World Bank to restore access to electricity. Today, through Pamir Energy, 96% of households now have access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.
A girl dances at the opening ceremony of a new tourism centre in the Pamir Mountains.
As part of its economic development work, the Aga Khan Foundation supports sustainable tourism in the region through the Pamir Eco-Culture and Tourism Association. PECTA creates job opportunities for local people and encourages the preservation of historical heritage, natural resources and wildlife while helping tourists to visit this remote and breathtakingly beautiful region.
Eastern Tajikistan is a magnet for adventure cyclists many of whom travel along the Pamir Highway for hundreds of kilometres to Kazakhstan.
Cyclists are likely to pass mountain yak and the legendary Yamchun Fortress overlooking the Wakhan Corridor and beyond it the mountains of Afghanistan. This was once a Zoroastrian stronghold that guarded the Silk Road trading routes to the north of the river Panj.