Tajikistan is a small country sandwiched in between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. Most of the population is part of the Persian-speaking Tajik, who shares language and culture with Afghanistan and Iran. The country became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991 and still maintains much of its vibrant culture.
Ninety percent of the country is covered in mountains, with cotton, aluminum, and uranium acting as its main exports. Though much of the country is still considered to be in poverty, an estimated 99.5% of the people, such as the girl pictured above, can read and write. Still, health concerns such as polio continue to increase, and many people live in villages far from modernized health care.