In last week's country profile we explored the linguistic diversity of the Alps with our look at Switzerland. Today we're moving on to the languages spoken in and around the Pamir Mountains, which cover much of Tajikistan.
The sole official language of Tajikistan is Tajik, a variety of the Persian language. Also known as Tajiki, this member of the Indo-Iranian language family is spoken by over 6 million Tajikistanis. Tajik primarily differs from the varieties of Persian spoken in Iran and Afghanistan because of its inclusion of loanwords from Russian, Uzbek and Arabic.
Five of the country's remaining minority languages have names you may recognize: Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Persian, Pashto, and Arabic. Both Uzbek and Kyrgyz are members of the Turkic language family. There are about 900,000 native speakers of Uzbek in Tajikistan, as well as nearly 60,000 Kyrgyz speakers. The country is also home to approximately 50,000 native speakers of the variety of Persian used in Iran, as well as very small numbers of speakers of both Tajiki Arabic and Pashto.
Finally, there are six other languages with less familiar names: Shughni, Wakhi, Yazgulyam, Ishkashimi, Yaghnobi, and Parya. All of these languages belong to the Indo-Iranian language family, and the first four also belong to the closely related group of Pamir languages, which are spoken in the Pamir Mountains. The most spoken of these languages is Shughni, which is the native language of about 40,000 Tajikistanis. Yaghnobi is also used by about 12,000 Tajikistanis in the Yaghnob valley, while Parya is spoken by a few thousand people living along the border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.