With high mountains covering 93% of its total area, Tajikistan is blessed with natural beauty but cursed by the related troubles, especially in transport and economy. Traveling through high passes becomes impossible in winter as the mountains are covered by snow. During Soviet Union era, the journey from the capital Dushanbe to the northern city of Khojand (formerly Leninabad) used to be possible through the lowlands of Uzbekistan. But since the independence of the Central Asian republics, worsening relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have forced travelers to go through high mountain passes: Ainy (3378 m) and Shahristan (3372 m). The Chinese government helps with projects to repair the road and build tunnels through the mountains to make the trip possible all year round.
Shahristan, Tajikistan, 2006