Civil conflict from 1992 to 1997 weakened Tajikistan's economy. It is estimated to have shrunk by 60 percent since 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up and its 14 former republics, including Tajikistan, declared their independence. Despite some economic gains in the past several years, Tajikistan still has one of the lowest gross domestic products (GDP) per capita among the former Soviet republics and Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe. The country's primary source of foreign currency is the export of aluminum.
As in many other former socialist countries, Tajikistan has been implementing a privatization program. Since privatization began in 1991, the state has sold nearly 5,500 of its smaller properties. In 1999, nearly 300 auctions were held, resulting in more than 1,400 sales and generating the equivalent of US$14.4 million for the state treasury. One of the relatively larger privatized industries was most of the 26 factories for converting raw