The most important cities of Central Asia—Samarkand and Bukhara—are in present-day Uzbekistan, where ethnic Tajiks comprise a majority. Today, virtually all Tajik speakers in Bukhara are bilingual in Tajik and Uzbek. This Tajik–Uzbek bilingualism has had a strong influence on the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Bukharan Tajik. Tajiks are also found in large numbers in the Surxondaryo Region in the south and along Uzbekistan's eastern border with Tajikistan. Tajik is still widely spoken in Samarqand and Buxoro today, as Tajiks account for perhaps 70% of the total population of Samarqand and have been estimated to make up as much as 90% of Buxoro.
Official statistics in Uzbekistan state that the Tajik community comprises 5% of the nation's total population. However, these numbers do not include ethnic Tajiks who, for a variety of reasons, choose to identify themselves as Uzbeks in population census forms. During the Soviet "Uzbekisation" supervised by Sharof Rashidov, the head of the Uzbek Communist Party, Tajiks had to choose either to stay in Uzbekistan and get registered as Uzbek in their passports or leave the republic for the less-developed agricultural and mountainous Tajikistan. The "Uzbekization" movement ended in 1924.
Native Tajiks living in the nation of Uzbekistan have reportedly estimated that Tajiks make up 25–30% of the nation's population.
Tajiks constitute 80% of Tajikistan's population, and the language dominates in most parts of the country. Some Tajiks in Badakhshan in southeastern Tajikistan, where the Pamir languages are the native languages of most residents, are bilingual. Tajiks are the dominant ethnic group in Northern Afghanistan as well, and are also the majority group in scattered pockets elsewhere in the country, particularly urban areas such as Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Ghazni and Herat. Tajiks constitute between 25% and 30% of the total population of the country. In Afghanistan, the dialects spoken by ethnic Tajiks are written using the Persian alphabet and referred to as the Dari, along with the dialects of other groups in Afghanistan such as the Hazaragi and Aimaq dialects. Approximately 15-30% of Afghan citizens are native speakers of Dari. A large Tajik-speaking diaspora exists due to the instability that has plagued Central Asia in recent years, with significant numbers of Tajiks found in Russia, Kazakhstan, and beyond. This Tajik diaspora is also the result of the poor state of the economy of Tajikistan, and each year approximately one million men leave Tajikistan in order to gain employment in Russia.
Tajik dialects can be approximately split into the following groups:
- Northern dialects (Northern Tajikistan, Bukhara, Samarkand, Kyrgyzstan, and the Varzob valley region of Dushanbe).
- Central dialects (dialects of the upper Zarafshan Valley)
- Southern dialects (South and East of Dushanbe, Kulob, and the Rasht region of Tajikistan)
- Southeastern dialects (dialects of the Darvoz region and the Amu Darya near Rushon)
The dialect used by the Bukharan Jews of Central Asia are known as the Bukhori dialect and belong to the northern dialect grouping. They are chiefly distinguished by the inclusion of Hebrew terms, principally religious vocabulary, and a historical use of the Hebrew alphabet. Despite these differences, Bukhori is readily intelligible to other Tajik-speakers, particularly speakers of northern dialects.
A very important moment in the development of the contemporary Tajik, especially of the spoken language, is the tendency in changing its dialectal orientation. The dialects of Northern Tajikistan were the foundation of the prevalent standard Tajik, while the Southern dialects did not enjoy either popularity or prestige. Now all politicians and public officials make their speeches in the Kulob dialect, which is also used in broadcasting.