Turkmenistan
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Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan / Түркменистан, ) is a country located in
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the ...
, bordered by
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in Eastern Europe. It borders Russia to Kazakhstan–Russia border, the north and ...
to the northwest,
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes / ; russian: Республика Узбекистан), is a doubly landlocked co ...
to the north, east and northeast,
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of ...
to the southeast,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
to the south and southwest and the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population is about 6 million, the lowest of the
Central Asian Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the ...
republics, and Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated nations in Asia. Turkmenistan has long served as a thoroughfare for other nations and cultures.
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
is one of the oldest oasis-cities in Central Asia, and was once the biggest city in the world. It was also one of the great cities of the
Islamic world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community, which is also known as the Ummah. This consists of all those who adhere to the religious beliefs and laws of Islam or to societies in which Islam is practiced. I ...
and an important stop on the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was a network of Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region or area of land. The term is often used to refer to ...
. Annexed by the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended the Great Northern War ...
in 1881, Turkmenistan figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1925, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nati ...
, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR); it became independent after the
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
in 1991. Turkmenistan possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas. Most of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. From 1993 to 2017, citizens received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge. Turkmenistan is an observer state in the Organisation of Turkic States, the Türksoy community and a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunication ...
. It is also the only permanent neutral country recognized by the UN General Assembly in Asia. The country is widely criticized for its poor human rights, its treatment of minorities, press and religious freedoms. Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has been ruled by repressive totalitarian regimes, that of President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as ''Türkmenbaşy'' or "Head of the Turkmens") until his death in 2006, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who became president in 2007 after winning a non-democratic election (he had been vice-president and then acting president previously) and ruled the country until he stepped down in 2022 in favour of his son Serdar, who won a subsequent presidential election described by international observers as neither free nor fair. The use of the death penalty was suspended in 1999, before being formally abolished in 2008.


Etymology

The name of Turkmenistan ( tk, Türkmenistan) can be divided into two components: the ethnonym Türkmen and the Persian suffix -stan meaning "place of" or "country". The name "Turkmen" comes from Turk, plus the Sogdian suffix -men, meaning "almost Turk", in reference to their status outside the Turkic dynastic mythological system. However, some scholars argue the suffix is an intensifier, changing the meaning of Türkmen to "pure Turks" or "the Turkish Turks." Muslim chroniclers like
Ibn Kathir Abū al-Fiḍā’ ‘Imād ad-Dīn Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Umar ibn Kathīr al-Qurashī al-Damishqī (Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / ...
suggested that the etymology of Turkmenistan came from the words Türk and Iman ( ar, إيمان, "faith, belief") in reference to a massive conversion to Islam of two hundred thousand households in the year 971. Turkmenistan declared its independence from the Soviet Union after the independence referendum in 1991. As a result, the constitutional law was adopted on 27 October of that year and Article 1 established the new name of the state: Turkmenistan (''Türkmenistan'' / Түркменистан). A common name for the Turkmen SSR was Turkmenia (russian: Туркмения), used in some reports of the country's independence.


History

Historically inhabited by the Indo-Iranians, the written history of Turkmenistan begins with its annexation by the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Based in Western Asia, it was contemporarily the largest e ...
of Ancient Iran. Later, in the 8th century AD, Turkic-speaking Oghuz tribes moved from
Mongolia Mongolia; Mongolian script: , , ; lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia" () is a landlocked country in East Asia, bordered by Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Easter ...
into present-day Central Asia. Part of a powerful confederation of tribes, these Oghuz formed the ethnic basis of the modern Turkmen population. In the 10th century, the name "Turkmen" was first applied to Oghuz groups that accepted
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God (or '' Allah'') as it was revealed to Muhammad, the ...
and began to occupy present-day Turkmenistan. There they were under the dominion of the
Seljuk Empire The Great Seljuk Empire, or the Seljuk Empire was a high medieval, culturally Turko-Persian, Sunni Muslim empire, founded and ruled by the Qïnïq branch of Oghuz Turks. It spanned a total area of from Anatolia Anatolia, tr, Anadolu ...
, which was composed of Oghuz groups living in present-day
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
and Turkmenistan. Oghuz groups in the service of the empire played an important role in the spreading of Turkic culture when they migrated westward into present-day
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
and eastern
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula ...
. In the 12th century, Turkmen and other tribes overthrew the Seljuk Empire. In the next century, the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , , ; ; russian: Монголы) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia; Mongolian script: , , ; lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia" () is a landlocked country i ...
took over the more northern lands where the Turkmens had settled, scattering the Turkmens southward and contributing to the formation of new tribal groups. The sixteenth and eighteenth centuries saw a series of splits and confederations among the
nomad A nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads (owning livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agr ...
ic Turkmen tribes, who remained staunchly independent and inspired fear in their neighbors. By the 16th century, most of those tribes were under the nominal control of two sedentary Uzbek khanates, Khiva and Bukhoro. Turkmen soldiers were an important element of the Uzbek militaries of this period. In the 19th century, raids and rebellions by the Yomud Turkmen group resulted in that group's dispersal by the Uzbek rulers. In 1855 the Turkmen tribe of Teke led by Gowshut-Khan defeated the invading army of the Khan of Khiva Muhammad Amin Khan and in 1861 the invading
Persia Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and T ...
n army of Nasreddin-Shah. In the second half of the 19th century, northern Turkmens were the main military and political power in the Khanate of Khiva. According to Paul R. Spickard, "Prior to the Russian conquest, the Turkmen were known and feared for their involvement in the Central Asian
slave trade Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to per ...
." Russian forces began occupying Turkmen territory late in the 19th century. From their
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
base at Krasnovodsk (now Türkmenbaşy), the Russians eventually overcame the Uzbek khanates. In 1879, the Russian forces were defeated by the Teke Turkmens during the first attempt to conquer the Ahal area of Turkmenistan. However, in 1881, the last significant resistance in Turkmen territory was crushed at the Battle of Geok Tepe, and shortly thereafter Turkmenistan was annexed, together with adjoining Uzbek territory, into the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended the Great Northern War ...
. In 1916, the Russian Empire's participation in
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in ...
resonated in Turkmenistan, as an anticonscription revolt swept most of Russian Central Asia. Although the
Russian Revolution The Russian Revolution was a period of political and social revolution that took place in the former Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across lar ...
of 1917 had little direct impact, in the 1920s Turkmen forces joined Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Uzbeks in the so-called Basmachi Rebellion against the rule of the newly formed
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nati ...
. In 1921 the tsarist province of Transcaspia (russian: Закаспийская область, 'Transcaspian Oblast') was renamed Turkmen Oblast (russian: Туркменская область), and in 1924, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was formed from it. By the late 1930s, Soviet reorganization of agriculture had destroyed what remained of the nomadic lifestyle in Turkmenistan, and Moscow controlled political life. The Ashgabat earthquake of 1948 killed over 110,000 people, amounting to two-thirds of the city's population. During the next half-century, Turkmenistan played its designated economic role within the Soviet Union and remained outside the course of major world events. Even the major liberalization movement that shook Russia in the late 1980s had little impact. However, in 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Turkmenistan declared sovereignty as a nationalist response to perceived exploitation by
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐskˈva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on t ...
. Although Turkmenistan was ill-prepared for independence and then-
communist Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
leader Saparmurat Niyazov preferred to preserve the Soviet Union, in October 1991, the fragmentation of that entity forced him to call a national referendum that approved independence. On 26 December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Niyazov continued as Turkmenistan's chief of state, replacing communism with a unique brand of independent nationalism reinforced by a pervasive
cult of personality A cult of personality, or a cult of the leader, Mudde, Cas and Kaltwasser, Cristóbal Rovira (2017) ''Populism: A Very Short Introduction''. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 63. is the result of an effort which is made to create an id ...
. A 1994 referendum and legislation in 1999 abolished further requirements for the president to stand for re-election (although in 1992 he completely dominated the only presidential election in which he ran, as he was the only candidate and no one else was allowed to run for the office), making him effectively president for life. During his tenure, Niyazov conducted frequent purges of public officials and abolished organizations deemed threatening. Throughout the post-Soviet era, Turkmenistan has taken a neutral position on almost all international issues. Niyazov eschewed membership in regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and in the late 1990s he maintained relations with the
Taliban The Taliban (; ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students or 'seekers'), which also refers to itself by its state name, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a Deobandi Islamic fundamentalist, militant Islamist, jihadist, and P ...
and its chief opponent in
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of ...
, the Northern Alliance. He offered limited support to the military campaign against the Taliban following the 11 September 2001 attacks. In 2002 an alleged assassination attempt against Niyazov led to a new wave of security restrictions, dismissals of government officials, and restrictions placed on the media. Niyazov accused exiled former foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov of having planned the attack. Between 2002 and 2004, serious tension arose between Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes / ; russian: Республика Узбекистан), is a doubly landlocked co ...
because of bilateral disputes and Niyazov's implication that Uzbekistan had a role in the 2002 assassination attempt. In 2004, a series of bilateral treaties restored friendly relations. In the parliamentary elections of December 2004 and January 2005, only Niyazov's party was represented, and no international monitors participated. In 2005, Niyazov exercised his dictatorial power by closing all hospitals outside Ashgabat and all rural libraries. The year 2006 saw intensification of the trends of arbitrary policy changes, shuffling of top officials, diminishing economic output outside the oil and gas sector, and isolation from regional and world organizations. China was among a very few nations to whom Turkmenistan made significant overtures. The sudden death of Niyazov at the end of 2006 left a complete vacuum of power, as his cult of personality, comparable to the one of eternal president Kim Il-sung of
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination ...
, had precluded the naming of a successor. Deputy Prime Minister Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who was named interim head of government, won a non-democratic special presidential election held in early February 2007. His appointment as interim president and subsequent run for president violated the constitution. Berdimuhamedow won two additional non-democratic elections, with approximately 97% of the vote in both 2012 and 2017. His son Serdar Berdimuhamedow won a non-democratic snap presidential election in 2022, establishing a political dynasty in Turkmenistan. On 19 March 2022, Serdar Berdimuhamedov was sworn in as Turkmenistan’s new president to succeed his father.


Politics

After over a century of being a part of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended the Great Northern War ...
and then the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nati ...
(including 67 years as a union republic), Turkmenistan declared its independence on 27 October 1991, following the
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
. Saparmurat Niyazov, a former official of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union " Hymn of the Bolshevik Party" , headquarters = 4 Staraya Square, Moscow , general_secretary = Vladimir Lenin (first) Mikhail Gorbachev (last) , founded = , banned = , founder = Vladimir Lenin , newspap ...
, ruled Turkmenistan from 1985, when he became head of the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR, until his death in 2006. He retained absolute control over the country as President after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. On 28 December 1999, Niyazov was declared President for Life of Turkmenistan by the Mejlis (parliament), which itself had taken office a week earlier in elections that included only candidates hand-picked by President Niyazov. No opposition candidates were allowed. Since the December 2006 death of Niyazov, Turkmenistan's leadership has made tentative moves to open up the country. His successor, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, repealed some of Niyazov's most idiosyncratic policies, including banning operas and circuses for being ''"insufficiently Turkmen"'', though other such rules were later put into place such as the banning of non-white cars. In education, Berdimuhamedow's government increased basic education to ten years from nine years, and higher education was extended from four years to five. The politics of Turkmenistan take place in the framework of a presidential
republic A republic () is a " state in which power rests with the people or their representatives; specifically a state without a monarchy" and also a " government, or system of government, of such a state." Previously, especially in the 17th and 1 ...
, with the President both
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and ...
and
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presides over a cabinet, ...
. Under Niyazov, Turkmenistan had a one-party system; however, in September 2008, the People's Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting a new
Constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity An entity is something that exists as itself, as a subject or as an ...
. The latter resulted in the abolition of the council and a significant increase in the size of Parliament in December 2008 and also permits the formation of multiple political parties. The former Communist Party, now known as the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, is the dominant party. The second party, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, was established in August 2012, and an agrarian party appeared two years later. Political gatherings are illegal unless government sanctioned. In 2013, the first multi-party parliamentary elections were held in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan was a one-party state from 1991 to 2012; however, the 2013 elections were widely seen as rigged. In practice, all parties in parliament operate jointly under the direction of the DPT. There are no true opposition parties in the Turkmen parliament.


Legislature

In September 2020 the Turkmenistan Parliament adopted a constitutional amendment creating an upper chamber and thus making the Parliament bicameral. The upper chamber is named the People's Council ( tk, Halk Maslahaty) and consists of 56 members, 48 of whom are elected and 8 of whom are appointed by the president. Together with the previous unicameral parliament, the 125-seat Mejlis, as the lower chamber, the Parliament is now called the National Council ( tk, Milli Geňeş). Elections to the upper chamber were held 28 March 2021. Elections to the Mejlis were last held 25 March 2018. Outside observers consider the Turkmen legislature to be a rubber stamp parliament. The 2018 OSCE election observer mission noted,
The 25 March elections lacked important prerequisites of a genuinely democratic electoral process. The political environment is only nominally pluralist and does not offer voters political alternatives. Exercise of fundamental freedoms is severely curtailed, inhibiting free expression of the voters' will. Despite measures to demonstrate transparency, the integrity of elections was not ensured, leaving veracity of results in doubt


Corruption

Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index placed Turkmenistan in a tie with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 169th place globally, between Chad and Equatorial Guinea, with a score of 19 out of 100. Opposition media and foreign human rights organizations describe Turkmenistan as suffering from rampant corruption. A non-governmental organization, Crude Accountability, has openly called the economy of Turkmenistan a
kleptocracy Kleptocracy (from Ancient Greek, Greek κλέπτης ''kléptēs'', "thief", κλέπτω ''kléptō'', "I steal", and -κρατία -''kratía'' from κράτος ''krátos'', "power, rule") is a government whose Corruption, corrupt leaders ...
. Opposition and domestic state-controlled media have described widespread bribery in education and law enforcement. In 2019, the national chief of police, Minister of Internal Affairs Isgender Mulikov, was convicted and imprisoned for corruption.Archived a
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In 2020 the deputy prime minister for education and science, Pürli Agamyradow, was dismissed for failure to control bribery in education. The illegal adoption of abandoned babies in Turkmenistan is blamed on rampant corruption in the agencies involved in the legal adoption process which pushes some parents to a "cheaper and faster" option. One married couple in the eastern Farap district said that they had to provide documents and letters from 40 different agencies to support their adoption application, yet three years later there was still no decision on their bid. Meanwhile, wealthier applicants in Farap received a child for legal adoption within four months after applying because they paid up to 50,000 manats (about $14,300) in bribes.


Judiciary

The judiciary in Turkmenistan is not independent. Under Articles 71 and 100 of the constitution of Turkmenistan, the president appoints all judges, including the chairperson (chief justice) of the Supreme Court, and may dismiss them with the consent of the Parliament. Outside observers consider the Turkmen legislature to be a rubber stamp parliament, and thus despite constitutional guarantees of judicial independence under Articles 98 and 99, the judiciary is ''de facto'' firmly under presidential control. The chief justice is considered a member of the executive authority of the government and sits on the State Security Council. The U.S. Department of State stated in its 2020-human rights report on Turkmenistan,
Although the law provides for an independent judiciary, the executive controls it, and it is subordinate to the executive. There was no legislative review of the president's judicial appointments and dismissals. The president had sole authority to dismiss any judge. The judiciary was widely reputed to be corrupt and inefficient.
Many national laws of Turkmenistan have been published online on the Ministry of Justice website.


Foreign relations

Turkmenistan's declaration of "permanent neutrality" was formally recognized by the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunication ...
in 1995. Former President Saparmurat Niyazov stated that the neutrality would prevent Turkmenistan from participating in multi-national defense organizations, but allows
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distin ...
assistance. Its neutral
foreign policy A state's foreign policy or external policy (as opposed to internal or domestic policy) is its objectives and activities in relation to its interactions with other states, unions, and other political entities, whether bilaterally or through ...
has an important place in the country's constitution. Turkmenistan has diplomatic relations with 139 countries, some of the most important allies being
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of ...
,
Armenia Armenia (), , group=pron officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region ...
,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, ...
and
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with its internationally recognised territory covering , and encompassing one-ei ...
. Turkmenistan is a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunication ...
, the
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is "working to foster gl ...
, the
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of low- and middle-income countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. The World Bank is the collective name for the Int ...
, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the
Islamic Development Bank The Islamic Development Bank ( ar, البنك الإسلامي للتنمية, abbreviated as IsDB) is a multilateral development finance institution that is focused on Islamic finance for infrastructure development and located in Jeddah, Saud ...
, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: link=no, Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is an intern ...
, International Organization of Turkic Culture and observer member of Organisation of Turkic States.


Human rights

Turkmenistan has been widely criticised for human rights abuses and has imposed severe restrictions on foreign travel for its citizens. Discrimination against the country's ethnic minorities remains in practice. Universities have been encouraged to reject applicants with non-Turkmen surnames, especially ethnic Russians. It is forbidden to teach the customs and language of the Baloch, an ethnic minority. The same happens to Uzbeks, though the
Uzbek language Uzbek (''Oʻzbekcha, Oʻzbek tili or Ўзбекча, Ўзбек тили''), formerly known as ''Turki'' or ''Western Turki'', is a Turkic language spoken by Uzbeks. It is the official, and national language of Uzbekistan. Uzbek is spoken as ...
was formerly taught in some national schools. According to Human Rights Watch, "Turkmenistan remains one of the world's most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal." According to
Reporters Without Borders Reporters Without Borders (RWB; french: Reporters sans frontières; RSF) is an international non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...
's 2014 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan had the 3rd worst press freedom conditions in the world (178/180 countries), just before
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination ...
and
Eritrea Eritrea ( ; ti, ኤርትራ, Ertra, ; ar, إرتريا, ʾIritriyā), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa region of Eastern Africa, with its capital and largest city at Asmara. It is bordered by Ethiopi ...
. It is considered to be one of the "10 Most Censored Countries". Each broadcast under Niyazov began with a pledge that the broadcaster's tongue will shrivel if he slanders the country, flag, or president. Religious minorities are discriminated against for conscientious objection and practicing their religion by imprisonment, preventing foreign travel, confiscating copies of Christian literature or defamation. Many detainees who have been arrested for exercising their freedom of religion or belief were tortured and subsequently sentenced to imprisonment, many of them without a court decision. Homosexual acts are illegal in Turkmenistan.


Restrictions on free and open communication

Despite the launch of Turkmenistan's first
communication satellite A communications satellite is an artificial satellite that relays and amplifies radio telecommunication signals via a transponder In telecommunications, a transponder is a device that, upon receiving a signal, emits a different signal in r ...
, the TurkmenSat 1, in April 2015, the Turkmen government banned all satellite dishes in Turkmenistan the same month. The statement issued by the government indicated that all existing satellite dishes would have to be removed or destroyed—despite the communications receiving antennas having been legally installed since 1995—in an effort by the government to fully block access of the population to many "hundreds of independent international media outlets" which are currently accessible in the country only through satellite dishes, including all leading international news channels in different languages. The main target of this campaign is Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen-language service of
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 ...
(which is run by the U.S. government). Internet access is filtered and websites to which the government objects are blocked. Blocked websites include opposition news media, YouTube, many social media including Facebook, and encrypted communications applications. Use of virtual private networks to circumvent censorship is prohibited.


Geography

At , Turkmenistan is the world's 52nd-largest country. It is slightly smaller than
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
and larger than
Cameroon Cameroon (; french: Cameroun, ff, Kamerun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west- central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, N ...
. It lies between latitudes 35° and 43° N, and longitudes 52° and 67° E. Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression and the Karakum Desert. Topographically, Turkmenistan is bounded by the Ustyurt Plateau to the north, the
Kopet Dag The Köpet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh ( tk, Köpetdag; fa, کپه‌داغ), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range, is a mountain range A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountain A mountain is an elevated ...
Range to the south, the Paropamyz Plateau, the Koytendag Range to the east, the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River and historically known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language b ...
Valley, and the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
to the west. Turkmenistan includes three tectonic regions, the Epigersin platform region, the Alpine shrinkage region, and the Epiplatform orogenesis region. The Alpine tectonic region is the epicenter of earthquakes in Turkmenistan. Strong earthquakes occurred in the Kopet Dag Range in 1869, 1893, 1895, 1929, 1948, and 1994. The city of Ashgabat and surrounding villages were largely destroyed by the 1948 earthquake. The
Kopet Dag The Köpet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh ( tk, Köpetdag; fa, کپه‌داغ), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range, is a mountain range A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountain A mountain is an elevated ...
Range, along the southwestern border, reaches at Kuh-e Rizeh (Mount Rizeh). The Great Balkhan Range in the west of the country ( Balkan Province) and the Köýtendag Range on the southeastern border with Uzbekistan (
Lebap Province Lebap Region ( tk, Lebap welaýaty/Лебап велаяты from the Persian ''Lab-e āb'') is one of the regions of Turkmenistan. It is in the northeast of the country, bordering Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Em ...
) are the only other significant elevations. The Great Balkhan Range rises to at Mount Arlan and the highest summit in Turkmenistan is Ayrybaba in the Kugitangtau Range – . The
Kopet Dag The Köpet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh ( tk, Köpetdag; fa, کپه‌داغ), also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range, is a mountain range A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountain A mountain is an elevated ...
mountain range forms most of the border between Turkmenistan and Iran. Major rivers include the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River and historically known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language b ...
, the Murghab River, the Tejen River, and the Atrek (Etrek) River. Tributaries of the Atrek include the Sumbar River and Chandyr River. The Turkmen shore along the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
is long. The Caspian Sea is entirely landlocked, with no natural access to the ocean, although the Volga–Don Canal allows shipping access to and from the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of Anatolia. It is bounded by Bulgaria, Geor ...
. Major cities include Aşgabat, Türkmenbaşy (formerly Krasnovodsk), Balkanabat, Daşoguz, Türkmenabat, and Mary.


Climate, biodiversity and environment

Turkmenistan is in a temperate desert zone with a dry continental climate. Remote from the open sea, with mountain ranges to the south and southeast, Turkmenistan's climate is characterized by low precipitation, low cloudiness, and high evaporation. Absence of mountains to the north allows cold Arctic air to penetrate southward to the southerly mountain ranges, which in turn block warm, moist air from the Indian Ocean. Limited winter and spring rains are attributable to moist air from the west, originating in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Winters are mild and dry, with most precipitation falling between January and May. The Kopet Dag Range receives the highest level of precipitation. The Karakum Desert is one of the driest deserts in the world; some places have an average annual precipitation of only . The highest temperature recorded in Ashgabat is and Kerki, an extreme inland city located on the banks of the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River and historically known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language b ...
river, recorded in July 1983, although this value is unofficial. is the highest temperature recorded at Repetek Reserve, recognized as the highest temperature ever recorded in the whole former Soviet Union. Turkmenistan enjoys 235–240 sunny days per year. The average number of degree days ranges from 4500 to 5000 Celsius, sufficient for production of extra long staple cotton. Turkmenistan contains seven terrestrial ecoregions: Alai-Western Tian Shan steppe, Kopet Dag woodlands and forest steppe, Badghyz and Karabil semi-desert, Caspian lowland desert, Central Asian riparian woodlands, Central Asian southern desert, and Kopet Dag semi-desert. Turkmenistan's greenhouse gas emissions per person (17.5 tCO2e) are considerably higher than the OECD average: due mainly to natural gas seepage from oil and gas exploration.


Administrative divisions

Turkmenistan is divided into five provinces or ''welayatlar'' (singular '' welayat'') and one capital city district. The provinces are subdivided into districts (''etraplar'', sing. ''etrap''), which may be either counties or cities. According to the Constitution of Turkmenistan (Article 16 in the 2008 Constitution, Article 47 in the 1992 Constitution), some cities may have the status of ''welaýat'' (province) or ''etrap'' (district).


Economy

The country possesses the world's fourth largest reserves of
natural gas Natural gas (also called fossil gas or simply gas) is a naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane in addition to various smaller amounts of other higher alkanes. Low levels of trace gases like carbon ...
and substantial oil resources. Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its economy. In 2014, the unemployment rate was estimated to be 11%. Between 1998 and 2002, Turkmenistan suffered from the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to another party, the creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, which differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The ...
. At the same time, however, the value of total exports rose sharply due to increases in international oil and gas prices. The subsequent collapse of both hydrocarbon and cotton prices in 2014 cut revenues from export sales severely, causing Turkmenistan to run trade deficits from 2015 through 2017. Economic prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty and the burden of foreign debt, coupled with continued low hydrocarbon prices and reduced Chinese purchases of natural gas. One reflection of economic stress is the black-market exchange rate for the Turkmen manat, which though officially set at 3.5 manats to the US dollar, reportedly was trading in January 2021 at 32 manats to the dollar. President Niyazov spent much of the country's revenue on extensively renovating cities, Ashgabat in particular. Corruption watchdogs voiced particular concern over the management of Turkmenistan's currency reserves, most of which are held in off-budget funds such as the Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund in the Deutsche Bank in
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: , "Frank Frank or Franks may refer to: People * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) * Franks (surname) * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples w ...
, according to a report released in April 2006 by London-based non-governmental organization Global Witness. According to a decree of the Peoples' Council of 14 August 2003,
electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. Electricity is related to magnetism Magnetism is the class of physical attributes that are mediate ...
,
natural gas Natural gas (also called fossil gas or simply gas) is a naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane in addition to various smaller amounts of other higher alkanes. Low levels of trace gases like carbon ...
,
water Water (chemical formula ) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms (in which it acts a ...
and
salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of salts; salt in the form of a natural crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. Salt is present in vast qua ...
were to have been subsidized for citizens until 2030. Under implementing regulations, every citizen was entitled to 35 kilowatt hours of electricity and 50 cubic meters of natural gas each month. The state also provided 250 liters (66 gallons) of water per day. As of 1 January 2019, however, all such subsidies were abolished, and payment for utilities was implemented.


Natural gas and export routes

, the Galkynysh Gas Field was estimated to possess the second-largest volume of gas in the world, after the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf. Reserves at the Galkynysh Gas Field are estimated at around 21.2 trillion cubic metres. The Turkmenistan Natural Gas Company ( Türkmengaz) controls gas extraction in the country. Gas production is the most dynamic and promising sector of the national economy. In 2009 the government of Turkmenistan began a policy of diversifying export routes for its raw materials. Prior to 1958 gas production was limited to associated gas from oil wells in western Turkmenistan. In 1958, the first gas wells were drilled at Serhetabat (then Kushky) and at Derweze. Oil and gas fields were discovered in the Central Karakum Desert between 1959 and 1965. In addition to Derweze, these include Takyr, Shyh, Chaljulba, Topjulba, Chemmerli, Atabay, Sakarchage, Atasary, Mydar, Goyun, and Zakli. These fields are located in Jurassic and Cretaceous sediments. The Turkmen gas industry got underway with the opening of the Ojak gas field in 1966. To put this in perspective, associated gas production in Turkmenistan was only 1.157 billion cubic meters in 1965, but by 1970 natural gas production reached 13 billion cubic meters, and by 1989, 90 billion cubic meters. The USSR exported much of this gas to western Europe. Following independence, natural gas extraction fell as Turkmenistan sought export markets but was limited to existing delivery infrastructure under Russian control: Turkmenistan-Russia in two lines (3087 km, originating at Ojak, and another of 2259 km, also originating at Ojak); the Gumdag line (2530 km); and the Shatlyk line (2644 km) to Russia, Ukraine, and the Caucasus. On 1 January 2016, Russia halted natural gas purchases from Turkmenistan after reducing them step by step for the previous years. Russia's Gazprom announced resumption of purchases in April 2019, but reported volumes remained low compared to previous delivery levels. In 1997, the Korpeje-Gurtguy natural gas pipeline was built to
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
. It is 140 kilometers in length and was the first gas pipeline to a foreign customer constructed after independence. Turkmenistan's exports of natural gas to Iran, estimated at 12 bcma, ended on 1 January 2017, when Turkmengaz unilaterally cut off deliveries, citing payment arrears. In December 2009 the first line, Line A, of the Trans-Asia pipeline to China opened, creating a second major market for Turkmen natural gas. By 2015 Turkmenistan was delivering up to 35 billion cubic meters per annum (bcma) to China. China is the largest buyer of gas from Turkmenistan, via three pipelines linking the two countries through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. In 2019, China bought over 30bcm of gas from Turkmenistan, making China Turkmenistan's main external source of revenue. The East–West pipeline was completed in December 2015, with the intent of delivering up to 30 bcm of natural gas to the Caspian shore for eventual export through a yet-to-be-built Trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline connecting the Belek-1 compressor station in Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. The Turkmenistan government continues to pursue construction of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline, or TAPI. The anticipated cost of the TAPI pipeline is currently estimated at $25 billion. Turkmenistan's section of the pipeline was started in 2015 and was completed in 2019, though the Afghanistan and Pakistan sections remain under construction. 6 billion dollars worth of
methane Methane ( , ) is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entities) containing atom Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound ...
, a greenhouse gas which causes
climate change In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to ...
, was estimated to leak in 2019/20.


Oil

Oil was known to exist in western Turkmenistan as early as the 18th century. General
Aleksey Kuropatkin Aleksey Nikolayevich Kuropatkin (russian: Алексе́й Никола́евич Куропа́ткин; March 29, 1848January 16, 1925) served as the Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country sp ...
reported in 1879 that the Cheleken Peninsula had as many as three thousand oil sources. Turkmen settlers in the 19th century extracted oil near the surface and shipped it to Astrakhan by ship and to Iran by camel caravan. Commercial oil drilling began in the 1890s. The oil extraction industry grew with the exploitation of the fields in Cheleken in 1909 (by Branobel) and in Balkanabat in the 1930s. Production leaped ahead with the discovery of the Gumdag field in 1948 and the Goturdepe field in 1959. By 1940 production had reached two million tons per year, by 1960 over four million tons, and by 1970 over 14 million tons. Oil production in 2019 was 9.8 million tons. Oil wells are mainly found in the western lowlands. This area also produces associated natural gas. The main oilfields are Cheleken, Gonurdepe, Nebitdag, Gumdag, Barsagelmez, Guyujyk, Gyzylgum, Ordekli, Gogerendag, Gamyshlyja, Ekerem, Chekishler, Keymir, Ekizek, and Bugdayly. Oil is also produced from offshore wells in the Caspian Sea. Most oil is extracted by the Turkmenistan State Company (Concern) Türkmennebit from fields at Goturdepe, Balkanabat, and on the Cheleken Peninsula near the Caspian Sea, which have a combined estimated reserve of 700 million tons. Much of the oil produced in Turkmenistan is refined in the Türkmenbaşy and Seydi refineries. Some oil is exported by tanker vessel across the Caspian Sea en route to Europe via Baku and Makhachkala. Foreign firms involved in offshore oil extraction include Eni S.p.A. of Italy, Dragon Oil of the United Arab Emirates, and Petronas of Malaysia. On 21 January 2021, the governments of
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum of understanding to develop jointly an oil field in the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
that straddles the nations' border. Known previously as Kyapaz in Azeri and Serdar in Turkmen, the oil field, now called Dostluk ("friendship" in both languages), potentially has reserves of up to 60 million tons of oil as well as associated natural gas.


Energy

Turkmenistan's first electrical power plant was built in 1909 and went into full operation in 1913. As of 2019 it was still in operation. The original triple-turbine Hindukush hydroelectric plant, built by the Austro-Hungarian company Ganz Works on the Murghab River, was designed to produce 1.2 megawatts at 16.5 kilovolts. Until 1957, however, most electrical power in Turkmenistan was produced locally by small Diesel generators and Diesel-electric locomotives. In 1957 Soviet authorities created a republic-level directorate for power generation, and in 1966 Turkmenistan entered the first phase of connecting its remote regions to the regional Central Asian electrical grid. By 1979 all rural areas of Turkmenistan were brought on line. Construction of the Mary thermal power plant began in 1969, and by 1987 the eighth and final generator block was completed, bringing the plant to its design capacity of 1.686 gigawatts. In 1998 Turkmenenergo commissioned its first gas-turbine power plant, using GE turbines. As of 2010 Turkmenistan featured eight major power plants operating on natural gas, in Mary, Ashgabat, Balkanabat, Buzmeyin (suburb of Ashgabat), Dashoguz, Türkmenbaşy, Turkmenabat, and Seydi. As of 2013, Turkmenistan had 10 electrical power plants equipped with 32 turbines, including 14 steam-driven, 15 gas powered, and 3 hydroelectric. Power output in 2011 was 18.27 billion kWh, of which 2.5 billion kWh was exported. Major power generating installations include the Hindukush Hydroelectric Station, which has a rated capacity of 350 megawatts, and the Mary Thermoelectric Power Station, which has a rated capacity of 1,370 megawatts. In 2018, electrical power production totaled more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours. Since 2013, additional power plants have been constructed in Mary and Ahal province, and Çärjew District of
Lebap province Lebap Region ( tk, Lebap welaýaty/Лебап велаяты from the Persian ''Lab-e āb'') is one of the regions of Turkmenistan. It is in the northeast of the country, bordering Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Em ...
. The Mary-3 combined cycle power plant, built by Çalık Holding with GE turbines, commissioned in 2018, produces 1.574 gigawatts of electrical power and is specifically intended to support expanded exports of electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Zerger power plant built by
Sumitomo The is one of the largest Japanese '' keiretsu'', or business groups, founded by Masatomo Sumitomo (1585-1652) around 1615 during the early Edo period. History The Sumitomo Group traces its roots to a bookshop in Kyoto Kyoto (; Japanese: , ...
, Mitsubishi,
Hitachi () is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational Conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is the parent company of the Hitachi Group (''Hitachi Gurūpu'') and had formed part of the Ni ...
, and Rönesans Holding in Çärjew District has a design capacity of 432 megawatts from three 144-megawatt gas turbines and was commissioned in September 2021. It is also primarily intended for export of electricity. The Ahal power plant, with capacity of 650 megawatts, was constructed to power the city of Ashgabat and in particular the Olympic Village. Turkmenistan is a net exporter of electrical power to Central Asian republics and southern neighbors. In 2019, total electrical energy generation in Turkmenistan reportedly totaled 22,521.6 million kilowatt-hours (22.52 terawatt-hours).


Agriculture

Following independence in 1991, Soviet-era collective- and state farms were converted to "farmers associations" ( tk, daýhan birleşigi). Virtually all field crops are irrigated due to the aridity of the climate. The top crop in terms of area planted is wheat (761 thousand hectares in 2019), followed by cotton (551 thousand hectares in 2019). Turkmenistan is the world's tenth-largest cotton producer. Turkmenistan started producing cotton in the Murghab Valley following conquest of
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
by the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended the Great Northern War ...
in 1884. According to human rights organizations, public sector workers, such as teachers and doctors, are required by the government to pick cotton under the threat of losing their jobs if they refuse. During the 2020 season, Turkmenistan reportedly produced roughly 1.5 million tons of raw cotton. In 2012, around 7,000 tractors, 5,000 cotton cultivators, 2,200 sowing machines and other machinery, mainly procured from Belarus and the United States, were used. Prior to imposition of a ban on export of raw cotton in October 2018, Turkmenistan exported raw cotton to Russia, Iran, South Korea, United Kingdom, China, Indonesia, Turkey, Ukraine, Singapore and the
Baltic states The Baltic states, et, Balti riigid or the Baltic countries is a geopolitical term, which currently is used to group three countries: Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Se ...
. Beginning in 2019, the Turkmenistan government shifted focus to export of cotton yarn and finished textiles and garments.


Tourism

Turkmenistan reported arrival of 14,438 foreign tourists in 2019. Turkmenistan's international tourism has not grown significantly despite creation of the Awaza tourist zone on the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
. Every traveler must obtain a visa before entering Turkmenistan (see Visa policy of Turkmenistan). To obtain a tourist visa, citizens of most countries need visa support from a local travel agency. For tourists visiting Turkmenistan, organized tours exist providing visits to historical sites in and near Daşoguz, Konye-Urgench, Nisa, Ancient
Merv Merv ( tk, Merw, ', مرو; fa, مرو, ''Marv''), also known as the Merve Oasis, formerly known as Alexandria ( grc-gre, Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Antiochia in Margiana ( grc-gre, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐν τῇ Μαργιανῇ) and ...
, and Mary, as well as beach tours to Avaza and medical tours and holidays in the sanatoria in Mollagara, Bayramaly, Ýylysuw and Archman. In January 2022 President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow ordered that the fire at the Darvaza gas crater, known informally as the country's "Gateway to Hell", and one of Turkmenistan's most popular tourist attractions, should be extinguished. Many believe that the crater formed when a Soviet drilling operation went wrong in 1971, but Canadian explorer George Kourounis examined it in 2013 and discovered that no-one actually knows how it started.


Transportation


Automobile transport

Prior to the 1917
Russian Revolution The Russian Revolution was a period of political and social revolution that took place in the former Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across lar ...
only three automobiles existed in Turkmenistan, all of them foreign models in Ashgabat. No automobile roads existed between settlements. After the revolution, Soviet authorities graded dirt roads to connect Mary and Kushky (Serhetabat), Tejen and Sarahs, Kyzyl-Arvat (Serdar) with Garrygala (Magtymguly) and Chekishler, i.e., with important border crossings. In 1887–1888 the Gaudan Highway (russian: Гауданское шоссе) was built between Ashgabat and the Persian border at Gaudan Pass, and Persian authorities extended it to Mashhad, allowing for easier commercial relations. Municipal bus service began in Ashgabat in 1925 with five routes, and taxicab service began in 1938 with five vehicles. The road network was extended in the 1970s with construction of republic-level highways connecting Ashgabat and Kazanjyk (Bereket), Ashgabat and Bayramaly, Nebit Dag (Balkanabat) and Krasnovodsk (Türkmenbaşy), Çärjew (Turkmenabat) and Kerki, and Mary and Kushka (Serhetabat). The primary west–east motor route is the M37 highway linking the Turkmenbashy International Seaport to the Farap border crossing via Ashgabat, Mary, and Turkmenabat. The primary north–south route is the Ashgabat-Dashoguz Automobile Road ( tk, Aşgabat-Daşoguz awtomobil ýoly), built in the 2000s. Major international routes include European route E003, European route E60, European route E121, and Asian Highway (AH) routes AH5, AH70, AH75, AH77, and AH78. A new toll motorway is under construction between Ashgabat and Turkmenabat by "Turkmen Awtoban" company, which will construct the 600-km highway in three phases: Ashgabat-Tejen by December 2020, Tejen-Mary by December 2022 and Mary-Turkmenabat by December 2023. A sister project to link Türkmenbaşy and Ashgabat was suspended when the Turkish contractor, Polimeks, walked away from the project, reportedly because of non-payment. As of 29 January 2019, the Turkmen Automobile Roads state concern ( tk, Türkmenawtoýollary) was subordinated by presidential decree to the Ministry of Construction and Architecture, and responsibility for road construction and maintenance was shifted to provincial and municipal governments. Operation of motor coaches (buses) and taxicabs is the responsibility of the Automobile Services Agency ( tk, Türkmenawtoulaglary Agentligi) of the Ministry of Industry and Communication.


Air transport

Air service began in 1927 with a route between Çärjew (Turkmenabat) and Tashauz (Dashoguz), flying German Junkers 13 and Soviet K-4 aircraft, each capable of carrying four passengers. In 1932 an aerodrome was built in Ashgabat on the site of the current Howdan neighborhoods, for both passenger and freight service, the latter mainly to deliver supplies to sulfur mines near Derweze in the Karakum Desert. Airports serving the major cities of Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat, and Türkmenbaşy, which are operated by Turkmenistan's civil aviation authority's airline, Türkmenhowaýollary, feature scheduled domestic commercial air service. Under normal circumstances international scheduled commercial air service is limited to Ashgabat. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, international flights take off from and land at Turkmenabat, where quarantine facilities have been established. State-owned Turkmenistan Airlines is the only Turkmen air carrier. Turkmenistan Airlines' passenger fleet is composed of
Boeing The Boeing Company () is an American multinational corporation A multinational company (MNC), also referred to as a multinational enterprise (MNE), a transnational enterprise (TNE), a transnational corporation (TNC), an international corporat ...
and Bombardier Aerospace aircraft. Air transport carries more than two thousand passengers daily in the country. Under normal conditions, international flights annually transport over half a million people into and out of Turkmenistan, and Turkmenistan Air operates regular flights to
Moscow Moscow ( , American English, US chiefly ; rus, links=no, Москва, r=Moskva, p=mɐskˈva, a=Москва.ogg) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Russia by population, largest city of Russia. The city stands on t ...
,
London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a ma ...
,
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: , "Frank Frank or Franks may refer to: People * Frank (given name) * Frank (surname) * Franks (surname) * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples w ...
,
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands in England. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1. ...
,
Bangkok Bangkok, officially known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon and colloquially as Krung Thep, is the capital and most populous city of Thailand Thailand ( ), historically known as Siam () and officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a c ...
,
Delhi Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, is a city and a union territory of India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, ...
,
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi (, ; ar, أَبُو ظَبْيٍ ' ) is the capital and second-most populous city (after Dubai) of the United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, اَلْإِمَارَات الْعَرَبِيَة الْم ...
, Amritsar,
Kyiv Kyiv, also spelled Kiev, is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine. It is in north-central Ukraine along the Dnieper, Dnieper River. As of 1 January 2021, its population was 2,962,180, making Kyiv the List of European cities by populat ...
,
Lviv Lviv ( uk, Львів) is the largest city in western Ukraine, and the seventh-largest in Ukraine, with a population of . It serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast Lviv Oblast ( uk, Льві́вська о́бласть, transli ...
,
Beijing } Beijing ( ; ; ), alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the capital of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous countr ...
,
Istanbul Istanbul ( , ; tr, İstanbul ), formerly known as Constantinople ( grc-gre, Κωνσταντινούπολις; la, Constantinopolis), is the List of largest cities and towns in Turkey, largest city in Turkey, serving as the country's economic, ...
,
Minsk Minsk ( be, Мінск ; russian: Минск) is the capital and the largest city of Belarus Belarus,, , ; alternatively and formerly known as Byelorussia (from Russian ). officially the Republic of Belarus,; rus, Республика Б ...
,
Almaty Almaty (; kk, Алматы; ), formerly known as Alma-Ata ( kk, Алма-Ата), is the largest city in Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country lo ...
,
Tashkent Tashkent (, uz, Toshkent, Тошкент/, ) (from russian: Ташкент), or Toshkent (; ), also historically known as Chach is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Уз ...
, and St. Petersburg. Small airfields serve industrial sites near other cities, but do not feature scheduled commercial passenger service. Airfields slated for modernization and expansion include those serving Garabogaz, Jebel, and Galaýmor. The new Turkmenabat International Airport was commissioned in February 2018. In June 2021, an international airport was opened in Kerki.


Maritime transport

Since 1962, the Turkmenbashy International Seaport has operated a passenger ferry to the port of Baku,
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan, , also sometimes officially called the Azerbaijan Republic is a transcontinental country, transcontinental country located at the boundary of Eastern Europe and Wester ...
as well as rail ferries to other ports on the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia; east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central ...
(Baku,
Aktau Aktau ( kk, Aqtau, Ақтау , russian: Актау) is a city in Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country located mainly in Central Asia and partly in E ...
). In recent years tanker transport of oil to the ports of Baku and Makhachkala has increased. In May 2018 construction was completed of a major expansion of the Turkmenbashy seaport. Cost of the project was $1.5 billion. The general contractor for the project was Gap Inşaat, a subsidiary of Çalık Holding of Turkey. The expansion added 17 million tons of annual capacity, making total throughput including previously existing facilities of over 25 million tons per year. The international ferry and passenger terminals will be able to serve 300,000 passengers and 75,000 vehicles per year, and the container terminal is designed to handle 400,000 TEU (20-foot container equivalent) per year.


Railway transport

The first rail line in Turkmenistan was built in 1880, from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea to Mollagara. By October 1881 the line was extended to Kyzyl-Arvat, by 1886 had reached Çärjew. In 1887 a wooden rail bridge was built over the
Amu Darya The Amu Darya, tk, Amyderýa/ uz, Amudaryo// tg, Амударё, Amudaryo ps, , tr, Ceyhun / Amu Derya grc, Ὦξος, Ôxos (also called the Amu, Amo River and historically known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language b ...
, and the line was continued to
Samarkand fa, سمرقند , native_name_lang = , settlement_type = City , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from the top: Registan square, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, view inside Shah-i-Zi ...
(1888) and
Tashkent Tashkent (, uz, Toshkent, Тошкент/, ) (from russian: Ташкент), or Toshkent (; ), also historically known as Chach is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Уз ...
(1898). Rail service in Turkmenistan began as part of Imperial Russia's Trans-Caspian Railway, then of the Central Asian Railway. After the
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
, the railway network in Turkmenistan was transferred to and operated by the state-owned Türkmendemirýollary. The rail gauge is the same as the Russian (and former Soviet) one-1520 millimeters. The total length of railways is 3181 km. Only domestic passenger service is available, except for special trains operated by tour operators. The railway carries approximately 5.5 million passengers and moves nearly 24 million tons of freight per year. Turkmen Railways is currently constructing a rail line in Afghanistan to connect Serhetabat to Herat. Upon completion, it may connect to the proposed rail line to connect Herat to Khaf,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆما ...
.


Demographics

The last census to be published was held in 1995. Results of every census since then have been kept secret. Available figures indicate that most of Turkmenistan's citizens are ethnic Turkmens with sizeable minorities of Uzbeks and
Russians , native_name_lang = ru , image = , caption = , population = , popplace = 118 million Russians in the Russian Federation (2002 '' Winkler Prins'' estimate) , region1 = , pop1 ...
. Smaller minorities include Kazakhs,
Tatars The Tatars ()Tatar
in the Collins English Dictionary
is an umbrella term for different
,
Ukrainians Ukrainians ( uk, Українці, Ukraintsi, ) are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest European country after Russia ...
,
Kurds ug:كۇردلار Kurds ( ku, کورد ,Kurd, italic=yes, rtl=yes) or Kurdish people are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people A person ( : people) is a being that has certain capacities or a ...
(native to the Kopet Dagh mountains),
Armenians Armenians ( hy, հայեր, '' hayer'' ) are an ethnic group native to the Armenian highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the main population of Armenia and the ''de facto'' independent Artsakh. There is a wide-ranging diasp ...
, Azeris, Balochs and
Pashtuns Pashtuns (, , ; ps, پښتانه, ), also known as Pakhtuns or Pathans, are an Iranian ethnic group who are native to the geographic region of Pashtunistan in the present-day countries of Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the I ...
. The percentage of ethnic Russians in Turkmenistan dropped from 18.6% in 1939 to 9.5% in 1989. The ''CIA World Factbook'' estimated the ethnic composition of Turkmenistan in 2003 as 85% Turkmen, 5% Uzbek, 4% Russian and 6% other. According to official data announced in Ashgabat , 91% of the population were Turkmen, 3% were Uzbeks and 2% were Russians. Between 1989 and 2001 the number of Turkmen in Turkmenistan doubled (from 2.5 to 4.9 million), while the number of Russians dropped by two-thirds (from 334,000 to slightly over 100,000). As of 2021, the number of Russians in Turkmenistan was estimated at 100,000. Opposition media reported that some results of the 2012 census had been surreptitiously released, including a total population number of 4,751,120. According to this source, as of 2012 85.6% of the population was ethnically Turkmen, followed by 5.8% ethnic Uzbek and 5.1% ethnic Russian. In contrast, an official Turkmen delegation reported to the UN in January 2015 some different figures on national minorities, including slightly under 9% ethnic Uzbek, 2.2% ethnic Russian, and 0.4% ethnic Kazakh. The 2012 census reportedly counted 58 different nationalities. Official population estimates of 6.2 million are likely too high, given known emigration trends. Population growth has been offset by emigration in search of permanent employment. In July 2021 opposition media reported, based on three independent anonymous sources, that the population of Turkmenistan was between 2.7 and 2.8 million. A once-in-a-decade national census will be taken in the year 2022 and will determine the size of the country's population.


Migration

Based on data from receiving countries, MeteoZhurnal estimated that at least 102,346 Turkmenistani citizens emigrated abroad in 2019, 78% of them to Turkey, and 24,206 apparently returned home, for net migration of 77,014. According to leaked results of a 2018 survey, between 2008 and 2018 1,879,413 Turkmenistani citizens emigrated permanently out of an estimated base population of 5.4 million.


Turkmen tribes

The tribal nature of Turkmen society is well documented. The major modern Turkmen tribes are Teke, Yomut, Ersari, Chowdur, Gokleng and Saryk. The most numerous are the Teke.


Languages

Turkmen is the
official language An official language is a language given supreme status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary, ...
of Turkmenistan (per the 1992 Constitution). Since the late 20th century, the government of Turkmenistan has taken steps to distance itself from the Russian language (which has been seen as a soft power tool for Russian interests). The first step in this campaign was the shift to the Latin alphabet in 1993, and Russian lost its status as the ''language of inter-ethnic communication'' in 1996. As of 1999 Turkmen was spoken by 72% of the population, Russian by 12% (349,000), Uzbek by 9% (317,000), and other languages by 7% ( Kazakh (88,000),
Tatar The Tatars ()Tatar
in the Collins English Dictionary
is an umbrella term for different
(40,400), Ukrainian (37,118), Azerbaijani (33,000), Armenian (32,000), Northern Kurdish (20,000), Lezgian (10,400), Persian (8,000), Belarusian (5,290), Erzya (3,490), Korean (3,490), Bashkir (2,610), Karakalpak (2,540), Ossetic (1,890), Dargwa (1,600), Lak (1,590), Tajik (1,280), Georgian (1,050), Lithuanian (224), Tabasaran (180), and Dungan.


Religion

According to the
CIA World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, ...
,
Muslims Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be th ...
constitute 93% of the population while 6% of the population are followers of the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops vi ...
and the remaining 1% religion is reported as ''non-religious.'' According to a 2009
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic Demography () is the statist ...
report, 93.1% of Turkmenistan's population is Muslim. The first migrants were sent as
missionaries A missionary is a member of a Religious denomination, religious group which is sent into an area in order to promote its faith or provide services to people, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.Tho ...
and often were adopted as patriarchs of particular clans or tribal groups, thereby becoming their "founders." Reformulation of communal identity around such figures accounts for one of the highly localized developments of Islamic practice in Turkmenistan. In the Soviet era, all religious beliefs were attacked by the communist authorities as superstition and "vestiges of the past." Most religious schooling and religious observance were banned, and the vast majority of mosques were closed. However, since 1990, efforts have been made to regain some of the cultural heritage lost under Soviet rule. Former president Saparmurat Niyazov ordered that basic Islamic principles be taught in public schools. More religious institutions, including religious schools and mosques, have appeared, many with the support of
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
,
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of ...
, and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula ...
. Under Niyazov, religious classes were held in both schools and mosques, with instruction in
Arabic language Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walte ...
, the
Qur'an The Quran (, ; Standard Arabic: , Quranic Arabic: , , 'the recitation'), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion cent ...
and the
hadith Ḥadīth ( or ; ar, حديث, , , , , , , literally "talk" or "discourse") or Athar ( ar, أثر, , literally "remnant"/"effect") refers to what the majority of Muslims Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to I ...
, and history of Islam. At present, the only educational institution teaching religion is the theological faculty of Turkmen State University. President Niyazov wrote his own religious text, published in separate volumes in 2001 and 2004, entitled the '' Ruhnama'' ("Book of the Soul"). The Turkmenbashy regime required that the book, which formed the basis of the educational system in Turkmenistan, be given equal status with the Quran (mosques were required to display the two books side by side). The book was heavily promoted as part of the former president's personality cult, and knowledge of the ''Ruhnama'' was required even for obtaining a driver's license. Quotations from the ''Ruhnama'' are inscribed on the walls of the Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque, which many Muslims consider sacrilege. Most Christians in Turkmenistan belong to
Eastern Orthodoxy Eastern Orthodoxy, also known as Eastern Orthodox Christianity, is one of the three main branches of Chalcedonian Christianity, alongside Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Chris ...
(about 5% of the population). There are 12 Russian Orthodox churches in Turkmenistan, four of which are in Ashgabat. An archpriest resident in Ashgabat leads the Orthodox Church within the country. Until 2007 Turkmenistan fell under the religious jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox archbishop in
Tashkent Tashkent (, uz, Toshkent, Тошкент/, ) (from russian: Ташкент), or Toshkent (; ), also historically known as Chach is the capital and largest city of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Уз ...
,
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, italic=yes / , ; russian: Узбекистан), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi, italic=yes / ; russian: Республика Узбекистан), is a doubly landlocked co ...
, but since then has been subordinate to the Archbishop of
Pyatigorsk Pyatigorsk (russian: Пятиго́рск; Circassian: Псыхуабэ, ''Psıxwabæ'') is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Ku ...
and Cherkessia. There are no Russian Orthodox
seminaries A seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, or divinity school is an educational institution for educating students (sometimes called ''seminarians'') in scripture Religious texts, including scripture, are texts which various r ...
in Turkmenistan. There are also small communities of the following denominations: the Armenian Apostolic Church, the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Baptism (from grc-x-koine, βάπτισμα, váptisma) is a form of ritual purification—a character ...
, Pentecostal Christians, the Protestant Word of Life Church, the Greater Grace World Outreach Church, the
New Apostolic Church The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a Christian church that split from the Catholic Apostolic Church during an 1863 schism in Hamburg, Germany Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hans ...
, Jehovah's Witnesses,
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture an ...
, and several unaffiliated, nondenominational evangelical Christian groups. In addition, there are small communities of Baháʼís, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Hare Krishnas. The history of Baháʼí Faith in Turkmenistan is as old as the religion itself, and Baháʼí communities still exist today. The first Baháʼí House of Worship was built in Ashgabat at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was seized by the Soviets in the 1920s and converted to an art gallery. It was heavily damaged in the earthquake of 1948 and later demolished. The site was converted to a public park. The Russian Academy of Sciences has identified many instances of syncretic influence of pre-Islamic Turkic belief systems on practice of Islam among Turkmen.


Culture

The Turkmen people have traditionally been
nomad A nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads (owning livestock Livestock are the domesticated animals raised in an agr ...
s and equestrians, and even today after the fall of the
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nati ...
attempts to urbanize the Turkmens have not been very successful. They never really formed a coherent nation or ethnic group until they were forged into one by
Joseph Stalin Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power as General Secret ...
in the 1930s. Rather they are divided into clans, and each clan has its own dialect and style of dress. Turkmens are famous for making '' knotted Turkmen carpets'', often mistakenly called '' Bukhara rugs'' in the West. These are elaborate and colorful hand-knotted carpets, and these too help indicate the distinctions among the various Turkmen clans. Ethnic groups throughout the region build
yurt A yurt (from the Turkic languages) or ger ( Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered and insulated with skins or felt and traditionally used as a dwelling by several distinct nomadic groups in the steppes and mountains of Central A ...
s, circular houses with dome roofs, made of a wooden frame covered in felt from the hides of sheep or other livestock. Horses are an essential ingredient of recreational activities in most of the region, in such games as horseback fighting, in which riders grapple to topple each other from their horses; horse racing. Turkmen men wear traditional ''telpek'' hats, which are large black or white
sheepskin Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus '' Ovis'', in everyday usage i ...
hats. Traditional dress for men consists of these high, shaggy sheepskin hats and red robes over white shirts. Women wear long sack-dresses over narrow trousers (the pants are trimmed with a band of embroidery at the ankle). Female headdresses usually consist of silver jewelry. Bracelets and brooches are set with semi-precious stones.


Mass media

Newspapers and monthly magazines are published by state-controlled media outlets, primarily in Turkmen. The daily official newspaper is published in both Turkmen (''Türkmenistan'') and Russian (''Нейтральный Туркменистан''). Two online news portals repeat official content, Turkmenportal and Parahat.info, in addition to the official "Golden Age" ( tk, Altyn Asyr, russian: Золотой век) news website, which is available in Turkmen, Russian, and English. Two Ashgabat-based private news organizations, Infoabad and Arzuw, offer online content. Articles published by the state-controlled newspapers are heavily censored and written to glorify the state and its leader. Uncensored press coverage specific to Turkmenistan is provided only by news organizations located outside Turkmenistan: Azatlyk Radiosy, the Turkmen service of
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 ...
based in
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or simply Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Historically known as Bohemia, it is bo ...
; Chronicles of Turkmenistan, the Vienna-based outlet of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights; Turkmen.news, previously known as Alternative News of Turkmenistan, based in the Netherlands; and Gündogar. In addition, Mediazona Central Asia, Eurasianet and Central Asia News provide some reporting on events in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan currently broadcasts 7 national TV channels via satellite. They are Altyn Asyr, Ýaşlyk,
Miras Miras is a village and a former municipality in the Korçë County, southeastern Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or ), or , also or . officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Eur ...
, Turkmenistan (in 7 languages), Türkmen Owazy (music), Aşgabat and Turkmenistan Sport. There are no commercial or private TV stations. The nightly official news broadcast, ''Watan'' (Homeland), is available on
YouTube YouTube is a global online video sharing and social media platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. It was launched on February 14, 2005, by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. It is owned by Google, and is the second mo ...
. Although officially banned, widespread use of satellite dish receivers allows access to foreign programming, particularly outside Ashgabat. Due to the high mutual intelligibility of the Turkmen and
Turkish language Turkish ( , ), also referred to as Turkish of Turkey (''Türkiye Türkçesi''), is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around 80 to 90 million speakers. It is the national language of Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), of ...
s, Turkish-language programs have grown in popularity despite official efforts to discourage viewership. Internet services are the least developed in Central Asia. Access to Internet services is provided by the government's ISP company, Turkmentelekom. As of 27 January 2021, Turkmenistan reported an estimated 1,265,794 internet users or roughly 21% of the total population.


Holidays

Holidays in Turkmenistan are laid out in the Constitution of Turkmenistan. Holidays in Turkmenistan practiced internationally include
New Year's Day New Year's Day is a festival observed in most of the world on 1 January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most parts of the world. It was introduced in October 1 ...
, Nowruz, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha. Turkmenistan exclusive holidays include Melon Day, Turkmen Woman's Day, and the Day of Remembrance for Saparmurat Niyazov.


Education

Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level. Under former President Niyazov, the total duration of primary and secondary education was reduced from 10 to 9 years. President Berdimuhamedov restored 10-year education as of the 2007–2008 school year. Effective 2013, general education in Turkmenistan was expanded to three-stages lasting 12 years: elementary school (grades 1–3), high school – the first cycle of secondary education with duration of 5 years (grades 4–8), and secondary school (grades 9–12). At the end of the 2019–20 academic year, nearly 80,000 Turkmen pupils graduated from high school. As of the 2019–20 academic year, 12,242 of these students were admitted to institutions of higher education in Turkmenistan. An additional 9,063 were admitted to the country's 42 vocational colleges. An estimated 95,000 Turkmen students were enrolled in institutions of higher education abroad as of Autumn 2019.


Architecture

The tasks for modern Turkmen architecture are diverse application of modern aesthetics, the search for an architect's own artistic style, and inclusion of the existing historico-cultural environment. Most major new buildings, especially those in Ashgabat, are faced with white
marble Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or Dolomite (mineral), dolomite. Marble is typically not Foliation (geology), foliated (layered), although there are exceptions. In geology, the ...
. Major projects such as Turkmenistan Tower, Bagt köşgi, Alem Cultural and Entertainment Center, Ashgabat Flagpole have transformed the country's skyline and promote its identity as a modern, contemporary city.


Sports

The most popular sport in Turkmenistan is
football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word ''football'' normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonl ...
. The national team has never qualified for the
FIFA World Cup The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players who primarily us ...
but has appeared twice at the
AFC Asian Cup The AFC Asian Cup is the primary association football Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players who primarily use their feet to propel the ball around a recta ...
, in 2004 and 2019, failing to advance past the group stage at both editions. Another popular sport is
archery Archery is the sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot In botany, a plant shoot consists of any plant stem together with its appendages, leaves and lateral buds, flowering stems, and flower buds. The new growth from se ...
, Turkmenistan holds league and local competitions for archery. International sports events hosted in Turkmenistan include; the 2021 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, and the 2018 World Weightlifting Championships.


See also

* Outline of Turkmenistan * Index of Turkmenistan-related articles


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


"Turkmenistan"
''
The World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gathering, processing, ...
.
Modern Turkmenistan photos


at ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *
Turkmenistan profile
from the
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs in the UK and around the world. The department is the world's largest broad ...
*
OpenStreetMap online atlas of Turkmenistan

OpenStreetMap wiki article on Turkmenistan
*
Key Development Forecasts for Turkmenistan
from International Futures ; Government
Turkmenistan government information portal



Tourism Committee of Turkmenistan
; Other
"Chronicles of Turkmenistan". Publication of Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights.

Official photo gallery from Turkmenistan and Ashgabat

daily news and analysis in Turkish English and Turkmen
{{Authority control Turkmenistan Central Asian countries Iranian Plateau Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of the United Nations Russian-speaking countries and territories States and territories established in 1991 Totalitarian states 1991 establishments in Asia Members of the International Organization of Turkic Culture Turkic states Observer states of the Organization of Turkic States