Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

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Turkmenistan formerly also known as Turkmenia (Туркмения) is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states. It is bordered by Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 to the southeast, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to the south and southwest, Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 to the east and northeast, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 to the north and northwest and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 to the west.

Turkmenistan's GDP growth rate of 11% in 2010 ranks 4th in the world, but these figures are subject to wide margins of error. It possesses the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources. Although it is wealthy in natural resources in certain areas, most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert
Karakum Desert
The Karakum Desert, also spelled Kara-Kum and Gara Gum is a desert in Central Asia. It occupies about 70 percent, or 350,000 km², of the area of Turkmenistan....

.

The Turkmen government operates as a single-party system
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

. Turkmenistan was ruled by President for Life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....

 Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; , was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006...

 (called "Türkmenbaşy" — "leader of the Turkmens") until his sudden death on 21 December 2006. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was elected the new president on 11 February 2007.

History



The territory of Turkmenistan has a long and checkered history, as armies from one empire after another decamped there on their way to more prosperous territories. The region's written history begins with its conquest by the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 of ancient Persia, as the region was divided between the satrapies of Margiana, Khorezm and Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

.

Alexander the Great conquered the territory in the 4th century BC on his way to Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, around the time that the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 was established as a major trading route between Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Mediterranean Region.

Approximately 80 years later, Persia's Parthian Kingdom established its capital in Nisa
Nisa, Turkmenistan
Nisa was an ancient city, located near modern-day Bagir village, 18 km northwest of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.Nisa is described by some as one of the first capitals of the Parthians. It was traditionally founded by Arsaces I Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient city, located near modern-day...

, now in the suburbs of the capital, Ashgabat. After replacement of the Parthian empire by Persian Sassanids, another native Iranian dynasty, the region remained territory of the Persian empire for several centuries.

In the 7th century AD, Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s conquered this region, introducing Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. The Turkmenistan region soon came to be known as the capital of Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

, when the caliph Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
Abū Jaʿfar Abdullāh al-Māʾmūn ibn Harūn was an Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813 until his death in 833...

 moved his capital to Merv
Merv
Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

.


In the middle of the 11th century, the Turkoman-ruled
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

 Seljuk Empire
Seljuq dynasty
The Seljuq ; were a Turco-Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries...

 concentrated its strength in the territory of modern Turkmenistan in an attempt to expand into Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 (modern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

). The empire broke down in the second half of the 12th century, and the Turkmen lost their independence when Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 took control of the eastern Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 region on his march west.

For the next seven centuries, the Turkmen people lived under various empires and fought constant inter-tribal wars. Little is documented of Turkmen history prior to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n engagement. However, from the 13th to the 16th centuries, Turkmen formed a distinct ethnolinguistic group. As the Turkmen migrated from the area around the Mangyshlak Peninsula
Mangyshlak Peninsula
Mangyshlak or Mangghyshlaq Peninsula is located in westernKazakhstan. It borders on the Caspian Sea in the north and west.Administratively, the peninsula is in Kazakhstan's Mangystau Province. The largest city,and the capital of the province,...

 in contemporary Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 toward the Iranian border region and the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 basin, tribal Turkmen society further developed cultural traditions that became the foundation of Turkmen national consciousness.

Between the 17th and 19th centuries, control of Turkmenistan was fought over by Persian Shahs, Khiva
Khanate of Khiva
The Khanate of Khiva was the name of a Uzbek state that existed in the historical region of Khwarezm from 1511 to 1920, except for a period of Persian occupation by Nadir Shah between 1740–1746. It was the patrilineal descendants of Shayban , the fifth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan...

n Khans, the Emirs of Bukhara
Emirate of Bukhara
The Emirate of Bukhara was a Central Asian state that existed from 1785 to 1920. It occupied the land between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, known formerly as Transoxiana. Its core territory was the land along the lower Zarafshan River, and its urban centres were the ancient cities of...

 and the rulers of Afghanistan. During this period, Turkmen spiritual leader Magtymguly Pyragy
Magtymguly Pyragy
Magtymguly Pyragy was a Turkmen spiritual leader and philosophical poet who made significant efforts to secure independence and autonomy for his people in the 18th century....

 reached prominence with his efforts to secure independence and autonomy for his people.

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. The neighboring rural villages of Persia and Afghanistan were the main victims of Turkmen raids, in which groups of armed men on horseback would carry away captives to be sold in the slave markets of Khiva, Bukhara, and Mari
Mary, Turkmenistan
Mary is the capital city of Mary Province in Turkmenistan. Former names include Merv, Meru and Margiana. It is located at . The city is an oasis in the Karakum Desert, located on the Murghab river. In 2009, Mary had a population of 123,000 , up from 92,000 in the 1989 census.-History:The ancient...

."

At this time, the vast territory of Central Asia including the region of Turkmenistan was largely unmapped and virtually unknown to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. Rivalry for control of the area between the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and Tsarist Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 was characterized as The Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

. Throughout their conquest of Central Asia, the Russians were met with the stiffest resistance by the Turkmen. By 1894, however, Russia had gained control of Turkmenistan and incorporated it into its empire.

Soviet Union


The rivalry officially concluded with the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907
Anglo-Russian Entente
Signed on August 31, 1907, in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 brought shaky British-Russian relations to the forefront by solidifying boundaries that identified respective control in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet...

. Slowly, Russian and European cultures were introduced to the area. This was evident in the architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 of the newly formed city of Ashgabat, which became the capital. The October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917 in Russia and the subsequent political unrest led to the declaration of the area as the Turkmen SSR
Turkmen SSR
The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Turkmen SSR for short, was one of republics of the Soviet Union in Central Asia. It was initially established on 7 August 1921 as the Turkmen Oblast of the Turkestan ASSR. On 13 May 1925 it was transformed into Turkmen SSR and became a...

, one of the six republics
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

 of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1924, assuming the borders of modern Turkmenistan.
The new Turkmen SSR went through a process of further Europeanization. The tribal
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

 Turkmen people
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

 were encouraged to become secular and adopt European-style clothing. The alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

 in use for the Turkmen language
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

 was changed from the traditional Arabic script
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

 to Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 and finally to Cyrillic (Niyazov later changed the alphabet back to a Latin-based one). However, bringing the Turkmens to abandon their previous nomadic ways in favor of communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 was not fully embraced until as late as 1948. Nationalist organizations in the region also existed during the 1920s and the 1930s. The Ashgabat earthquake
1948 Ashgabat earthquake
The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake, at a magnitude 7.3 Mw, occurred on 6 October 1948 near Ashgabat, in the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. The earthquake is considered to be the 6th deadliest earthquake in the history of humankind. Due to censorship by the national government, the Ashgabat Earthquake...

 of 1948 killed over 110,000 people, amounting to 2/3s of the city's population.
The nation policies of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, actually promoted "the invention of turkmen tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

s". Turkmen was enjoying preferable treatment in the Soviet administration and educational system and during the Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 years the republic had become more national in form; Turkmen became the official language for example.

Independence


When the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 began to collapse, Turkmenistan and the rest of the Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

n republics first heavily favored maintaining a reformed version of the state, mainly because they needed the economic power and common markets of the Soviet Union to prosper. Nevertheless, Turkmenistan declared independence on 27 October 1991, albeit one of the last Soviet republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

s to secede. Turkmenistan gained official recognition on 25 December 1991, a day before the final dissolution of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan joined the U.N. the following year.

In 1991, Turkmenistan became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

, an international organization of former Soviet republics. However, Turkmenistan reduced its status in the organization to "associate member" in August 2005. The reason stated by the Turkmen president was the country's policy of permanent neutrality.

The former leader of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; , was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006...

, remained in power as Turkmenistan's leader after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

. Under his post-Soviet rule, Russian-Turkmen relations greatly suffered. He styled himself as a promoter of tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

al Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 and Turkmen culture (calling himself "Türkmenbaşy", or "leader of the Turkmen people"), but he became notorious in the West for his dictatorial rule and extravagant cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

. The extent of his power greatly increased during the early 1990s, and in 1999 he became President for Life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....

.

Niyazov died unexpectedly on 21 December 2006.

In an election on 11 February 2007, Berdimuhamedow was elected president with 89% of the vote and 95% turnout. He was sworn in on 14 February 2007.

Politics



After 69 years as part of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (including 67 years as a union republic), Turkmenistan declared its independence on 27 October 1991.

President for Life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....

 Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; , was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006...

, a former bureaucrat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

, ruled Turkmenistan from 1985, when he became head of the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR
Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR
The Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR was the ruling communist party of the Turkmen SSR, and a part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From 1985 it was led by Saparmurat Niyazov, who in 1991 renamed the party to the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, which is no longer a communist party...

, until his death in 2006. He retained absolute control over the country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

. On 28 December 1999, Niyazov was declared President for Life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....

 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 made tentative moves to open up the country. His successor, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, repealed some of Niyazov's most idiosyncratic policies, including banning opera and the circus for being "insufficiently Turkmen". In education, Berdimuhamedow's government had increased basic education to ten years from nine years, and higher education had been extended from four years to five. He has also increased contacts with the West, which is eager for access to the country's natural gas riches - but fears were mounting that the government would revert to Niyazov's draconian style of rule.

The politics of Turkmenistan take place in the framework of a presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, with the President
President of Turkmenistan
-First Secretaries of the Turkmen Communist Party:*Ivan Mezhlauk *Shaymardan Ibragimov *Nikolay Paskutsky *Grigory Aronshtam...

 both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

. Under Niyazov, Turkmenistan had a single-party system
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

; however, in September 2008, the People's Council unanimously passed a resolution adopting a new Constitution
Constitution of Turkmenistan
The Constitution of Turkmenistan adopted on 18 May 1992 is the supreme law of Turkmenistan . In its preamble, the Constitution emphasizes self-determination for the Turkmen people, as well as the rule of law and rights for citizens. .The 1992 constitution was amended in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2006...

. The latter resulted in the abolition of the Council and a significant increase in the size of Parliament in December 2008. The new Constitution also permits the formation of multiple political parties.

The former Communist Party, now known as the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan
The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan is the only political party in Turkmenistan. The DPT was led by former Soviet provincial Party leader Saparmurat Niyazov from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s until his death in 2006...

, has been the only one effectively permitted to operate. Political gatherings are illegal unless government sanctioned.

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 remain 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
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

, an ethnic minority. The same happens to Uzbeks, though the Uzbek language
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

 used to be taught in some national schools.

According to Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

' 2006 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan had the 3rd worst press freedom conditions in the world, behind North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and Burma. 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.

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
Constitution of Turkmenistan
The Constitution of Turkmenistan adopted on 18 May 1992 is the supreme law of Turkmenistan . In its preamble, the Constitution emphasizes self-determination for the Turkmen people, as well as the rule of law and rights for citizens. .The 1992 constitution was amended in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2006...

 (Article 16 in the 2008 Constitution, Article 47 in the 1992 Constitution), some cities may have the status of welaýat (province) or etrap (district).
Division ISO 3166-2
ISO 3166-2
ISO 3166-2 is part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization , and defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1...

 
Capital city Area Pop (2005) Key
Ashgabat City Ashgabat  470 km² (181.5 sq mi) 871,500
Ahal Province
Ahal Province
Ahal Province is one of the welayat of Turkmenistan. It is in the south-center of the country, bordering Iran and Afghanistan along the Kopet Dag Range. Its area is and population 939,700...

TM-A Anau
Anau
Anau , Turkmenistan, capital of Ahal Province, is a city 8 kilometers southeast of Ashgabat which is connected via the M37 highway. Traces of habitation in the area date back to 3000 B.C....

 
97160 km² (37,513.7 sq mi) 939,700 1
Balkan Province
Balkan Province
Balkan Province is one of the Welayat of Turkmenistan. It is in the far west of the country, bordering Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, and Iran. Its capital is Balkanabat, formerly known as Nebit Dag. It has an area of 139,270 square kilometers and a population of approximately 553,500...

TM-B Balkanabat
Balkanabat
Balkanabat , formerly Nebit Dag, is a city in western Turkmenistan, and the capital of Balkan Province. It is located at , at an altitude of 17 meters, some 400 kilometers from Ashgabat. As of 2006, the city had an estimated population of 87,822. Balkanabat lies at the foot of the Balkan...

 
139270 km² (53,772.4 sq mi) 553,500 2
Daşoguz Province TM-D Daşoguz
Dasoguz
Daşoguz , formerly known as Tashauz , is a city in northern Turkmenistan and the capital of Daşoguz Province.-Geography:...

 
73430 km² (28,351.5 sq mi) 1,370,400 3
Lebap Province
Lebap Province
Lebap Province is one of the provinces of Turkmenistan. It is in the northeast of the country, bordering Uzbekistan along the Amu Darya. Its capital is Türkmenabat...

TM-L Türkmenabat
Türkmenabat
Türkmenabat , formerly and since the medieval times, Chardzhou , also spelled Çärjew, Chardjui, Charjou, Chardzhev, Charjev, Chärjew, or Charjew , ancient Amul, is a town in Turkmenistan, capital of Lebap Province...

 
93730 km² (36,189.4 sq mi) 1,334,500 4
Mary Province
Mary Province
Mary Province is one of the welayatlar of Turkmenistan. It is in the south-east of the country, bordering Afghanistan. Its capital is the city of Mary. Its area is and population 1,480,400...

TM-M Mary
Mary, Turkmenistan
Mary is the capital city of Mary Province in Turkmenistan. Former names include Merv, Meru and Margiana. It is located at . The city is an oasis in the Karakum Desert, located on the Murghab river. In 2009, Mary had a population of 123,000 , up from 92,000 in the 1989 census.-History:The ancient...

 
87150 km² (33,648.8 sq mi) 1,480,400 5

Climate



It is one of the driest deserts in the world, some places have an average annual precipitation of only 12 mm (0.47244094488189 in). The highest temperature recorded in Ashgabat is 48 °C (118.4 °F) and Kerki
Kerki
Kerki is a town in eastern Turkmenistan. It is located in Lebap Province.Nearby towns and villages include Atamyrat , Mukry , Amyderya , Surkhi and Kiikchi .....

, an extreme inland city located on the banks of the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 river, recorded 51.7 °C (125.1 °F) in July 1983, although this value is unofficial. 50.1C is the highest temperature recorded at Repetek Reserve, recognized as the highest temperature ever recorded in the whole former Soviet Union.

Geography




At 488100 km² (188,456.5 sq mi), Turkmenistan is the world's 52nd-largest country. It is slightly smaller than Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and somewhat larger than the US state of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. It lies between latitudes 35°
35th parallel north
The 35th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 35 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 43° N
43rd parallel north
The 43rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 43 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 52°
52nd meridian east
The meridian 52° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 67° E
67th meridian east
The meridian 67° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert
Karakum Desert
The Karakum Desert, also spelled Kara-Kum and Gara Gum is a desert in Central Asia. It occupies about 70 percent, or 350,000 km², of the area of Turkmenistan....

. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression
Turan Depression
The Turan Depression, Turan Lowland or Turanian Basin is a low-lying desert basin region stretching from southern Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan. The lowland region lies to the east of the Caspian Sea and southeast of the Aral Sea in the vast Aral–Caspian Depression but extends to...

 and the Karakum Desert. The Kopet Dag
Kopet Dag
The Kopet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh , also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range is a mountain range on the frontier between Turkmenistan and Iran, extending about 650 km along the border, east of the Caspian Sea. The highest peak of the range in Turkmenistan is southwest of the...

 Range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

, along the southwestern border, reaches 2,912 meters (9,553 ft) at Kuh-e Rizeh (Mount Rizeh).

The Great Balkhan Range in the west of the country (Balkan Province
Balkan Province
Balkan Province is one of the Welayat of Turkmenistan. It is in the far west of the country, bordering Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, and Iran. Its capital is Balkanabat, formerly known as Nebit Dag. It has an area of 139,270 square kilometers and a population of approximately 553,500...

) and the Köýtendag Range on the southeastern border with Uzbekistan (Lebap Province
Lebap Province
Lebap Province is one of the provinces of Turkmenistan. It is in the northeast of the country, bordering Uzbekistan along the Amu Darya. Its capital is Türkmenabat...

) are the only other significant elevations. The Great Balkhan Range rises to 1880 metres (6,168 ft) at Mount Arlan and the highest summit in Turkmenistan is Ayrybaba
Aýrybaba
Aýrybaba is a mountain in Central Asia. At Aýrybaba is the highest mountain in Turkmenistan. It is located in the Köýtendag Range of the Pamir-Alay chain in the southeast of Turkmenistan on the Uzbekistan border....

 in the Kugitangtau Range – 3137 metres (10,292 ft). Rivers include the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

, the Murghab, and the Tejen.

The climate is mostly arid subtropical
Subtropics
The subtropics are the geographical and climatical zone of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropical zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitudes 23.5°N and 23.5°S...

 desert, with little rainfall. Winters are mild and dry, with most precipitation falling between January and May. The area of the country with the heaviest precipitation is the Kopet Dag Range.

The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 is 1768 kilometres (1,098.6 mi) long. The Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 is entirely landlocked, with no access to the ocean.

The major cities include Aşgabat, Türkmenbaşy
Türkmenbasy, Turkmenistan
Türkmenbaşy , formerly known as Krasnovodsk and, more properly, Kyzyl-Su, is a city in Balkan Province in Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea. It is located at latitude 40.0231 North; longitude 52.9697 East, at an altitude of 27 meters. The population was 86,800, mostly...

 (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Daşoguz
Dasoguz
Daşoguz , formerly known as Tashauz , is a city in northern Turkmenistan and the capital of Daşoguz Province.-Geography:...

.

Economy


The country possesses the world's fourth-largest reserves of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 and substantial oil resources. In 1994, the Russian government
Politics of Russia
The politics of Russia take place in a framework of a federal semi-presidential republic. According to the Constitution of Russia, the President of Russia is head of state, and of a multi-party system with executive power exercised by the government, headed by the Prime Minister, who is appointed...

's refusal to export Turkmen gas to hard currency
Hard currency
Hard currency , in economics, refers to a globally traded currency that is expected to serve as a reliable and stable store of value...

 markets, and mounting debts of its major customers, in the former Soviet Union, for gas deliveries, contributed to a sharp fall in industrial production, and caused the budget to shift, from a surplus to a slight deficit. Half of the country's irrigated land is planted with cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, making the country the world's tenth-largest producer of it.

Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its economy. In 2004, the unemployment rate was estimated to be 60%; Privatization
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 goals remain limited.

Between 1998 and 2002, Turkmenistan suffered from the continued lack of adequate export
Export
The term export is derived from the conceptual meaning as to ship the goods and services out of the port of a country. The seller of such goods and services is referred to as an "exporter" who is based in the country of export whereas the overseas based buyer is referred to as an "importer"...

 routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

. At the same time, however, the value of total exports has risen sharply because of increases in international oil and gas prices. Economic prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and the burden of foreign debt.

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, according to a report released in April 2006 by London-based non-governmental organization Global Witness
Global Witness
Global Witness is an international NGO established in 1993 that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide. The organisation has offices in London and Washington, D.C.. Global Witness states that it does not have...

.

According to the decree of the Peoples' Council of 14 August 2003, electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 and salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 will be subsidized for citizens up to 2030; however, shortages are frequent. In addition car drivers are entitled to 120 litres of free petrol a month. Drivers of buses, lorries and tractors can get 200 litres of fuel and motorcyclists and scooter riders 40 litres free. On 5 September 2006, after Turkmenistan threatened to cut off supplies, Russia agreed to raise the price it pays for Turkmen natural gas from $65 to $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. Two-thirds of Turkmen gas goes through the Russian state-owned Gazprom
Gazprom
Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Its headquarters are in Cheryomushki District, South-Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow...

.

Natural gas and export routes


The latest study in May 2011 stated that the South lolotan gas field is now easily as the world's second-largest gas field in terms of gas-in-place. The estimated reserves at South lolotan was about 21 trillion cubic metres. The Turkmenistan Natural Gas Company (Türkmengaz
Türkmengaz
Türkmengaz is the national gas company of Turkmenistan. It is the largest gas company in Central Asia. The chairman of the company is Nury Muhammedov....

), under the auspices of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, controls gas extraction in the country. Gas production is the most dynamic and promising sector of the national economy. In 2010 Ashgabat started a policy of diversifying export routes for its raw materials. China is set to become the largest buyer of gas from Turkmenistan over the coming years as a pipeline linking the two countries, through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, reaches full capacity. In addition to supplying Russia, China and Iran, Ashgabat took concrete measures to accelerate progress in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India pipeline (TAPI). Turkmenistan has previously estimated the cost of the project at $3.3 billion.
On 21 May, president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov unexpectedly signed a decree stating that companies from Turkmenistan will build an internal East-West gas pipeline allowing the transfer of gas from the biggest deposits in Turkmenistan (Dowlatabad and Yolotan) to the Caspian coast. The East-West pipeline is planned to be around 1000 km long and have a carrying capacity of 30 bn m³ annually, at a cost of between one and one and a half billion US dollars.

Oil


Most of Turkmenistan's oil is extracted by the Turkmenistan State Company (Concern) Türkmennebit
Türkmennebit
Türkmennebit is the national oil company of Turkmenistan. It has its headquarters in Balkanabat...

 from fields at Koturdepe, Balkanabat
Balkanabat
Balkanabat , formerly Nebit Dag, is a city in western Turkmenistan, and the capital of Balkan Province. It is located at , at an altitude of 17 meters, some 400 kilometers from Ashgabat. As of 2006, the city had an estimated population of 87,822. Balkanabat lies at the foot of the Balkan...

, and Chekelen near the Caspian Sea, which have a combined estimated reserve of 700 million tons. The oil extraction industry started with the exploitation of the fields in Cheleken in 1909 (by Nobel
Nobel family
The Nobel family is a prominent Swedish family closely related to the history both of Sweden and of Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its legacy includes its outstanding contributions to philanthropy and to the development of the armament industry and of the oil industry...

 brothers) and Balkanabat in the 1930s, then production leaped ahead with the discovery of the Kumdag field in 1948 and the Koturdepe field in 1959. Big part of the oil produced in Turkmenistan is refined in Turkmenbashy and Seidi refineries. Also, oil is exported by tankers through Caspian Sea to Europe via canals.

Energy


Turkmenistan is a net exporter of electrical power to Central Asian republics and southern neighbors. The most important generating installations are 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 1992, electrical power production totaled 14.9 billion kilowatt-hours.

Agriculture


Half of the country's irrigated land is planted with cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, making the country the world's tenth-largest producer.

Demographics



Most of Turkmenistan's citizens are ethnic Turkmens
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

 with sizeable minorities of Uzbeks
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

 and Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

. Smaller minorities include Kazakhs
Kazakhs
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the northern parts of Central Asia ....

, Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

, Ukrainians
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

, Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Azeris
Azerbaijani people
The Azerbaijanis are a Turkic-speaking people living mainly in northwestern Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as in the neighbourhood states, Georgia, Russia and formerly Armenia. Commonly referred to as Azeris or Azerbaijani Turks , they also live in a wider area from the Caucasus to...

, and Balochis. The percentage of ethnic Russians dropped from 18.6% in 1939 to 9.5% in 1989.

The CIA World Factbook gives the ethnic composition of Turkmenistan as 85% Turkmen, 5% Uzbek, 4% Russian and 6% other (2003 estimates). According to data announced in Ashgabat in February 2001, 91% of the population are Turkmen, 3% are Uzbeks and 2% are 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).

Language


Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

 is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Turkmenistan (per the 1992 Constitution
Constitution of Turkmenistan
The Constitution of Turkmenistan adopted on 18 May 1992 is the supreme law of Turkmenistan . In its preamble, the Constitution emphasizes self-determination for the Turkmen people, as well as the rule of law and rights for citizens. .The 1992 constitution was amended in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2006...

), although Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 still is widely spoken in cities as a "language of inter-ethnic communication". Turkmen is spoken by 72% of the population, Russian 12%, Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

 9%, and other languages 7%.

Religion


According to the CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

, Muslims constitute 89% of the population while 9% of the population are followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and the remaining 2% religion is reported as non-religious. However, according to a 2009 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 report, 93.1% of Turkmenistan's population is Muslim. Islam came to the Turkmen primarily through missionary activities
Dawah
Da‘wah or Dawah usually denotes the preaching of Islam. Da‘wah literally means "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being the active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon" or "to invite"...

. Missionaries were holy men and they 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
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 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
Saparmurat Niyazov
Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov; , was a Turkmen politician who served as President of Turkmenistan from 2 November 1990 until his death in 2006...

 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
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. Religious classes are held in both schools and mosques, with instruction in Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and the hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

, and history of Islam.

President Niyazov wrote his own religious text, published in separate volumes in 2001 and 2004, entitled the Ruhnama
Ruhnama
Ruhnama , is a book written by Saparmurat Niyazov, late President for Life of Turkmenistan, combining spiritual/moral guidance, autobiography and revisionist history, much of it is of dubious or disputed factuality and accuracy. The text includes many stories and poems, including those by Sufi poet...

. The Turkmenbashi 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 is required even for obtaining a driver's license.

The history of Baha'i Faith in Turkmenistan is as old as the religion itself, and Baha'i communities still exist today.

Culture



Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level, the total duration of which was earlier reduced from 10 to 9 years; with the new President it has been decreed that from the 2007 - 2008 school year on, mandatory education will be for 10 years.
  • Akhal-Teke
    Akhal-Teke
    The Akhal-Teke is a horse breed from Turkmenistan, where they are a national emblem. They are noted for their speed and for endurance on long marches. These "golden-horses" are adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest surviving horse breeds...

     horse
  • Yomut carpet
    Yomut carpet
    The Yomut carpet is a type of Turkmen rug traditionally handwoven by the Yomut or Yomud, one of the major tribes of Turkmenistan. A Yomut design, along with designs of the four other major tribes, such as Ersari and Tekke, is featured on the coat of arms and the flag of Turkmenistan.-See...

  • Turkmen carpet
  • Islam in Turkmenistan
    Islam in Turkmenistan
    According to a 2009 Pew Research Center report, 93.1% of Turkmenistan's population is Muslim. Traditionally, the Turkmen of Turkmenistan, like their kin in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, are Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims, the other main branch of Islam, are not numerous in Turkmenistan, and the Shia...

  • Merv
    Merv
    Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

  • Music of Turkmenistan
    Music of Turkmenistan
    The music of the nomadic and rural Turkmen people is closely related to Kyrgyz and Kazakh folk forms. Important musical traditions in Turkmen music include traveling singers and shamans called bakshy, who act as healers and magicians and sing either a cappella or with instruments such as the...

  • Turkmen cuisine

Heritage

Turkmenistan in the list of World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s
Image Name Location Notes Date added Type
Ancient Merv
Merv
Merv , formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana , was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary in Turkmenistan. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of...

Mary
Mary, Turkmenistan
Mary is the capital city of Mary Province in Turkmenistan. Former names include Merv, Meru and Margiana. It is located at . The city is an oasis in the Karakum Desert, located on the Murghab river. In 2009, Mary had a population of 123,000 , up from 92,000 in the 1989 census.-History:The ancient...

a major oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

-city
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, on the historical Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

1995 Cultural
Köneürgenç Köneürgenç unexcavated ruins of the 12th-century capital of Khwarezm
Khwarezm
Khwarezm, or Chorasmia, is a large oasis region on the Amu Darya river delta in western Central Asia, which borders to the north the Aral Sea, to the east the Kyzylkum desert, to the south the Karakum desert and to the west the Ustyurt Plateau...

2005 Cultural
Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n Fortresses of Nisa
Nisa, Turkmenistan
Nisa was an ancient city, located near modern-day Bagir village, 18 km northwest of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.Nisa is described by some as one of the first capitals of the Parthians. It was traditionally founded by Arsaces I Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient city, located near modern-day...

Bagyr, Ahal Province
Ahal Province
Ahal Province is one of the welayat of Turkmenistan. It is in the south-center of the country, bordering Iran and Afghanistan along the Kopet Dag Range. Its area is and population 939,700...

one of the first capitals of the Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns
2007 Cultural

Mass media



There are a number of newspapers and monthly magazines published in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan currently broadcasts 6 national TV channels through satellite. They are Altyn asyr, Yashlyk, Miras, Turkmenistan(in 7 languages), Turkmen Owazy and Ashgabat. There are no commercial or private TV stations. Articles published by the state-controlled newspapers are heavily censored and written to glorify the state and its leader.

Internet services are the least developed in Central Asia. Access to internet services are provided by the government's only ISP company "Turkmentelekom". It is estimated that in 2010 there are 80,400 internet users in Turkmenistan or roughly 1.6% of total population.

See also


  • Central Asian Union
    Central Asian Union
    A Central Asian Union was proposed by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on April 26, 2007, in order to create an economic and political union similar to that of the EU encompassing the five former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and...

  • Foreign relations of Turkmenistan
    Foreign relations of Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan's declaration of "permanent neutrality" was formally recognized by the United Nations in 1995. Former President Niyazov stated that the neutrality would prevent Turkmenistan from participating in multi-national defense organizations, but allows military assistance...

  • Geok Tepe
    Geok Tepe
    Geok Tepe, Gökdepe or Gokdepe, is a former fortress of the Turkmens, in Turkmenistan, in the oasis of Ahal, on the Transcaspian railway, 28 miles north-west of Ashgabat. Gökdepe is the Russian version of the Turkic name meaning "Blue Hill" from the Turkmen gök "blue" and depe "hill" or "summit"...

  • International organization membership of Turkmenistan
  • Military of Turkmenistan
    Military of Turkmenistan
    The armed forces of Turkmenistan consist of an Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces, Border Troops, and Internal Troops, and a National Guard. After the fall of the Soviet Union, significant elements of the Soviet Armed Forces Turkestan Military District remained on Turkmen soil...

  • Scouting in Turkmenistan
    Scouting in Turkmenistan
    There is no formal Scouting organization yet in Turkmenistan, due to the political situation and because Turkmenistan refuses to join any organization because of its "status of permanent neutrality," which was accepted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 12, 1995...

  • Transport in Turkmenistan
    Transport in Turkmenistan
    In the early 2000s, substantial work was done to restore infrastructure, which was in general disrepair, and to extend travel routes. Major new road and railroad projects were in progress in 2006...



Further reading


  • Bradt Travel Guide: Turkmenistan by Paul Brummell
  • Historical Dictionary of Turkmenistan by Rafis Abazov
  • Lonely Planet Guide: Central Asia by Paul Clammer, Michael Kohn and Bradley Mayhew
  • The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk
  • Tradition and Society in Turkmenistan: Gender, Oral Culture and Song by Carole Blackwell
  • Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan by Adrienne Lynn Edgar
  • Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus by Robert D. Kaplan
    Robert D. Kaplan
    Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly...

  • Unknown Sands: Journeys Around the World's Most Isolated Country by John W. Kropf
  • Rall, Ted. "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?" New York: NBM Publishing, 2006.
  • Theroux, Paul, "Letter from Turkmenistan, The Golden Man, Saparmyrat Nyyazow’s reign of insanity" New Yorker
    The New Yorker
    The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

    , 28 May 2007
  • Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, Turkménistan, Paris, Non Lieu, 2009.

External links



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