World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Asia

Turkmenistan Travelling Guide
Turkmenistan Travelling Guide

General background: Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects can be worked out.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than California.

Climate: Subtropical desert.

Terrain: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west.

Population: 4,688,963 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Turkmen 77%, Uzbek 9.2%, Russian 6.7%, Kazakh 2%, other 5.1% (1995)

Religions: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

Language: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Government type: Republic

Capital: Ashgabat

Legal system: Based on civil law system.

Economic overview: Turkmenistan is largely desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and huge gas (fifth largest reserves in the world) and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton, making it the world's tenth largest producer. Until the end of 1993, Turkmenistan had experienced less economic disruption than other former Soviet states because its economy received a boost from higher prices for oil and gas and a sharp increase in hard currency earnings. In 1994, Russia's refusal to export Turkmen gas to hard currency markets and mounting debts of its major customers in the former USSR for gas deliveries contributed to a sharp fall in industrial production and caused the budget to shift from a surplus to a slight deficit. With an authoritarian ex-Communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy. Privatisation goals remain limited. In 1998-2001, Turkmenistan has suffered from the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external debt. At the same time, however, total exports have risen sharply because of higher international oil and gas prices. Prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, the burden of foreign debt, and the unwillingness of the government to adopt market-oriented reforms. However, Turkmenistan's cooperation with the international community in transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan may foreshadow a change in the atmosphere for foreign investment, aid, and technological support. Turkmenistan's economic statistics are state secrets, and GDP and other figures are subject to wide margins of error.

Communication/Telephone system: Poorly developed.

Places of interest:
Traditionally patterned carpets, their ceremonies, hospitality and fleet Akhal-Teke horses.

Travel tips: