/terrk'me neuh stan", -stahn"/, n.
a republic in central in Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, Iran, and Afghanistan. 4,225,351; 188,417 sq. mi. (488,000 sq. km). Cap.: Ashkhabad. Also called Turkomen. Formerly, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic.

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Introduction Turkmenistan -
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. Geography Turkmenistan
Location: Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 60 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 488,100 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 488,100 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 3,736 km border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km
Coastline: 0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
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
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Vpadina Akchanaya -81 m; note - Sarygamysh Koli is a lake in northern Turkmenistan with a water level that fluctuates above and below the elevation of Vpadina Akchanaya (the lake has dropped as low as -110 m) highest point: Gora Ayribaba 3,139 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt
Land use: arable land: 3.47% permanent crops: 0.14% other: 96.39% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 18,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salination, water-logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river's inability to replenish the Aral Sea; desertification Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: landlocked; the western and central low-lying, desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau People Turkmenistan -
Population: 4,688,963 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 37.3% (male 895,536; female 853,301) 15-64 years: 58.6% (male 1,350,142; female 1,399,879) 65 years and over: 4.1% (male 72,784; female 117,321) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.84% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 28.27 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 8.92 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.98 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 73.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.1 years female: 64.8 years (2002 est.) male: 57.57 years
Total fertility rate: 3.54 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.01% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 100 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Turkmen(s) adjective: Turkmen
Ethnic groups: Turkmen 77%, Uzbek 9.2%, Russian 6.7%, Kazakh 2%, other 5.1% (1995)
Religions: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
Languages: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 99% female: 97% (1989 est.) Government Turkmenistan -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Turkmenistan local long form: none former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic local short form: Turkmenistan
Government type: republic
Capital: Ashgabat Administrative divisions: 5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat): Ahal Welayaty (Ashgabat), Balkan Welayaty (Balkanabat), Dasoguz Welayaty, Labap Welayaty (Turkmenabat), Mary Welayaty note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday: Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
Constitution: adopted 18 May 1992
Legal system: based on civil law system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Saparmurat NIYAZOV (since 27 October 1990, when the first direct presidential election occurred); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government head of government: President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Saparmurat NIYAZOV (since 27 October 1990, when the first direct presidential election occurred); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 21 June 1992 (next to be held NA); note - President NIYAZOV was unanimously approved as president for life by the Assembly on 28 December 1999); deputy chairmen of the cabinet of ministers are appointed by the president election results: Saparmurat NIYAZOV elected president without opposition; percent of vote - Saparmurat NIYAZOV 99.5% note: NIYAZOV's term in office was extended indefinitely on 28 December 1999 by the Assembly (Majlis) during a session of the People's Council (Halk Maslahaty)
Legislative branch: under the 1992 constitution, there are two parliamentary bodies, a unicameral People's Council or Halk Maslahaty (more than 100 seats, some of which are elected by popular vote and some of which are appointed; meets infrequently) and a unicameral Assembly or Majlis (50 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) election results: Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; note - all 50 elected officials preapproved by President NIYAZOV; most are from the DPT elections: People's Council - NA; Assembly - last held 12 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president) Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Saparmurat NIYAZOV] note: formal opposition parties are outlawed; unofficial, small opposition movements exist underground or in foreign countries Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization AsDB, CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE,
participation: ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer) Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mered Bairamovich ORAZOV FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697 telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500 chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Laura
US: E. KENNEDY embassy: 9 Pushkin Street, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 774000 mailing address: use embassy street address telephone: [9] (9312) 35-00-45 FAX: [9] (9312) 51-13-05
Flag description: green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five carpet guls (designs used in producing rugs) stacked above two crossed olive branches similar to the olive branches on the UN flag; a white crescent moon and five white stars appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe Economy Turkmenistan
Economy - 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. Privatization 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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $21.5 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 10% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,700 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 27% industry: 45% services: 28% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 34.4% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.6%
percentage share: highest 10%: 31.7% (1998) Distribution of family income - Gini 40.8 (1998)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 2.34 million (1996) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 48%, industry 15%, services 37% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $588.6 million expenditures: $658.2 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
Industries: natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 9.256 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 99.94% hydro: 0.06% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 7.708 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 900 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cotton, grain; livestock
Exports: $2.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: gas 33%, oil 30%, cotton fiber 18%, textiles 8% (1999)
Exports - partners: Ukraine 27%, Iran 14%, Turkey 11%, Italy 9%, Switzerland 5% (1999)
Imports: $2.3 billion (c.i.f., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment 60%, foodstuffs 15% (1999)
Imports - partners: Turkey 17%, Ukraine 12%, Russia 11%, UAE 8%, France 6% (1999)
Debt - external: $2.3 billion to $5 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $16 million from the US (2001)
Currency: Turkmen manat (TMM)
Currency code: TMM
Exchange rates: Turkmen manats per US dollar - 5,200 (January 2002-January 2000), 5,350 (January 1999), 4,070 (January 1997)
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Turkmenistan - Telephones - main lines in use: 363,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 4,300 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment: poorly developed domestic: NA international: linked by cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; a new telephone link from Ashgabat to Iran has been established; a new exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 8, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 1.225 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 3 (much programming relayed from Russia and Turkey) (1997)
Televisions: 820,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tm Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA
Internet users: 2,000 (2000) Transportation Turkmenistan -
Railways: total: 2,440 km broad gauge: 2,440 km 1.520-m gauge (2001)
Highways: total: 22,000 km paved: 18,000 km (includes some all- weather gravel-surfaced roads) unpaved: 4,000 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1996)
Waterways: the Amu Darya is an important inland waterway for Turkmenistan
Pipelines: crude oil 250 km; natural gas 4,400 km
Ports and harbors: Turkmenbasy
Merchant marine: total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,600 GRT/5,000 DWT ships by type: petroleum tanker 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 76 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 13 2,438 to 3,047 m: 9 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 63 2,438 to 3,047 m: 7 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 10 under 914 m: 41 (2001) Military Turkmenistan -
Military branches: Ministry of Defense (Army, Air and Air Defense, Navy, Border Troops, and Internal Troops), National Guard Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,206,920 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 979,282 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 48,292 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $90 million (FY99)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 3.4% (FY99)
GDP: Transnational Issues Turkmenistan - Disputes - international: Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan wrestle with sharing limited water resources and regional environmental degradation caused by the shrinking of the Aral Sea; multilaterally- accepted Caspian Sea seabed and maritime boundaries have not yet been established in the Caspian - Iran insists on division of Caspian Sea into five equal sectors while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan have generally agreed upon equidistant seabed boundaries; Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan await ICJ decision to resolve sovereignty dispute over oil fields in the Caspian Sea
Illicit drugs: limited illicit cultivator of opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption; limited government eradication program; increasingly used as transshipment point for illicit drugs from Southwest Asia to Russia and Western Europe; also a transshipment point for acetic anhydride destined for Afghanistan

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Country, Central Asia.

Area: 188,500 sq mi (488,100 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 4,946,000. Capital: Ashgabat. Turkmen make up nearly three-fourths of the population, followed by Russians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tatars, Ukrainians, and Armenians. Language: Turkmen (official). Religion: Islam. Currency: Turkmen manat. Though there are some hills and low mountains, about nine-tenths of Turkmenistan is desert, chiefly the Karakum. The main rivers are the Amu Darya and Morghāb. Many irrigation canals and reservoirs have been built, including the Karakum Canal, which runs 870 mi (1,400 km) between the Amu Darya and the Caspian Sea. The country's chief products are petroleum and natural gas, cotton, silk, carpets, fish, and fruit. It is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state and government is the president, assisted by the People's Council. The earliest traces of human settlement in Central Asia, dating to Paleolithic times, have been found in Turkmenistan. The nomadic, tribal Turkmen probably entered the area in the 11th century AD. They were conquered by the Russians in the early 1880s, and the region became part of Russian Turkestan. It was organized as the Turkmen S.S.R. in 1924 and became a constituent republic of the U.S.S.R. in 1925. The country gained full independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 under the name Turkmenistan. It subsequently experienced economic difficulty.

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▪ 2009

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 5,180,000
Head of state and government:
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

      The process of reform in Turkmenistan proceeded unevenly in 2008. While some features of the rigid regime imposed by former president Saparmurat Niyazov were relaxed or removed, others remained in place. Turkmenistan's isolation from the international community gradually weakened, and travel abroad for many Turkmen—if they could afford it—became easier. The influence of the security services on everyday life, however, continued to be overwhelming. In late April Niyazov's successor, Pres. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, asserted that Turkmenistan was completely rebuilding its society, but details of the process remained scarce.

      One reform that proved to be unpopular was the introduction in February of free gasoline (water, electricity, and natural gas were already supplied free of cost under Niyazov). Whereas car owners were entitled to a certain amount of free fuel per month, they paid a steep price if additional fuel was needed.

      Some of the more visible indications of Niyazov's rule were gradually dismantled. Statues and portraits of the former leader disappeared; months and days of the week that had been renamed for Niyazov had their former designations restored; and the population was given some access to the Internet through a network of Internet cafes; many Web sites, however, remained banned. One of two Internet cafes in the northern city of Dashoguz was closed in June because a customer had accessed a banned site. President Berdymukhammedov took a step that even Niyazov had not attempted—he ordered the dismantling of satellite dishes on the grounds that they marred the appearance of a town. This move was opposed, in at least some places, by local authorities themselves.

       Religious groups, particularly though not exclusively minority confessions, continued to experience severe harassment by the security services. Some groups were forbidden to worship together even though they were legally registered with the authorities.

      By the end of Niyazov's rule, his compendium of Turkmen history and traditional values, the Ruhnama, had dominated education in Turkmenistan at all levels. During 2008 this dominance was gradually eroded, but the Turkmen opposition in exile complained that no new textbooks were available to replace it; as a result, educational reform was partial at best.

      Turkmenistan's huge natural gas resources continued to dominate worldwide interest in the country. Russia's energy giant Gazprom promised in July to buy increasing amounts of Turkmen gas at world market prices, while the U.S. urged Turkmenistan to diversify its gas-export routes, and a gas pipeline to China was under construction. In addition, high-level American visitors to Ashgabat lobbied Berdymukhammedov on behalf of American firms interested in participating in the development of Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves.

Bess Brown

▪ 2008

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 5,097,000
Head of state and government:
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (acting to February 14)

      A presidential election campaign was launched in Turkmenistan on Jan. 2, 2007, to choose a successor to longtime dictator Saparmurad Niyazov, who had died in December 2006. His interim replacement, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, promised that the election would be fair. Six candidates were nominated, including Berdymukhammedov, but it was quickly apparent that he would have an overwhelming advantage because his activities as acting president were given coverage in the state media. In the election, on February 11, he received 89% of the vote.

      Following his election, Berdymukhammedov carried out a reform of the educational system, restoring the 10th year of basic education and the 5th year of university; he also restored the old-age pensions that Niyazov had canceled. Reports indicated that the new leader's reforms were very limited, however. His predecessor's Ruhnama (“Book of the Spirit”), a rambling volume on the history and traditions of the Turkmen people, remained a staple part of the educational system. Educational exchanges with foreign countries were encouraged officially, but restrictions on travel outside the country were not fully removed, and the strict isolation Niyazov imposed on Turkmenistan only partially weakened.

      In June the Turkmen government granted permission to the American oil firm Chevron and to BP to open offices in Ashgabat. The projected gas pipeline supplying Turkmen natural gas to Pakistan via Afghanistan came closer to realization in August when the American firm International Oil announced its decision to undertake the construction. In early October, Indian Ambassador Mohammad Afzal informed Berdymukhammedov that India also wanted to take part in the trans-Afghan pipeline project. In return, Berdymukhammedov raised the possibility of cooperation with India's information-technology sector. At the beginning of the year, he had promised to make Internet access available to all, and Internet cafés reportedly began to open in February, but restrictions remained on access to sites outside the country.

      In August the former mufti of Turkmenistan Nasrullah ibn Ibadullah (who had been sentenced during the Niyazov era to 22 years in prison on charges that were never made public) was pardoned and released. The list of prisoners covered by the annual Independence Day amnesty in October did not, however, include any known political prisoners, nor was any indication given that the new regime intended to review the convictions of persons jailed on political or religious grounds. There was no sign that the new president intended to relax curbs on civil society or on government control over the media. In November Berdymukhammedov replaced several cabinet ministers and dismissed three of the five provincial governors.

Bess Brown

▪ 2007

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 4,899,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov and, from December 21, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (acting)

 On Dec. 21, 2006, Turkmenistan state media reported that Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov (Niyazov, Saparmurad ) had died the previous night of sudden heart failure. (See Obituaries.) His quirky personality cult and heavy-handed dictatorship had increasingly dominated all aspects of life in the country since independence in 1991. Foreign fears that Niyazov's death would result in chaos owing to the lack of any credible successor had not been realized by the end of the year. A deputy prime minister, Health Minister Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, took over as acting president on the recommendation of the National Security Council.

      On December 26 the Khalk Maslahaty (People's Council), the 2,500-member superparliament, met in emergency session and set Feb. 11, 2007, as the date for a presidential election. The assembly also changed the constitution to allow Berdymukhammedov to stand in the election. Five other candidates from Niyazov's immediate entourage were also registered. Prominent members of the opposition in exile announced immediately after Niyazov's death that they would return to Turkmenistan to promote the democratization of the country and contest the election, but the Turkmen security services warned that any opposition leader who tried to enter the country would be arrested. This reaction, and Berdymukhammedov's pledge to continue the policies of his predecessor, quashed opposition and foreign hopes for a speedy liberalization of Turkmenistan's political and economic life.

      Indeed, by the end of the year there was no sign that any of Niyazov's harsher or more-eccentric measures would be reversed in the near future, including the near destruction of the education and health systems. The last had deprived more than 100,000 persons of their incomes and cut the pensions of many others, which thereby impoverished most of the country's senior citizens. While use of children in agriculture was strictly against the law, the prohibition did not extend to their teachers, who were expected to cultivate crops, often in distant areas, to the detriment of their educational activities. In March Niyazov announced that anyone reading Ruhnama, his historical and philosophical treatise, three times would double his mental capacity and automatically go to heaven.

      There were indications throughout the year that Niyazov's mismanagement of the gas-rich country's economy was affecting the national income. In March the president ordered the Ministry of National Security to assume oversight of oil and gas production, along with the important textile and energy industries, allegedly to stop corruption in these sectors. This served to increase the influence of the already-powerful security services even further. Through much of the year, a tug-of-war continued with the Russian firm Gazprom and other customers over the future price of Turkmen gas. At the end of June, Turkmenistan threatened to cut off gas supplies to Russia in October if an agreement was not reached; in September Gazprom acceded to the Turkmen demand for $100 per 1,000 cu m—a 54% increase over the previously agreed price—in return for an increased export volume in 2007–09. Gazprom and other buyers of Turkmen gas feared that Niyazov's demise would affect the country's export potential, but by the end of the year there was no indication that this would be the case. In April an agreement was reached with China for export of Turkmen gas by 2009. The same month, Niyazov turned down a Japanese offer of credit, complaining that the interest rate was too high.

      The resignation in April of long-serving Prosecutor General Gurbanbibi Atajanova was something of a political sensation. Opposition sources, quoting contacts in Turkmen law enforcement, reported that Atajanova, who had made a name for herself as the most ardent supporter of Niyazov and fiercest persecutor of his opponents, had been arrested immediately after her resignation. She was subsequently charged with taking bribes, dealing drugs, and extending criminal investigations to include the relatives of the accused. The political opposition continued to draw harsh reprisals. Human rights activists were accused of working with the opposition in exile, and foreign diplomats were accused of helping them. Radio Liberty journalist Ogulsapar Muradova died in detention in September, notwithstanding an international outcry over her arrest.

Bess Brown

▪ 2006

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 4,833,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      In August 2005 Turkmenistan became the first post-Soviet state to leave the CIS ( Commonwealth of Independent States). During a CIS summit, Turkmenistan's representative—a deputy prime minister—announced that the country was moving from full to associate membership. Turkmen Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov said later that the move was because of Turkmenistan's status as a neutral country (formally recognized by the UN 10 years earlier) and that he would maintain relations with CIS states on a bilateral basis.

      Throughout the year Niyazov continued his practice of replacing government officials after relatively short periods in office, apparently with the objective of preventing anyone from starting to establish an independent power base. Some longtime Niyazov associates also fell from grace. In March Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov was removed from his deputy prime ministership, but he was left in charge of the Foreign Ministry even after Niyazov complained that the country's foreign policy lacked consistency and decisiveness. In May the president dismissed Yolly Gurbanmuradov, the deputy prime minister responsible for the oil and natural gas industries, and in July longtime presidential aide Rejep Saparov was fired after being accused of nepotism. Niyazov commented that Saparov's replacement, a former mayor of the Caspian city of Turkmenbashi, had few relatives. Saparov later received a 20-year prison sentence for corruption.

      After a period of relative relaxation, harassment of minority religious communities by law-enforcement officials worsened in 2005. Such groups as Baptists and Seventh-day Adventists, which had been allowed to register with the authorities, were told that despite having registered, they had no right to gather for worship.

      After Uzbekistan demanded that the U.S. air base at Karshi-Khanabad be closed down, some Russian and other international media speculated that the Americans might move their military presence to Turkmenistan, though this would undermine Turkmenistan's official neutrality. Some high-level U.S. officials visited the country, fueling the speculation, but the Turkmen authorities adamantly denied having any intention of accepting an American military presence.

      Turkmenistan, one of the world's most important producers of natural gas, started the year in a dispute over prices and cut off gas supplies to Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainian officials quickly agreed to a price increase, but Russia's powerful Gazprom did not settle until April. The Ukrainian side subsequently promised to pay Turkmenistan in full for previous gas deliveries; by November Ukrainian energy officials were asserting that the debt had been paid.

Bess Brown

▪ 2005

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 4,940,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      Throughout 2004 Turkmenistan's Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov continued to astonish the country's inhabitants as well as the outside world with his erratic policies, which were intended to turn Turkmenistan into a great nation. In response to international ridicule of his all-pervasive personality cult, Niyazov had some portraits and statues of himself removed from public places, but the spirit of the cult remained.

      As a gesture to international critics of his human rights record, in January Niyazov abolished the requirement that citizens obtain exit visas in order to leave the country. The exit-visa requirement had been abolished once before, in 2001, but was restored after an alleged assassination attempt in 2002. In 2004 exit visas were replaced by a blacklist of persons who, for a wide variety of reasons, were forbidden to leave the country. In early May, after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom published a report sharply critical of Turkmenistan, President Niyazov revoked the criminalization of religious activity by unregistered religious groups, and in subsequent months he allowed four groups that had long been denied legal registration to at last obtain it. Later in the year, however, members of some confessions that had been allowed to register, including Baptists, Adventists, and Pentecostalists, reported that law-enforcement officers were preventing them from worshipping together, even in private homes.

      Niyazov continued to reorganize the educational system in Turkmenistan, using limitations placed on education as a tool to further isolate the country. According to official figures, fewer than 4,000 new students were admitted to higher education in 2004, and private study abroad became almost impossible after health officials were instructed not to provide health certificates to persons wishing to study outside Turkmenistan without official sponsorship. Niyazov ordered that degrees obtained at educational institutions outside Turkmenistan since 1993 be invalidated, with a few exceptions, including some degrees earned in Turkey. The result was a further loss of qualified educational personnel.

      In September Niyazov presented the country with a second volume of his rambling discourse on Turkmen history and culture, the Ruhnama, which had been declared officially to be as important as the Qurʾan and had become the most important text taught in schools at all levels.

      During the summer Turkmenistan's relations with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were strained by the Turkmen refusal to admit that there was an outbreak of plague in the northern part of the country. Turkmen doctors revealed that they had been warned unofficially not to report cases of serious diseases.

Bess Brown

▪ 2004

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 4,867,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      Political life in Turkmenistan continued to be dominated by the reaction of Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov (see Biographies (Niyazov, Saparmurad )) to the alleged attempt on his life in November 2002. Some opposition sympathizers described the incident simply as a coup attempt to remove a dictator from power. Nonetheless, Niyazov used the purported attack as a justification for crushing any suspected internal opposition and called on foreign countries to hand over members of the opposition in exile. Even extended families of suspected plotters were arrested and tortured, and those considered by Niyazov to have been the ringleaders were sentenced to life in prison. By late autumn opposition members in exile had reported that one alleged plotter—Amanmuhammed Yklymov—had died of torture, imprisoned former foreign minister Batyr Berdiyev was either seriously ill or had died, and Boris Shikhmuradov, also a former foreign minister, was near death in prison. Sharp criticism from the international community—including censure by the UN Commission on Human Rights—of such methods was largely ignored by the Turkmen leader, although he attempted to persuade Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, on a visit to Ashgabat in March for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to try to investigate reports of massive human rights violations in the treatment of the alleged plotters, to accept Niyazov's definition of the opposition as terrorists who were beyond the law.

      In April Niyazov traveled to Moscow to sign a 25-year deal with the Russian state gas firm Gazprom for the sale of Turkmen natural gas. The Turkmen president persuaded his Russian counterpart to agree to revoke a 1993 Russian-Turkmen agreement recognizing dual citizenship. Shortly after his return home, Niyazov unilaterally decreed that some 100,000 holders of dual Russian-Turkmen citizenship had two months to decide which citizenship they wanted to retain and to leave the country if they chose to keep their Russian passports. The result was a sharp reaction in the Russian State Duma and the Russian media, and Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin was accused of selling out Russian citizens in return for Turkmen gas. An attempt by the two Foreign Ministries to resolve the issue of dual citizenship failed, and it was generally believed that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov's assertion in October that Russia was prepared to intervene abroad to protect its citizens was aimed primarily at Turkmenistan.

Bess Brown

▪ 2003

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 4,946,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      Throughout 2002 Turkmen Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov continued to destabilize his own government through an increasingly rapid turnover of top officials and the concentration of progressively more tasks in the hands of fewer and fewer ministries. Early in the year, Muhammet Nazarov, head of the National Security Committee (KNB), to whom Niyazov had handed control of the country's security, military, and foreign affairs in 2001, was sharply attacked and then arrested on a variety of charges, including drug trafficking and murder, along with his two deputies, the minister of defense, and other security officials. The purge continued throughout the year. Later in the year Niyazov transferred the fire service and traffic police from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the Defense Ministry, and expanded the authority of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance to include a number of control functions previously carried out by other agencies. These transfers appeared to be related to the president's degree of personal trust in the individual ministers rather than in any rational plan of workload distribution.

      In May Niyazov fired the head of the central bank, Seyitbay Gandymov, who was also the deputy prime minister responsible for foreign economic relations, accusing him of embezzlement and other crimes. In September the president fired Gandymov's successor after a central bank official made an allegedly unauthorized transfer of $41.5 million to foreign accounts; Niyazov decreed that in future no such transfers could take place without his personal permission. At the end of December, a former foreign minister, Boris Shikhmuradov, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison after he confessed to responsibility for an armed attack on Niyazov's motorcade on November 25.

      In April Niyazov announced a reform of higher education that reduced the number of years of classroom study to two—the rest to be spent in practical work—and harnessed education to training for specific jobs. Study of Niyazov's own eccentric account of Turkmen history and traditions, the Ruhnama, was made the basis for all levels of education in the country.

      A summit of leaders of the Caspian littoral states held in Ashgabat in April failed to agree on the division of the sea. With development of oil and gas resources in the Caspian limited by the lack of certainty about the future configuration of the region, Niyazov actively sought to revive a project to build a pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan. While the other two countries were enthusiastic about the project, potential investors were cautious. The Asian Development Bank offered to finance a project study, however, and Russian gas companies expressed some interest in taking part in the construction.

Bess Brown

▪ 2002

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 4,462,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      The rapid turnover of personnel in government posts in Turkmenistan that had begun in 2000 accelerated in 2001. Ministers of both foreign affairs and defense were replaced. By the end of the year, few persons in top positions had held their jobs for more than a year. One of the most significant changes was the concentration of power in the hands of the chairman of the National Security Committee (KNB), who was appointed deputy prime minister responsible for defense, law enforcement, and foreign affairs as well as the president's special adviser on legal matters. In January the KNB received a major infusion of new personnel from other law-enforcement agencies.

      In February Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov presented the People's Council with a draft of the Ruhnama, which he intended as a sort of moral code for the Turkmen people. Its final version, with additional material on the ideal Turkmen family, was completed for the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence in October.

      Official pressure continued on small unregistered religious congregations, primarily Protestant, to stop holding religious services in private homes, although such activities did not violate the law. A decree requiring that foreigners pay the state insurance company $50,000 in order to marry a citizen of Turkmenistan brought sharp international criticism. The Turkmen authorities attempted to defend the decree, saying that it was intended to prevent marriages of convenience that ended in the Turkmen partner's being abandoned without means of support.

      The planned summit of heads of state of countries bordering the Caspian Sea was postponed several times in the course of the year. The summit was intended to settle the issue of the division of the Caspian seabed, which was in urgent need of resolution because the littoral states wanted to exploit the sea's natural resources, especially its oil. As discussions continued through the year, the Turkmen position shifted. A major dispute resumed with Azerbaijan in May over Azerbaijani work in oil fields claimed by Turkmenistan. Meetings of experts from the two countries were unable to resolve the dispute, and in June Turkmenistan withdrew its ambassador to Baku. Talks in Ashgabat in July ended in mutual recriminations, with each side accusing the other of unreasonableness.

      The Turkmen authorities denied that the regionwide drought was having any effect on the country's agriculture, but the official claims of record wheat harvests were discounted by citizens and international observers alike.

      As a neutral state, Turkmenistan refused to allow its airspace or military facilities to be used for attacks on Afghanistan, but the president's agreement to permit transit of international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan was quickly acted upon by UN and other agencies.

Bess Brown

▪ 2001

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 4,885,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      There was little movement in the direction of either political or economic reform in Turkmenistan during 2000. Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov retained his tight personal grip on power; he himself asserted that his main source of information, and lever of control, was the National Security Committee. Veteran Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov was replaced at the end of July and then appointed a special envoy of the president with an assignment to seek a solution to the continuing conflict in Afghanistan. For the rest of the year, Turkmen foreign policy focused on Afghanistan.

      “Turkmenization” of public life was intensified, with stiffened requirements on the use of the Turkmen language promulgated. Persons seeking government posts or places in institutions of higher education were required not only to demonstrate their command of Turkmen but also to undergo an investigation of their families for three generations back. Foreign languages were removed from the curriculum of most schools; according to the president, anyone who wished to learn a foreign language could study privately.

      In April Niyazov ordered the closure of all religious schools except those operated by the state. He also put the clergy of the two registered confessions (Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy) on the state payroll. Official harassment of unregistered religious groups, primarily Protestant Christians, continued.

      In January Nurberdy Nurmamedov, cofounder of the opposition Agzybirlik (Unity) movement, was arrested on a charge of aggravated hooliganism after a quarrel with a business partner. He was sentenced to five years in corrective labour camps and was later moved to the notorious prison in Turkmenbashi. His family and Turkmenistan's few remaining dissidents believed that the real reason for his arrest was broadcasts on the U.S.-financed Radio Liberty, in which he criticized Niyazov's policies.

      Plans for construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline to ship Turkmen gas to Turkey were on hold by the end of the year. According to Western sponsors of the project, there was little hope that it would ever be realized, because there were unresolved disputes over financing and disagreement between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the amount of Azerbaijani gas that could be shipped in the same pipeline.

      In February Russia finalized an agreement to buy Turkmen gas in 2000 to make up for a shortfall in Russian production. Subsequent efforts by the Russians to obtain Turkmen agreement to a long-term gas deal, however, were stalled by Turkmen demands for what the Russians considered too high a price.

Bess Brown

▪ 2000

488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 4,721,000
Head of state and government:
President Saparmurad Niyazov

      In 1999 Turkmenistan's single decision maker, Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov, launched a program of national development, largely in the economic sphere, that was presented to the population as laying the basis for a democratic society by 2010. Until that time there would be no need for more than one political party or for independent information media because the population would not be sufficiently mature, in Niyazov's view, to cope with a multiplicity of ideas or political programs. In December Parliament voted to make Niyazov president for life.

      Heavy publicity was given to the preparation of a manual called Rukhname that was to serve as a moral guide for the Turkmen people. It was envisaged as having the status of a religious text. Non-Turkmen citizens of Turkmenistan were fearful that they would find themselves in second-class status, especially when a program of “Turkmenizing” the names of cities, towns, and other geographic features intensified in midyear. The renaming of Turkmenistan's second city, Charjew (from the words for “four roads” in Farsi), which was given the Turkmen name Turkmenabat, caused concern among the city's large ethnic Uzbek population. An outbreak of vandalism in the city may have been a reaction to the name change.

      In an effort to improve the country's human rights record, a moratorium on application of the death penalty was announced in January and was included in an amendment to the constitution at the annual session of the People's Council in December. Still, security services intensified harassment of the country's few independent nongovernmental organizations and individuals who publicly disagreed with the president. Small religious communities, mostly Protestant, were subjected to increasingly severe pressure; Jehovah's Witnesses came in for especially harsh treatment.

      A parliamentary election was held on December 12, the first in which all seats were contested by at least two candidates. Most candidates were nominated by government-approved organizations; none had an independent political program.

      During the year plans progressed for the construction of a Transcaspian pipeline, to be built by a consortium headed by American firms. Firmly convinced that the pipeline would be built, the Turkmen government sought to borrow on the international financial market against its prospective earnings from the export of gas. Success was limited, however, owing in part to the lack of an International Monetary Fund program in Turkmenistan.

Bess Brown

▪ 1999

      Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 4,731,000

      Capital: Ashgabat

      Head of state and government: President Saparmurad Niyazov

      The authoritarianism of Turkmenistan's Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov appeared to weaken somewhat in 1998 with his promise that greater power would be transferred from the presidential administration to the country's professional parliament. The president's interest in promoting democratization was encouraged by his official visit to the U.S. in April. A few nongovernmental organizations were allowed to register with the government, but potential political opposition was sharply discouraged, although several political prisoners were released prior to the trip to Washington.

      Niyazov's efforts to forge a Turkmen national consciousness from a disparate group of tribes appeared to receive a setback when a group of soldiers killed several people and took several hostages in western Turkmenistan in September. A number of high-ranking military officials, including the minister of defense and the chief of staff, were dismissed because of the incident, which the president said had resulted from putting tribal loyalties ahead of the national interest.

      Turkmenistan's economy received a boost with the opening of a gas pipeline to northern Iran, a project seen as the first stage in the creation of an alternate route for the export of the country's gas and oil that would end its dependence on using Russian pipelines. Turkmen officials actively promoted plans to construct a pipeline through Afghanistan to ports in Pakistan; with this objective, contacts were developed with the Afghan Taliban, a move that angered some of Turkmenistan's Central Asian neighbours. (See Central Asian Oil Conflicts. (Central Asian Oil Conflicts ))

      The necessity for Turkmenistan to develop its gas and oil export capability without delay was illustrated by the country's desperate financial situation that resulted from the inability of its customers from the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine, to pay gas bills that had accumulated over several years.


▪ 1998

      Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 4,695,000

      Capital: Ashgabat

      Head of state and government: President Saparmurad Niyazov

      The government's decision at the beginning of January 1997 to end subsidized allocations of flour for all citizens was an indication that Turkmenistan's economy was suffering from the failure of its customers within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to pay for deliveries of Turkmen gas. During a state visit to Moscow in August, Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov charged that Russia was hampering the export of Turkmen gas to customers outside the CIS who would pay in hard currency because Russia wanted to monopolize the export market. The U.S. decision in July not to oppose a pipeline project to transport Turkmen gas across Iran represented a major boost for Turkmenistan's gas industry by freeing the country from its dependence on Russia for access to foreign markets.

      During most of 1997 Turkmenistan was embroiled in quarrels with Azerbaijan over the ownership of offshore oil deposits in the Caspian Sea. The disputes were the result of the failure of the Caspian littoral states to agree on national delimitations of the sea. An argument over the Serdar field in the first half of 1997 was resolved when Azerbaijan accepted the Turkmen claim. In July Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov proposed the creation of a joint Turkmen-Azerbaijani commission to establish the sea boundaries of the two countries. The proposal was not acted upon, however, and at the end of September, Turkmenistan demanded that Azerbaijan and an international petroleum consortium pay compensation for the development of two offshore oil fields that Turkmenistan considered to be at least partially its property.


      This article updates Turkmenistan.

▪ 1997

      A republic of Central Asia, Turkmenistan borders Uzbekistan on the northeast, Kazakstan on the northwest, the Caspian Sea on the west, Iran on the southwest, and Afghanistan on the southeast. Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 4,574,000. Cap.: Ashgabat. Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 11, 1996) an interbank rate (from February 1996) of 4,060 manat to U.S. $1 (6,396 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Saparmurad Niyazov.

      The opening in May 1996 of a rail line linking Tejen in southern Turkmenistan with Mashhad in northern Iran was hailed as a major step in providing access to ports on the Persian Gulf not only for Turkmenistan but for the Central Asian region as a whole.

      Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov became the first Central Asian leader to take over the chairmanship of the Economic Cooperation Organization, a regional group set up in the 1960s by Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey and joined by the former Soviet Asian republics. Turkmenistan, however, rejected membership in the customs union set up by the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Kazakstan, on the grounds that it would be in conflict with Turkmenistan's "international legal status as a neutral state."

      Economic reform was made a top priority, a reversal of Niyazov's postindependence policies that had put political stability above market reform. The president introduced fees for electric power and thereby ended one of his favourite policies for ensuring his own popularity. (BESS BROWN)

      This article updates Turkmenistan.

▪ 1996

      A republic of Central Asia, Turkmenistan borders Uzbekistan on the northeast, Kazakhstan on the northwest, the Caspian Sea on the west, Iran on the southwest, and Afghanistan on the southeast. Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 4,081,000. Cap.: Ashgabat (formerly Ashkhabad). Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 4, 1995) an official rate of 200 manat to U.S. $1 (316.18 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Saparmurad Niyazov.

      In January 1995 Turkmenistan, Turkey, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Russia agreed on the financing of a pipeline to enable Turkmenistan to export its natural gas to Western Europe via Iran and Turkey. A separate agreement with Iran provided for the construction of a pipeline to furnish Turkmen gas to Iran. Turkmenistan's neighbours were concerned over the closeness of its ties to Iran but were unable to persuade Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov to reorient his foreign policy.

      In October the U.S. company Unocal and Delta Oil Co. of Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a $3 billion pipeline to Pakistan via Afghanistan, while an Argentine company, Bridas, reported the discovery of a major natural gas field at Yashiar, east of Ashgabat.

      Niyazov continued to ignore foreign attempts to pressure him into changing his human rights policies at home. In May he asserted that his stewardship of the country had resulted in no budget deficit despite social guarantees such as free water, gas, and electricity for citizens. He did not mention that these things were not widely available.

      On July 12 a crowd of 300-500 people staged a demonstration—the first since independence—in Ashgabat protesting Niyazov's dictatorial rule—he was the first Central Asian head of state to have his term of office extended into the next century—and calling for new presidential elections. The Turkmen opposition headquartered in Moscow denied involvement, and some Russian observers speculated that the protest may have been organized with the help of Russian officials annoyed at Niyazov's pro-Iranian bent.

      (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Turkmenistan.

▪ 1995

      A republic of Central Asia, Turkmenistan borders Uzbekistan on the northeast, Kazakhstan on the northwest, the Caspian Sea on the west, Iran on the southwest, and Afghanistan on the southeast. Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 4,044,000. Cap.: Ashgabat (formerly Ashkhabad). Monetary unit: manat, with (Oct. 7, 1994) an official rate of 10 manat to U.S. $1 (15.91 manat = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Saparmurad Niyazov.

      There were no serious challenges to Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov's authoritarian rule in 1994, but his personality cult, which rivaled that of Joseph Stalin, suffered from a lack of visible improvement in the country's economy. In January 99.9% of Turkmenistan's voters approved a parliamentary proposal made by Niyazov's Democratic (formerly Communist) Party to exempt the president from facing reelection in 1997 so that he could oversee completion of a 10-year prosperity scheme. Political opponents of Niyazov were persecuted inside Turkmenistan, and in October the state prosecutor asked the Russian Federation to extradite Turkmen dissidents in exile in Moscow.

      Turkmenistan, a major natural gas producer, put its own well-being before that of the Commonwealth of Independent States, turning off the supply to several of its neighbours to force them to pay their debts. Niyazov incurred the wrath of Western countries through his courtship of Iran, which promised financial support for a project to ship Turkmen natural gas across Iran to Turkey and Western Europe. Nonetheless, in May Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian state to join NATO's Partnership for Peace.

      For a country with good economic prospects, Turkmenistan's currency, the manat, launched in November 1993, proved surprisingly unstable, declining from 2 to the dollar in late 1993 to 125 to the dollar a year later. In May Niyazov began the privatization of state-owned companies, starting with auctions of small enterprises, but the process moved very slowly. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Turkmenistan.

▪ 1994

      A republic of Central Asia, Turkmenistan borders Uzbekistan on the northeast, Kazakhstan on the northwest, the Caspian Sea on the west, Iran on the southwest, and Afghanistan on the southeast. Area: 488,100 sq km (188,500 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 4,294,000. Cap.: Ashgabat (formerly Ashkhabad). Monetary unit: Russian ruble, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 1,165 rubles to U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Saparmurad Niyazov.

      The dominant factor in Turkmenistan's political life in 1993 was the personality cult of Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov. Foreign human rights groups were critical of the treatment accorded the Turkmen opposition; when important foreign guests visited Turkmenistan, opposition leaders were routinely placed under house arrest. All information media remained a government monopoly. Niyazov ensured his popularity by providing all citizens with free electricity and water, and foreign investors were attracted by the political stability achieved through Niyazov's benevolent authoritarianism that so distressed Turkmen intellectuals and human rights activists.

      Turkmenistan was very successful in attracting foreign assistance for its gas industry and in 1993 began expanding its petroleum industry, which had stagnated in the last years of the U.S.S.R. because of Moscow's reluctance to invest in the region. An important source of gas for other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, Turkmenistan proved a hard bargainer in its demands on its trading partners, forcing Caucasian and Central Asian consumers to agree to steep price increases or barter exchanges that primarily benefited the Turkmen side.

      Niyazov said that he did not contemplate taking Turkmenistan out of the CIS, but he was vehemently opposed to the creation of an economic union, which he considered an infringement of his independence in dealing with foreign states. When the union was created in September, however, Turkmenistan became an associate member. At the beginning of November the country left the ruble zone and introduced its own currency, the manat, with Niyazov's portrait on the bills. (BESS BROWN)

      This updates the article Turkmenistan.

* * *

Turkmen  Türkmenistan 
Turkmenistan, flag of country of Central Asia. It is the second largest state in Central Asia, after Kazakhstan, and the southernmost of the region's five republics. The country is bordered by Kazakhstan on the northwest, Uzbekistan on the north and east, Afghanistan on the southeast, Iran on the south, and the Caspian Sea on the west. After Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan is the least densely populated of the Central Asian states. Much of its waterless expanse is inhospitable to plant and animal life. Except for oases in narrow strips dotted along the foothills of the Kopet-Dag Range and along the Amu Darya, Morghāb, and Tejen rivers, deserts characterize its sunbaked, sandy terrain. From 1925 to 1991 Turkmenistan was the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, a constituent (union) republic of the Soviet Union; it declared independence on Oct. 27, 1991. The capital is Ashgabat (Ashkhabad), which lies near the southern border with Iran.

The land

      Deserts (desert) occupy nine-tenths of Turkmenistan's (Turkmenistan) territory. The Karakum (Karakum Desert) is one of the world's largest sand deserts, taking up the entire central part of Turkmenistan and extending northwest into Kazakhstan. Topographically, four-fifths of Turkmenistan consists of the southern part of the Turan Plain. Mountains and foothills rise mainly in the southern part of the republic, the Kugitangtau and Kopet-Dag (Kopet-Dag Range) ranges being spurs of the Pamir-Alay mountain ranges. The Kopet-Dag is geologically young, its instability indicated by intermittent earthquakes (earthquake) of great destructive force.

      Turkmenistan's main rivers are the Amu Darya (ancient Oxus River), which flows along its northeastern border toward the Aral Sea, and the Tejen (Harīrūd), Morghāb (Morghāb River) (Murgab, or Murgap), and Atrek; there are also numerous small mountain rivers. However, the geographic position of the rivers and the direction of their flow do not coincide with the location of cultivable lands; the most fertile—and still insufficiently used—lands lie chiefly in the south, northeast, and west, whereas the principal rivers run mostly in the east. The Karakum Canal, completed in 1967, is one of the world's largest irrigation and shipping canals. The water lost from these canals through irrigation and from evaporation in the arid climate contributes to the shortfall of the Amu Darya and other streams in their lower courses.

      Turkmenistan's position deep inside Asia and the character of its relief are responsible for a strongly continental climate, which exhibits great fluctuations in temperatures during the day and the year. The average annual temperature is 57°–61° F (14°–16° C), but this figure masks an extremely wide range. The temperature seldom falls below 95° F (35° C) during summer days, and the absolute maximum high temperature in the southeast Karakum reaches 122° F (50° C) in the shade. By contrast, in winter the temperature in Gushgy, in the extreme south on the border with Afghanistan, drops to −27° F (−33° C). Precipitation occurs mainly in the spring and ranges from about 3 inches (80 millimetres) per year in the northwest desert to as much as 12 inches in the mountains.

Plant and animal life
      Except in the oases and mountain valleys and plateaus, the vegetation is of a pronounced desert character. In the mountain valleys of the Kopet-Dag, wild grapes, almonds, figs, and walnuts are found, while juniper and pistachio trees grow on the open slopes. On the riverbanks and islands of the Amu Darya stand tugai (dense floodplain forests) of black poplar, willow, reed, and cane.

      The desert is home to foxes, wildcats, gazelles, and tortoises, while the mountains support goats, cheetahs, lynx, snow leopards, and porcupines. Jackals, wild boars, various species of birds, and the rare pink deer inhabit the tugai; wild donkeys roam the Badkhyz and Garabil plateaus in the southwest. Vast flocks of ducks, geese, and swans make the east coast of the Caspian Sea their winter home. In the Caspian, fishermen find abundant herring, sprat, roach, and sturgeon; before it became heavily polluted, the Amu Darya supplied edible carp, barbel, and pike.

Settlement patterns
      There is much variety in the different regions of Turkmenistan, but two broad divisions may be seen: an oasis region—characterized by adequate water supply, cultivated lands, and developed industry—composed of the Kopet-Dag and other oases; and a desert region, subdivided into western Turkmenistan, with a well-developed industrial base, and the Karakum, with cattle raising and deposits of natural gas and oil.

      The Kopet-Dag oasis stretches along the northern foothills of the Kopet-Dag Range, the slopes of which offer large areas for nonirrigated farming; both the mountains and foothills are also rich in mineral resources. The economic and cultural centre of the oasis is the capital city of Ashgabat. The development of the capital has stimulated industry, turning an agrarian oasis into the industrial-agrarian core of the republic.

      The Morghāb oasis is famous for its fine-staple cotton, silk, handmade carpets and rugs, and Karakul sheep. The Morghāb River, the lower reaches of which are crossed by the Karakum Canal, can supply more water for irrigation. Mary (formerly Merv) is the centre of the oasis and the surrounding region.

      Separated from the Morghāb by a stretch of the Karakum, the Tejen oasis formed along the Tejen River. Before the construction of the Karakum Canal, only small areas of wheat, barley, and melons could be cultivated because of the scarcity of water. After the oasis was crossed by the canal, however, and the Hauz-Khan Reservoir built, large areas were irrigated, thus making possible the cultivation of long-staple cotton and the construction of cotton-processing plants. The economic and cultural centre is the town of Tejen.

      The middle Amu Darya oasis, in contrast to other oases, stretches almost without interruption for hundreds of miles and is almost entirely cultivated. The Amu Darya waters are very rich in silt, an excellent natural fertilizer. Raising of cotton and silkworms has long been widespread in that area, which is also an important producer of kenaf and other fibre crops. The adjoining deserts provide fodder for Karakul sheep. Industries processing agricultural products and mineral raw materials have been developed in the oasis as well. The economic and administrative centre of the oasis and the region is Chärjew (Chardzhou) (Chardzhou), the second largest city and industrial centre in Turkmenistan.

      The lower Amu Darya oasis lies in the ancient delta of the Amu Darya and was long one of the most important agricultural regions of the republic. The oasis is cut by a dense network of old riverbeds as well as by irrigation channels and ditches beginning in neighbouring Uzbekistan. Reductions in the lower Amu Darya's flow threaten to impair this oasis's agricultural output, however.

      The desert of western Turkmenistan is an enormous and almost waterless expanse, but its mountainous part, which is an eastern continuation of the Caucasus Mountains (Caucasus), has mineral and fuel resources. The latter's deposits of oil, rock salt, and common lake salt are of great importance. Western Turkmenistan is one of the most industrially developed regions of the republic, emphasizing oil extraction and refining, chemical and mining industries, and fisheries and fish processing (along the Caspian Sea). The rural population is engaged mostly in raising sheep, goats, and camels.

      The Karakum and the other featureless deserts enter, in part, all the above-mentioned areas. They are distinguished by the same desert landscape, lack of surface water, exceptionally meagre precipitation, and high summer temperatures. At the same time the desert is a zone of fuel and mineral resources, and its richest pastures can be used year-round for sheep, goats, and camels.

The people
      The Turkmens (Turkmen) are a Muslim people who speak a language belonging to the southwestern, or Oğuz, branch of the Turkic linguistic group. Turkmens make up some three-fourths of the republic's population, up from about two-thirds in 1970, owing largely to a relatively high birth rate. There are smaller numbers of Russians, Uzbeks (Uzbek), Kazaks (Kazakh), and Tatars.

      The population is distributed unevenly, with few people in the Karakum Desert and mountain regions but large numbers in the oases. With the development of the Turkmenistan economy during the Soviet period, many non-Turkmen skilled workers and scientific and technical intelligentsia immigrated to the republic.

      About two-thirds of the ethnic Turkmen population lives in rural settlements and villages. The urban population consists mainly of outsiders, those from Russia being concentrated in the principal urban centres.

      For centuries the Turkmens were divided into numerous tribes and clans (clan), the largest being the Tekke, Ersari, and Yomut. Prior to the Russian Revolution most of the Turkmens were pastoral nomads (nomadism), though during the 18th and 19th centuries many had settled in the oases and become agriculturalists. Their tribal organizations and loyalties were strong. They had always been warlike and had commonly hired themselves out as mercenaries to various rulers in Central Asia and Iran. Turkmenistan's incorporation into the Soviet Union had the effect of bringing greater unity to the Turkmen tribes and of giving them the beginning of a sense of nationhood.

The economy
      Turkmenistan specializes in cotton growing and in the extraction of oil and natural gas. Turkmenistan's underground resources in the western plain and those underwater along the Caspian Sea include extensive reserves of oil and natural gas, as well as deposits of mirabilite, iodine, bromine, sulfur, potassium, and salt. The mountains and foothills contain dolomites and marl, which are used for fertilizing calcium-deficient soil.

      The cultivation of fine-staple cotton and the raising of Karakul sheep, horses, and camels contribute most to the agricultural economy. The Karakul breed accounts for seventh-tenths of all sheep in the republic. There are several prized varieties of Karakul pelts: the glistening black arabi, the golden sur, and the silver-gray shirazi. The Akhal Teke and Yomut breeds of horses deserve their fame as handsome, fleet animals with great endurance. Arabian dromedary (one-humped) camels are indispensable in desert areas for transporting sheepherders, for drawing water from deep desert wells, and as a source of wool, milk, and meat.

      Turkmenistan leads Central Asia as a producer of silkworm cocoons, primarily from the middle Amu Darya oasis. The lower Amu Darya oasis, lying in the Amu Darya delta, long supported one of the most important agricultural zones in Turkmenistan. The warm climate there grows medium-staple cotton, alfalfa (lucerne), sweet sorghum, beans, kenaf, sesame, grapes, vegetables, and melons, and nurtures cattle and silkworms. Serious problems, however, threaten the prosperity of this region. The disastrous decline in the Amu Darya's outflow, the effects of extreme pollution from pesticide and chemical runoff, and soil and water salinization resulting from the desiccation and shrinkage of the Aral Sea threaten to ruin the Amu Darya delta as an agricultural producer for Turkmenistan.

      In less-populated western Turkmenistan, people raise sheep, goats, and camels and cultivate some grain and melons. In the south, near Tejen, lies the Badkhyz Nature Reserve with its pistachio woodlands. Pistachios also grow in the Gushgy district, watered by a tributary of the Morghāb River, at Turkmenistan's southernmost point.

      The radical reconstruction of the republic's economy was completed by 1930. Old branches (cotton ginning, oil pressing, and carpet making) were retained, and new ones (heavy and light industry, such as food processing) emerged.

      Petroleum deposits (petroleum) and the associated oil industry are centred in the Caspian plain in western Turkmenistan and in the offshore oil fields to the west of the Cheleken Peninsula in the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan oil is of a very high grade, both as a fuel and as a raw material for chemical production. A network of pipelines links natural gas deposits in western Turkmenistan with Ashgabat, Türkmenbashy (Krasnovodsk), Cheleken, and the central regions of the republic.

      Significant in the chemical industry are the Chärjew superphosphate plant, mirabilite from the vicinity of the Garabogazköl (Kara-Bogaz-Gol), sulfur from Gaurdak, iodine and bromine factories on the Cheleken Peninsula, and the production of detergents at the Turkmenbashi oil refinery. Thermal power stations using liquid fuel operate at Nebitdag, Ashgabat, Büzmeyin (Bezmein), and Türkmenbashy, while a station at Mary burns natural gas. Hydroelectric plants include the Hindu Kush plant, as well as plants at Kaushtubent and at the Dashköpri Reservoir on the Morghāb River.

      The republic's engineering and metal-processing enterprises include shops for repairing diesel locomotives, railcars, and agricultural machinery. Plants in Ashgabat and Mary produce oil-field and refinery equipment.

      Silk-winding and silk-weaving mills, as well as cotton, cotton-wool, and worsted mills are important. Artificial furs, leather footwear, and sewn goods also are produced. Domestic industries, especially carpet (rug and carpet) and rug making, occupy an important place in the republic's economy. Turkmen carpets and rugs, long renowned for their durability and unique designs, are exported to more than 50 countries. Among Turkmen carpets well-known in the West are those made by the Tekke (Tekke carpet), Yomut (Yomut carpet), Salor (Salor rug), and Ersari (Ersari carpet) Turkmens and called by those names. The food industry's most important branches include those producing vegetable oil, processing fish and meat, grinding flour, and making wine. Turkmenistan exports oil, butter, wine, fish, and salt to nearby countries.

      A railway and pipeline project to connect Turkmenistan with Iran was under construction during the 1990s. These facilities can provide the country with its first direct outlets for large-scale exporting to the Middle East and the West; a natural gas pipeline is planned that will extend through Iran and Turkey to the Mediterranean.

      The great dispersion of the towns in Turkmenistan requires extending rail lines (railroad) to serve a scattered population efficiently, but the existing communications system falls far short of achieving that goal. A main trunk railway connects Türkmenbashy via Ashgabat and other towns with Tashkent in Uzbekistan, throwing off branch lines from Mary to Gushgy and from Nebitdag to Vyshka. Another line extends from Chärjew along the Amu Darya as far north as Qŭnghirot (Kungrad) in Qoraqalpoghiston (Karakalpakstan). However, trucks now carry most of the country's internal freight, and such traffic is developing more rapidly than rail transportation.

      Water transport includes a merchant fleet and a ferry plying the Caspian Sea between Türkmenbashy and Baku in Azerbaijan. Air service from Ashgabat to Baku and Tashkent has been reduced since 1991.

Administration and social conditions

      Turkmenistan adopted a new constitution in 1992, replacing the Soviet-era constitution that had been in effect since 1978. The new constitution establishes legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, dominated by a strong executive. Like that of Tajikistan, the constitution of Turkmenistan prescribes numerous rights and freedoms but enables these rights to be restricted. Turkmenistan thus remains an authoritarian state.

      The unicameral parliament (Mejlis) includes 50 delegates elected by territorial districts to five-year terms. The president, the head of state, is elected for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms, but Turkmenistan's first president, Saparmurad Niyazov, extended his term to 10 years in a 1994 referendum. The highest courts are the Supreme Court and the Supreme Economic Court (for commercial cases); judges serve five-year terms and are appointed by the president.

 A powerful People's Council (Khalk Maslahaty) comprises the president, members of the parliament, regional representatives, chairmen of the high courts, the cabinet, and other officials. This council has the authority to call national referenda, plan economic and social policy, and declare war.

      Turkmens received their education from traditional Muslim (Islāmic world) schools in Bukhara and Khiva until the collapse of those khanates in 1920. There was also a scattering of New Method schools established by Muslim reformers (Jadids) early in the 20th century in such towns as Kerki and Chardzhou (now Chärjew). Only after 1928 did the Soviet school system begin to displace these Muslim educational institutions, with the result that literacy rates remained low for many years. By the 1960s and '70s several higher educational institutions functioned in the republic—the Turkmen State University in Ashgabat, a teachers' college, and medical, polytechnic, and agricultural institutes. The Turkmen Academy of Sciences was founded in 1951 and directed from Moscow until the late 1980s. Then, as now, education was provided tuition-free to students, and those selected for higher education received stipends from the republic's budget. The recent lapse of communist ideology and the rising demands for freer speech and press have affected the educational system of Turkmenistan. All curricula and publications previously dominated by the Communist Party's censorship and propaganda now require thorough editorial change. The designation of Turkmen (Turkmen language) as the state's official language also has necessitated reorientation in instruction, curricula, and teaching materials.

Cultural life
      The widespread Turkmen traditional practice of composing poetry orally gave way, after printing became well established in Turkmen centres in the 1920s, to writing and to the dissemination of verse and prose in book form. Although written Turkmen literature dates at least to the 18th-century poet Mahtum Quli (Magtim Guli), it underwent a burst of growth when the literary publications of the new republic began to appear in the late 1920s and '30s. Outstanding graduates of Bukharan seminaries such as Abdulhekim Qulmuhammed-oghli (d. c. 1937) brought about a renewal of intellectual and cultural life in Soviet Turkmenistan. Qulmuhammed-oghli served in the anti-Soviet Basmachi resistance movement, later became a communist nationalist, and influenced younger intellectuals through his activities as a writer, editor, researcher, and cultural organizer. All such efforts came to an end in the 1930s when the purges (purge trials) instigated by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph) and carried out locally by Russian and Turkmen communists destroyed this small core of outstanding intellectual leaders, including Qulmuhammed-oghli. After that, Soviet-educated intellectuals dominated cultural life. Among these figures, Berdi Kerbabayev attained some renown for his novel Aygïtlï ädim (1940; The Decisive Step) and a later novel, Nebit-Dag (1957), as well as plays, poems, and translations.

      Though the authoritarian government remains hostile to competing ideologies that lay claim to the loyalty of the population, the fervent young followers of the imams and ishans (Muslim religious leaders) attract some followers to a much closer attachment to the Islāmic (Islāmic world) heritage as well as lifestyle.

      The Turkmen-language literary publications that appeared in Soviet Turkmenistan in the late 1920s and '30s first used a modified Arabic script, then a modified Roman alphabet, and finally a modified Cyrillic alphabet. After independence Turkmen writers, religious leaders, and educators entered a debate over their alphabet; though many wished to return to the Arabic writing system, Turkmenistan adopted a modified Roman alphabet.

      A studio in Ashgabat produces films, and television stations transmit from the capital and from Türkmenbashy. Until recently, most broadcasting and films employed the Russian language rather than Turkmen. Broadcasts in Turkmen are often translations of programs that originated in Russian and other languages.

Viktor Borisovich Zhmuida Edward Allworth

      It is possible to follow the development of human habitats in southern Turkmenistan from Paleolithic times to the present. Some of the earliest traces of agriculture in Central Asia were discovered some 20 miles (32 km) north of Ashgabat in the Neolithic Jeitun civilization, which may be dated to the 5th millennium BC. The Jeitun civilization was followed by a series of other Neolithic cultures, and a cultural unification of southern Turkmenistan occurred in the Early Bronze Age (2500–2000 BC). During the course of the following half millennium, some urban centres were created; the ruins of Namazga-Tepe cover approximately 145 acres (60 hectares). From about the mid-3rd century BC to the Sāsānian (Sāsānian dynasty) conquest in the 4th century AD, Turkmenistan formed part of the Parthian empire (see Parthia).

      Into this land came, probably in the 11th century, the Turkmens (Turkmen), strangers as it were, with no links to any previous civilization of the region. Contemporary historians did not distinguish them from the Oghuz (Oğuz), a loose confederation of Turkic tribes present in the region since the 9th century. Turkmens came under the rule of the Seljuq dynasty (1038–1194) of Oghuz tribes, and they weathered the Mongol invasions (13th century) quite well; the southern tribes became part of the Il-Khanid (Il-Khanid Dynasty) empire, and the northern tribes belonged to the Golden Horde. One of the Turkmens' principal occupations for centuries after the decline of Mongol rule was robbing passing caravans.

      Until 1924 the Turkmens never experienced even nominal political unity. Their organization was exclusively tribal (tribe), and the tribes were either nomadic and independent or subject to neighbouring Persia or to the khanates of Khiva and Bukhara. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Chaudor tribe led a powerful tribal union in the north, while the Salor tribe was dominant in the south. During the 17th and 18th centuries the ascendancy passed to the Yomuts, Tekkes, Ersaris, and Saryks, who began to move out of the desert into the oases of Khorezm (Khwārezm) and to the Atrek, Tejen, and Morghāb (Morghāb River) rivers and to adopt a settled way of life. There was bitter rivalry among the tribes, particularly between the Tekke and Yomut, while the Goklans, inhabiting part of the Khiva oasis, were opposed to both. Thus, while the Tekkes were the principal opponents of the Russian invasion in the 1860s and '70s, the other tribes either failed to support them or helped the Russians.

      The first notable Russian expedition under Prince Aleksandr Bekovich-Cherkasski in 1717 met with failure; however, in 1869 a Russian military force landed on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea and founded the port of Krasnovodsk (Turkmenbashi) (now Turkmenbashi). In 1874 the Transcaspian military district was established, and in 1881 this district became the Transcaspian province, which in 1899 was made part of the governorate-general of Turkistan. There was fierce resistance to Russian encroachment, but this was finally broken by General Mikhail Dmitriyevich Skobelev (Skobelev, Mikhail Dmitriyevich) at the Battle of Gök-Tepe (now Gökdepe) in 1881. The Turkmens took an active part in the revolt of 1916 against Russian rule, particularly in the town of Tejen, where many Russian settlers and officials were murdered.

      After the Russian Revolution, during the Civil War (Russian Civil War) (1918–20), Turkmenistan was the scene of sporadic fighting between the Social Revolutionary Transcaspian Provincial Government and the Bolshevik troops trying to penetrate from Tashkent. The Social Revolutionaries were for a time supported by a small British force of 1,200 men with its headquarters in northeastern Iran. The British force was withdrawn in April 1919, and Red troops captured Ashgabat in July 1919 and Krasnovodsk in February 1920. Bolshevik rule was thereafter established.

      Until 1924 the Transcaspian (after 1921 called the Turkmen) province formed part of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, while the remaining districts of Turkmenistan were embodied in the Bukharan and Khorezmian Soviet Socialist republics formed in 1920. The Turkmen S.S.R. was formed in 1924 out of the Turkmen province, together with the Turkmen rayony (sectors) of the former Khorezmian Republic ( Tashauz [now Dashhowuz], Takhta [now Tagta], Ilyata, Kunya-Urgench, and Porsa) and of the Bukhara Republic (Chardzhou, now Chärjew, Kerki, and part of Sherabad). It formally became one of the U.S.S.R.'s constituent republics in 1925. During the Soviet period Turkmenistan benefited from educational and health care modernization but experienced political repression.

 The republic declared independence on Oct. 27, 1991, and adopted the name Turkmenistan. In the early years of independence, a corrupt regime led by the dictatorial rule of Saparmurad Niyazov failed to improve the quality of life for the population, despite the interest of foreign investors in Turkmenistan's natural gas resources. During the course of Niyazov's rule, his primary interest proved to be propagating an elaborate personality cult. In addition to declaring himself president for life, Niyazov pursued a number of extravagant projects to this end. Atop a monument called the Neutrality Arch, a gold statue in his likeness—one of the many such statues and portraits scattered throughout the country—was designed to rotate to continuously face the Sun. He called for a “Golden Age Lake” to be constructed in the desert at a cost of more than $6 billion, and his semiautobiographical Rukhnama (“The Book of the Soul”) was established as required reading in all of Turkmenistan's schools, even forming a part of driver's exams. He renamed days of the week, months of the year, a crater on the Moon, a breed of horse, a canal, a city, and a wide range of ideas and places after himself and members of his family. A large proportion of state money—at the beginning of the 21st century, estimated at more than half of the country's gross domestic product—was funneled off to a special presidential fund; much of this revenue was to subsidize special construction projects emphasizing the president's prestige. This systematic diversion of revenue, as well as various “reforms,” resulted in a crippling decline in education and health care services.

 In late 2006, after more than two decades of rule, Niyazov died suddenly of heart failure. Fears that the absence of a designated successor would threaten the country's stability were not immediately realized, though the naming of former minister of health Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (Berdymukhammedov, Gurbanguly) as acting president—a departure from the dictates of the country's constitution—was greeted with some surprise. The country's first (at least nominally) contested elections were held in February of the following year, and, amid widespread criticism that they were marred by fraud, Berdymukhammedov was declared the winner and was formally inaugurated as Turkmenistan's president.

      Early in his presidency, Berdymukhammedov took steps toward dismantling the vestiges of Niyazov's personality cult and reversing some of his controversial orders. Adjustments included ending bans such as those on ballet and opera, reversing Niyazov's decree renaming the days of the week and months of the year after himself and members of his family, and ordering that the Neutrality Arch, with its large gold effigy, be moved from the capital's centre to its southern reaches.

Denis Sinor Ed.

Additional Reading

Recent accounts from travelers to Central Asian countries include Philip Glazebrook, Journey to Khiva (1992); Georgie Anne Geyer, Waiting for Winter to End: An Extraordinary Journey Through Soviet Central Asia (1994); Jonathan Maslow, Sacred Horses: The Memoirs of a Turkmen Cowboy (1994); Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia (1994); and Charles Undeland and Nicholas Platt, The Central Asian Republics: Fragments of Empire, Magnets of Wealth (1994). International Monetary Fund, Turkmenistan (1992), studies the economy.

René Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia (1970; originally published in French, 1939), although dated, is still the most comprehensive and basically sound survey of the region in English. Denis Sinor, Inner Asia: History—Civilization—Languages, 2nd rev. ed. (1971), serves as a broad overview. Additional works on the region's history include Gavin Hambly (ed.), Central Asia (1969; originally published in German, 1966); Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia (1964, reprinted 1975); and A.H. Dani et al. (eds.), History of Civilizations of Central Asia (1992– ). Various topics on Central Asia are treated in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. (1954– ). The best short sketch on the region's history is found in Eshan Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 5, fascicles 2–3 (1990–91). On Turkmenistan itself, studies include Duncan Cumming (compiler), The Country of the Turkomans: An Anthology of Exploration from the Royal Geographical Society (1977); Nikolay Murav'yov, Journey to Khiva: Through the Turkoman Country (1977); and Mehmet Saray, Turkmens in the Age of Imperialism: A Study of the Turkmen People and Their Incorporation into the Russian Empire (1989).Edward Allworth David Roger Smith Gavin R.G. Hambly Denis Sinor

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Universalium. 2010.

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