Facts about Turkmenistan

World Facts Index

TurkmenistanEastern Turkmenistan for centuries formed part of the Persian province of Khurasan; in medieval times Merv (today known as Mary) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1924. It achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects were to be expanded. The Turkmenistan Government is actively seeking to develop alternative petroleum transportation routes to break Russia's pipeline monopoly. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential electoral process in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a vice premier under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president.

Geography of Turkmenistan

Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
40 00 N, 60 00 E
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
0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
subtropical desert
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
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
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

Population of Turkmenistan

5,179,571 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 35.2% (male 913,988/female 863,503)
15-64 years: 60.7% (male 1,501,486/female 1,557,155)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 79,227/female 127,561)
Median age:
21.8 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
72.56 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 61.83 years
male: 58.43 years
female: 65.41 years
Fertility rate:
3.37 children born/woman
noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen
Ethnic groups:
Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6%
Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.3%


Country name:
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat): Ahal Welayaty (Ashgabat), Balkan Welayaty (Balkanabat), Dashoguz Welayaty, Lebap Welayaty (Turkmenabat), Mary Welayaty
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
adopted 18 May 1992
Legal system:
based on civil law system
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW; note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term.
Legislative branch:
under the 1992 constitution, there are two parliamentary bodies, a unicameral People's Council or Halk Maslahaty (supreme legislative body of up to 2,500 delegates, some of whom are elected by popular vote and some of whom are appointed; meets at least yearly) and a unicameral Parliament or Mejlis (50 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms); membership is scheduled to be increased to 65 seats
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)


Turkmenistan is a largely desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and large gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton; formerly it was the world's 10th-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to an almost 50% decline in cotton exports. 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. From 1998-2005, Turkmenistan 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 rose by an average of roughly 15% per year from 2003-07, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, a poor educational system, government misuse of oil and gas revenues, and Ashgabat's reluctance to adopt market-oriented reforms. In the past, Turkmenistan's economic statistics were state secrets. The new government has established a State Agency for Statistics, but GDP numbers and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the rate of GDP growth is uncertain. Since his election, President BERDIMUHAMEDOW has sought to improve the health and education systems, ordered unification of the country's dual currency exchange rate, begun decreasing state subsidies for gasoline, signed an agreement to build a gas line to China, and created a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. All of these moves hint that the new post-NYYAZOW government will work to create a friendlier foreign investment environment.

$26.92 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 20.9%
industry: 38%
services: 41.1%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
2.32 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 13.8%
services: 37%
revenues: $1.401 billion
expenditures: $1.542 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
other: 0%
natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
cotton, grain; livestock
gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, cotton fiber, textiles
Export partners:
Ukraine 44.7%, Iran 16.7%, Hungary 5.6%
machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
Import partners:
UAE 11.2%, Ukraine 10.5%, Turkey 9.4%, US 9.2%, Russia 9.2%, Iran 5.5%, Georgia 5.4%, Germany 5.4%, Kazakhstan 4.3%
Turkmen manat (TMM)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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