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Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1924. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President Saparmurat 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 were to be expanded. The Turkmenistan Government is actively seeking to develop alternative petroleum transportation routes in order to break Russia's pipeline monopoly.


Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan

Geographic coordinates:

40 00 N, 60 00 E


total: 488,100 sq km
land: 488,100 sq km
water: NEGL

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)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


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)
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, sulfur, salt

Land use:

arable land: 4.51%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 95.35% (2005)

Irrigated land:

18,000 sq km (2003)

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


5,042,920 (July 2006 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) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 21.8 years
male: 20.9 years
female: 22.7 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.83% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

27.61 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

8.6 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 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 (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 72.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 76.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 68 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 61.83 years
male: 58.43 years
female: 65.41 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.37 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2004 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

less than 200 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 100 (2004 est.)


noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen

Ethnic groups:

Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)


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% (1999 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type:

republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch



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

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
elections: People's Council - last held in April 2003 (next to be held December 2008); Mejlis - last held 19 December 2004 (next to be held December 2008)
election results: Mejlis - DPT 100%; seats by party - DPT 50; note - all 50 elected officials are members of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan and are preapproved by President NIYAZOV
note: in late 2003, a new law was adopted, reducing the powers of the Mejlis and making the Halk Maslahaty the supreme legislative organ; the Halk Maslahaty can now legally dissolve the Mejlis, and the president is now able to participate in the Mejlis as its supreme leader; the Mejlis can no longer adopt or amend the constitution, or announce referendums or its elections; since the president is both the "Chairman for Life" of the Halk Maslahaty and the supreme leader of the Mejlis, the 2003 law has the effect of making him the sole authority of both the executive and legislative branches of government

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)

Economy - overview:

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 tenth-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. In 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 20% to 30% per year in 2003-2005, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. In 2005, Ashgabat sought to raise natural gas export prices to its main customers, Russia and Ukraine, from $44 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) to $66 per tcm. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, the burden of foreign debt, the government's irrational use of oil and gas revenues, and its unwillingness to adopt market-oriented reforms. Turkmenistan's economic statistics are state secrets, and GDP and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the rate of GDP growth is uncertain.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$30.02 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$14.13 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

IMF estimate: 11%
note: official government statistics show 21.4% growth, but these estimates are widely regarded as unreliable (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$6,100 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 26.9%
industry: 39.5%
services: 33.6% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

2.32 million (2003 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 13.8%
services: 38% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

60% (2004 est.)

Population below poverty line:

58% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

40.8 (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

10% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

25.6% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.401 billion
expenditures: $1.542 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cotton, grain; livestock


natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing

Industrial production growth rate:

22% (2003 est.)

Electricity - production:

11.41 billion kWh (2004 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

8.847 billion kWh (2002)

Electricity - exports:

1.136 billion kWh (2004)

Oil - production:

203,400 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - consumption:

80,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

273 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

54.6 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

15.5 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - exports:

38.6 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

2.01 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

-$204.3 million (2005 est.)


$4.7 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, cotton fiber, textiles

Exports - partners:

Ukraine 46.6%, Iran 17.3%, Turkey 4.2%, Italy 4.1% (2004)


$4.175 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners:

US 11.8%, Russia 9.7%, UAE 9.2%, Ukraine 9%, Turkey 8.6%, Germany 8%, France 5%, Georgia 4.6%, Iran 4.5% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$3.358 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$2.4 billion to $5 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$16 million from the US (2001)

Currency (code):

Turkmen manat (TMM)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

376,100 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

52,000 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: poorly developed
domestic: NA
international: country code - 993; 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)

Television broadcast stations:

4 (government owned and programmed) (2004)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

557 (2005)

Internet users:

36,000 (2005)


39 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 22
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 14 (2005)


1 (2005)


gas 6,549 km; oil 1,395 km (2004)


total: 2,440 km
broad gauge: 2,440 km 1.520-m gauge (2004)


total: 24,000 km
paved: 19,488 km
unpaved: 4,512 km (1999)


1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal important inland waterways) (2006)

Merchant marine:

total: 8 ships (1000 GRT or over) 22,870 GRT/25,801 DWT
by type: barge carrier 1, cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

Ground Forces, Artillery and Rocket Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2006)

Disputes - international:

cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; bilateral talks continue with Azerbaijan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian; demarcation of land boundary with Kazakhstan has started but Caspian seabed delimitation remains stalled

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 12,085 (Tajikistan) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan