Central Asia :: Turkmenistan

Introduction ::Turkmenistan

    Present-day Turkmenistan covers territory that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. The area was ruled in antiquity by various Persian empires, and was conquered by Alexander the Great, Muslim crusaders, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. 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 in the late 1800s, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic; it achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited, have begun to transform the country. Turkmenistan is moving to expand its extraction and delivery projects. The Government of Turkmenistan is actively working to diversify its gas export routes beyond the still important Russian pipeline network. In 2010, new gas export pipelines that carry Turkmen gas to China and to northern Iran began operating, effectively ending the Russian monopoly on Turkmen gas exports. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a deputy cabinet chairman under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president; he was chosen as president again in February 2012, in an election that the OSCE said lacked the freedoms necessary to create a competitive environment.

Geography ::Turkmenistan

    Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
    40 00 N, 60 00 E
    total: 488,100 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 53
    land: 469,930 sq km
    water: 18,170 sq km
    slightly larger than California
    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)
    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
    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
    petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt
    arable land: 3.89%
    permanent crops: 0.12%
    other: 95.98% (2011)
    19,910 sq km (2006)
    24.77 cu km (2011)
    total: 27.95 cu km/yr (3%/3%/94%)
    per capita: 5,752 cu m/yr (2004)
    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
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    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 and Society ::Turkmenistan

Government ::Turkmenistan

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Turkmenistan
    local long form: none
    local short form: Turkmenistan
    former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
    defines itself as a secular democracy and a presidential republic; in actuality displays authoritarian presidential rule, with power concentrated within the presidential administration
    name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
    geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
    time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat) and 1 independent city*: Ahal Welayaty (Anew), 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)
    Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
    adopted 26 September 2008
    civil law system with Islamic law influences
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007)
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term; election last held on 12 February 2012 (next to be held February 2017)
    election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW reelected president; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 97.1%, Annageldi YAZMYRADOW 1.1%, other candidates 1.8%
    unicameral parliament known as the National Assembly (Mejlis) (125 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    elections: last held on 14 December 2008 (next to be held in December 2013)
    election results: 100% of elected officials are members of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan and are preapproved by the president
    note: in 26 September 2008, a new constitution of Turkmenistan abolished a second, 2,507-member legislative body known as the People's Council and expanded the number of deputies in the National Assembly from 65 to 125; the powers formerly held by the People's Council were divided up between the president and the National Assembly
    highest court(s): Supreme Court of Turkmenistan (consists of the court president and 21 associate judges)
    judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president; judge tenure NA
    subordinate courts: provincial, district, and city courts; High Commercial Court; military courts
    Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, Chairman; Kasymguly BABAYEW, DPT Political Council First Secretary]
    Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs or PIE [Orazmammet MAMMEDOW] (party registered 21 August 2012)
    note: a law authorizing the registration of political parties went into effect in January 2012; unofficial, small opposition movements exist abroad; the three most prominent opposition groups-in-exile are the National Democratic Movement of Turkmenistan (NDMT), the Republican Party of Turkmenistan, and the Watan (Fatherland) Party; the NDMT was led by former Foreign Minister Boris SHIKHMURADOV until his arrest and imprisonment in the wake of the 25 November 2002 attack on President NYYAZOW's motorcade
    ADB, CIS (associate member, has not ratified the 1993 CIS charter although it participates in meetings and held the chairmanship of the CIS in 2012), EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO
    chief of mission: Ambassador Mered Bairamovich ORAZOW
    chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
    FAX: [1] (202) 280-1003
    chief of mission: Ambassador Robert E. PATTERSON
    embassy: No. 9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street), Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
    mailing address: 7070 Ashgabat Place, Washington, DC 20521-7070
    telephone: [993] (12) 94-00-45
    FAX: [993] (12) 94-26-14
    green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five tribal guls (designs used in producing carpets) stacked above two crossed olive branches; five white stars and a white crescent moon appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe; the green color and crescent moon represent Islam; the five stars symbolize the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan; the guls reflect the national identity of Turkmenistan where carpet-making has long been a part of traditional nomadic life
    note: the flag of Turkmenistan is the most intricate of all national flags
    Akhal-Teke horse
    name: "Garassyz, Bitarap Turkmenistanyn" (Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem)

    lyrics/music: collective/Veli MUKHATOV
    note: adopted 1997, lyrics revised 2008; following the death of the President Saparmurat NYYAZOW, the lyrics were altered to eliminate references to the former president

Economy ::Turkmenistan

    Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Although agriculture accounts for roughly 8% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce. Turkmenistan's authoritarian regime has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton export revenues to sustain its inefficient and highly corrupt 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 2003-08, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. Additional pipelines to China, that began operation in early 2010, and increased pipeline capacity to Iran, have expanded Turkmenistan''s export routes for its gas. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of endemic corruption, a poor educational system, government misuse of oil and gas revenues, and Ashgabat''s reluctance to adopt market-oriented reforms. The majority of Turkmenistan''s economic statistics are state secrets. The present government established a State Agency for Statistics, but GDP numbers and other publicized figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the rate of GDP growth is uncertain. Since his election, President BERDIMUHAMEDOW unified the country''s dual currency exchange rate, ordered the redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, and initiated development of a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. Although foreign investment is encouraged, and some improvements in macroeconomic policy have been made, numerous bureaucratic obstacles impede international business activity.
    $49.75 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    $44.84 billion (2011 est.)
    $39.11 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $33.68 billion (2012 est.)
    11% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    14.7% (2011 est.)
    9.2% (2010 est.)
    $8,900 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    $8,100 (2011 est.)
    $7,200 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    14.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    11.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
    12% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 50%
    government consumption: 12.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 10.6%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 62.7%
    imports of goods and services: -36.2%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 7.5%
    industry: 24.4%
    services: 68.1% (2012 est.)
    cotton, grain, melons; livestock
    natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
    6.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    2.3 million (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    agriculture: 48.2%
    industry: 14%
    services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
    60% (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 198
    30% (2004 est.)
    lowest 10%: 2.6%
    highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
    40.8 (1998)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    revenues: $26.4 billion
    expenditures: $26.9 billion (2012 est.)
    78.4% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    -1.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    calendar year
    8.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    12% (2011 est.)
    $813 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    $723.9 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.652 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    $1.41 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $8.702 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    $3.193 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.496 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    $1.005 billion (2011 est.)
    $15.4 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    $13.84 billion (2011 est.)
    gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
    China 66%, Ukraine 7%, Italy 4.5% (2012)
    $10.19 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    $9.368 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
    China 20.1%, Turkey 17.5%, Russia 13%, UAE 6.9%, Germany 4.8%, UK 4.4% (2012)
    $20.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    $18.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $428.9 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    $451.5 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar -
    2.85 (2012 est.)
    2.85 (2011 est.)
    2.85 (2010 est.)
    2.85 (2009)
    14,250 (2008)

Energy ::Turkmenistan

Communications ::Turkmenistan

    547,000 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 94
    3.511 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    general assessment: telecommunications network remains underdeveloped and progress toward improvement is slow; strict government control and censorship inhibits liberalization and modernization
    domestic: Turkmentelekom, in cooperation with foreign partners, has installed high-speed fiber-optic lines and has upgraded most of the country's telephone exchanges and switching centers with new digital technology; combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity is about 80 per 100 persons; Russia's Mobile Telesystems, the only foreign mobile-cellular service provider in Turkmenistan, had its operating license suspended in December 2010 but was able to resume operations in September 2012
    international: country code - 993; linked by fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; an exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat (2012)
    broadcast media is government controlled and censored; 7 state-owned TV and 4 state-owned radio networks; satellite dishes and programming provide an alternative to the state-run media; officials sometimes limit access to satellite TV by removing satellite dishes (2007)
    714 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    80,400 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 166

Transportation ::Turkmenistan

Military ::Turkmenistan

Transnational Issues ::Turkmenistan

    cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2005, but Caspian seabed delimitation remains stalled with Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kazakhstan due to Turkmenistan's indecision over how to allocate the sea's waters and seabed; bilateral talks continue with Azerbaijan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian
    stateless persons: 8,947 (2012)
    current situation: Turkmenistan is a source, and to a much lesser degree, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Turkmen in search of work in other countries are forced to work in textile sweatshops, construction, and domestic service; some Turkmen women and girls are sex trafficked abroad; Turkey is the primary trafficking destination, followed by Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and, to a lesser extent, the UK, Kazakhstan, and Cyprus; labor trafficking occurs within Turkmenistan, particularly in the construction industry, with victims identified from Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Turkmenistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government continues to convict trafficking offenders under its anti-trafficking statute; it employs no formal victim identification procedures and does not provide services or fund NGOs to provide services to victims; authorities punish some victims for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked; there continues to be no governmental coordinating body for anti-trafficking efforts or a national anti-trafficking action plan (2013)
    transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan