View Text Low Bandwidth Version
Download Publication
Central Asia :: Turkmenistan
Page last updated on January 05, 2016
view 3 photos of
  • 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 armies, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. In medieval times, Merv (located in present-day Mary province) 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. The Government of Turkmenistan is moving to expand its extraction and delivery projects and has attempted to diversify its gas export routes beyond Russia's 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. Subsequently, decreased Russian purchases, as well as limited purchases by Iran, have made China the dominant buyer of Turkmen gas. 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 reelected in February 2012 with 97% of the vote, in an election described as "a democratic sham."
  • Geography :: TURKMENISTAN

  • Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
    40 00 N, 60 00 E
    total: 488,100 sq km
    land: 469,930 sq km
    water: 18,170 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 53
    slightly larger than California
    total: 4,158 km
    border countries (4): Afghanistan 804 km, Iran 1,148 km, Kazakhstan 413 km, Uzbekistan 1,793 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
    agricultural land: 72%
    arable land 4.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 67.8%
    forest: 8.8%
    other: 19.2% (2011 est.)
    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

  • noun: Turkmen(s)
    adjective: Turkmen
    Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)
    Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
    Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
    5,231,422 (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    0-14 years: 26.14% (male 692,800/female 674,638)
    15-24 years: 19.66% (male 517,312/female 510,945)
    25-54 years: 42.57% (male 1,104,066/female 1,122,896)
    55-64 years: 7.25% (male 178,925/female 200,502)
    65 years and over: 4.38% (male 99,878/female 129,460) (2015 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 47.9%
    youth dependency ratio: 41.7%
    elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%
    potential support ratio: 16.3% (2015 est.)
    total: 27.1 years
    male: 26.6 years
    female: 27.5 years (2015 est.)
    1.14% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 106
    19.4 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    6.13 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 158
    -1.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    urban population: 50% of total population (2015)
    rate of urbanization: 1.94% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    ASHGABAT (capital) 746,000 (2015)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
    42 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    total: 36.82 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 44.13 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 29.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 60
    total population: 69.78 years
    male: 66.77 years
    female: 72.93 years (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    2.09 children born/woman (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    48% (2006)
    2% of GDP (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    4 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 89.1% of population
    rural: 53.7% of population
    total: 71.1% of population
    urban: 10.9% of population
    rural: 46.3% of population
    total: 28.9% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 100% of population
    rural: 98.2% of population
    total: 99.1% of population
    urban: 0% of population
    rural: 1.8% of population
    total: 0.9% of population (2012 est.)
    18.8% (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 125
    3% of GDP (2012)
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 99.7%
    male: 99.8%
    female: 99.6% (2015 est.)
    total: 11 years
    male: 11 years
    female: 11 years (2014)
  • 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 18 May 1992; amended several times, last in 2008; note - in mid-2014 the president established the Constitutional Commission on constitutional reforms (2015)
    civil law system with Islamic law influences
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Turkmenistan
    dual citizenship recognized: yes
    residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note - the president is both 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
    elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 12 February 2012 (next to be held in February 2017)
    election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW reelected president; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 97.1%, Annageldi YAZMYRADOW 1.1%, other candidates 1.8%
    description: unicameral National Assembly or Mejlis (125 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed; members serve 5-year terms); note - in September 2008, a constitutional change abolished a second, 2,507-member People's Council and expanded the membership in the National Assembly to 125 from 65; the powers formerly held by the People's Council were divided between the president and the National Assembly
    elections: last held on 15 December 2013 (next to be held in December 2018)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 47, Organization of Trade and Unions of Turkmenistan 33, Women's Union of Turkmenistan 16, Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs 14, Magtymguly Youth Organization 8, independents 7; note - all of these parties support President BERDIMUHAMIDOW
    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
    Agrarian Party of Turkmenistan or APT [Rezhep BAZAROV] (government created in September 2014, like the PIE, but not represented in parliament)
    Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Kasymguly BABAYEW]
    Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs or PIE [Orazmammet MAMMEDOW]
    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
    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 (since 14 February 2001)
    chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
    FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697
    chief of mission: Ambassador Allan MUSTARD (since 20 January 2015)
    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; national colors: green, white
    name: "Garassyz, Bitarap Turkmenistanyn" (Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem)
    lyrics/music: collective/Veli MUKHATOV
    note: adopted 1997, lyrics revised 2008; following the death of President Saparmurat NYYAZOW, the lyrics were altered to eliminate references to him
  • Economy :: TURKMENISTAN

  • Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and some 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 14% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce.
    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. Two other export initiatives - a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline - are not likely to be realized any time soon.
    Since his election in 2007, President BERDIMUHAMEDOV unified the country's dual currency exchange rate, ordered the redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and transportation services, 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.
    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. The government introduced a privatization plan in 2012. While some small- and medium-size enterprises have been privatized since 2013, the implementation of this initiative has been slow, and privatization goals remain limited.
    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 GDP numbers and other figures that the government makes public are subject to wide margins of error. Based on government-provided data, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported 10.3% GDP growth in 2014. In January 2015, Turkmenistan devalued its local currency, the manat, by 19%.
    $82.4 billion (2014 est.)
    $74.69 billion (2013 est.)
    $67.78 billion (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 87
    $47.93 billion (2014 est.)
    10.3% (2014 est.)
    10.2% (2013 est.)
    11.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    $14,200 (2014 est.)
    $12,900 (2013 est.)
    $11,700 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 108
    19.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
    11.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
    13% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    household consumption: 50%
    government consumption: 12.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 20.7%
    investment in inventories: 0%
    exports of goods and services: 43.7%
    imports of goods and services: -27.3%
    (2014 est.)
    agriculture: 13.2%
    industry: 49.3%
    services: 37.4% (2014 est.)
    cotton, grain, melons; livestock
    natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
    11% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    2.305 million (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 117
    agriculture: 48.2%
    industry: 14%
    services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
    11% (2014 est.)
    10.6% (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    0.2% (2012 est.)
    lowest 10%: 2.6%
    highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
    40.8 (1998)
    country comparison to the world: 57
    revenues: $7.047 billion
    expenditures: $6.699 billion (2014 est.)
    14.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    0.7% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    calendar year
    6% (2014 est.)
    6.8% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    5% (31 December 2014)
    5% (31 December 2013)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    $1.255 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $979.3 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    $5.67 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $4.284 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    $13.09 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $9.965 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    -$2.781 billion (2014 est.)
    -$2.983 billion (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    $20.84 billion (2014 est.)
    $19.9 billion (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
    China 69.7%, Turkey 4.6% (2014)
    $15.92 billion (2014 est.)
    $15.4 billion (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 87
    machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
    Turkey 25.1%, Russia 13%, China 10.7%, UAE 7%, US 5.1%, Ukraine 4.9% (2014)
    $22.64 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $26.65 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    $522.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)
    $501.8 million (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 178
    $3.061 billion (2013 est.)
    $3.117 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar -
    2.85 (2014 est.)
    2.85 (2013 est.)
    2.85 (2012 est.)
    2.85 (2011 est.)
    2.85 (2010 est.)
  • Energy :: TURKMENISTAN

  • 22.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    11.75 billion kWh (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    2.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    4.275 million kW (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    100% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    242,900 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    60,910 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    600 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    171,000 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    144,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    44,130 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    84.8 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 10
    24 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    60.8 billion cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    0 cu m (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    17.5 trillion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    64.98 million Mt (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 52
  • Communications :: TURKMENISTAN

  • total subscriptions: 620,000
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    total: 7.2 million
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 139 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 103
    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; Turkmenistan's first telecommunication satellite was launched in 2015; it is expected to greatly improve connectivity in the country
    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)
    AM 12, FM 9, shortwave 2 (2008)
    4 (government-owned and programmed) (2008)
    total: 414,300
    percent of population: 8.0% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
  • Transportation :: TURKMENISTAN

  • 26 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    total: 21
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
    914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 5
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    under 914 m:
    4 (2013)
    1 (2013)
    gas 7,500 km; oil 1,501 km (2013)
    total: 2,980 km
    broad gauge: 2,980 km 1.520-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 57
    total: 58,592 km
    paved: 47,577 km
    unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    total: 11
    by type: cargo 4, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 5, refrigerated cargo 1 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    major seaport(s): Caspian Sea - Turkmenbasy
  • Military and Security :: TURKMENISTAN

  • Turkmen Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2013)
    18-27 years of age for compulsory male military service; 2-year conscript service obligation; 20 years of age for voluntary service; males may enroll in military schools from age 15 (2015)
    males age 16-49: 1,380,794
    females age 16-49: 1,387,211 (2010 est.)
    males age 16-49: 1,066,649
    females age 16-49: 1,185,538 (2010 est.)
    male: 53,829
    female: 52,988 (2010 est.)
  • 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: 7,511 (2014)
    current situation: Turkmenistan is a source 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, with women and rural inhabitants being the most vulnerable; some Turkmen women and girls are sex trafficked abroad; Turkey is the primary trafficking destination, followed by Russia, the UAE, and, to a lesser extent, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Cyprus, the UK, Sweden, and the US; Turkmen also experience forced labor domestically in the informal construction industry; participation in the cotton harvest is still mandatory for some public sector employees
    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 has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute a significant effort toward meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking; the denial of an internal trafficking problem by some government officials, corruption, and a lack of institutional capacity continued to impede the government’s response to trafficking in 2013; the government reported detailed anti-trafficking law enforcement data for the first time and is making an effort to support anti-trafficking training; the government did not offer services to trafficking victims in 2013 and did not fund NGOs providing care; authorities punished some victims for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked (2014)
    transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan