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  Introduction Back To Top

Eastern 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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 24.65 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 5,104 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
60.9 cu km (1997)

Land boundaries:
total: 3,736 km
border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

subtropical desert

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
40 00 N, 60 00 E

Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt

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

flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west

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

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

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

0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than California

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

Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)

Natural hazards:

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

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
3.07 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2004 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.6 years
male: 65.53 years
female: 71.82 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.3% (1999 est.)

Net migration rate:
-3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Median age:
total: 22.6 years
male: 22 years
female: 23.1 years (2008 est.)

5,179,571 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.9% of GDP (1991)

Population growth rate:
1.596% (2008 est.)

Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Death rate:
6.11 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 51.81 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 56.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 47.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2004 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34.2% (male 902,811/female 868,428)
15-64 years: 61.5% (male 1,577,187/female 1,607,353)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 97,480/female 126,312) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
25.07 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmenistani

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Richard M. MILES
embassy: No. 9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street), Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
mailing address: 7070 Ashgabat Place, Washington, DC 20521-7070
telephone: [993] (12) 35-00-45
FAX: [993] (12) 39-26-14

National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 October (1991)

18 years of age; universal

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

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Meret Bairamovich ORAZOW
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral parliament known as the National Assembly (Mejlis) (125 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 14 December 2008 (next to be held December 2013)
election results: 100% of elected officials are members of either the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or its pseudo-civil society parent organization, the Revival Movement, and are preapproved by the president
note: in autumn 2008, the constitution of Turkmenistan was revised to abolish the 2,507-member legislative body known as the People's Council and to expand 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

Legal system:
based on civil law system and Islamic law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Flag description:
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; a white crescent moon representing Islam with five white stars representing the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe

27 October 1991 (from Soviet Union)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW]
note: formal opposition parties are outlawed; 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

name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

adopted 18 May 1992

Executive branch:
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
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 11 February 2007 (next to be held in February 2012)
election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW elected president; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 89.2%, Amanyaz ATAJYKOW 3.2%, other candidates 7.6%

Administrative divisions:
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)

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Ukraine 51.3%, Iran 18.5%, Turkey 5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
9.584 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
$2.897 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$1.4 billion to $5 billion (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:
60% (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:
40,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$5,800 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
11.6% of GDP (2008 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$30.19 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$28.82 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40.8 (1998)

Exchange rates:
Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar - 14,250 (as of 1 May 2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
7.5% (IMF estimate)
note: official government statistics are widely regarded as unreliable (2008 est.)

Labor force:
2.089 million (2004 est.)

Imports - partners:
UAE 14.3%, Russia 11.6%, Turkey 10.3%, China 9.1%, Ukraine 8.7%, Iran 7%, Germany 6.5%, US 5.6% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
18% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 38.8%
services: 50.4% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
5,283 bbl/day (2005)

$9.887 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
19.48 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Turkmen manat (TMM)

Economy - overview:
Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable 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 2003-08, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. A new pipeline to China, set to come online in late 2009 or early 2010, will give Turkmenistan an additional export route for its gas. 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, unified the country's dual currency exchange rate, ordered the redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, increased internet access both in schools and internet cafes, ordered an independent audit of Turkmenistan's gas resources, and created a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. Although foreign investment is encouraged, numerous bureaucratic obstacles from the NYYZOW-era remain.

Natural gas - exports:
49.4 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs

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

Electricity - exports:
1.34 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line:
30% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production:
12.83 billion kWh (2006 est.)

$5.291 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
600 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 14%
services: 37.8% (2004 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
2.832 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$5.501 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
107,400 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)

Exports - commodities:
gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber

Economic aid - recipient:
$28.25 million from the US (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
68.88 billion cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.393 billion
expenditures: $1.42 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
70,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
398,100 (2005)

820,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 16, FM 8, shortwave 2 (1998)

1.225 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
216,900 (2006)

Television broadcast stations:
4 (government-owned and programmed) (2004)

Telephone system:
general assessment: poorly developed
domestic: Turkmentelekom, in cooperation with foreign investors, is planning to upgrade the country's telephone exchanges and install a new digital switching system; mobile-cellular usage remains limited
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 (2006)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

Internet hosts:
640 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2008)

gas 6,441 km; oil 1,361 km (2007)

total: 2,440 km
broad gauge: 2,440 km 1.520-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:

1 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 7
by type: cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 22
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)

total: 58,592 km
paved: 47,577 km
unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
under 914 m: 4 (2007)

28 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,316,698
females age 16-49: 1,331,005 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,064,965
females age 16-49: 1,136,553 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 57,615
female: 55,426 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
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

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 11,173 (Tajikistan); less than 1,000 (Afghanistan) (2007)

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

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