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Turkmenistan

General information on Turkmenistan

Location

Turkmenistan, the territory of which in the course of history was occupied by almost all major rulers of the East, is now an independent state. Situated in Central Asia, it borders on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Iran. The country’s inhabitants are happy enough to listen to the sound of surf at the Caspian Sea, which is in fact a gigantic saltwater lake having no connection with the ocean.

Area. The country is situated on an area of 491,200 sq km. About 80 % of Turkmenistan’s lands are occupied by deserts. Although barely suitable for agriculture, they contain resources of natural gas large enough to place the country among the world’s leaders in this sphere.

The population

The population of Turkmenistan is 5,169,660 people.

Ethnic composition

Turkmen are the indigenous people of Turkmenistan and make up 91 % of the country’s population, with Uzbeks comprising 3 % of the people and Russians - 2 %. Kazakhs inhabit mostly the northern part of Turkmenistan and the area along the Caspian Sea shore.

Political structure

The country is governed by the president. In the previous decade the political system of the state changed greatly. Until 2006 Saparmurat Niyazov was the permanent president of Turkmenistan, while today’s leader must be elected for a five-year term. Mejlis, the local parliament, performs the legislative functions. Recently political parties have started to appear in the country.

Administrative and territorial division

Turkmenistan is divided into 5 provinces (velayat), with one city, the capital, having the rights of a province.

The capital of the country is Ashgabat with a population of 900,000 people. The city was included in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of buildings of white marble, which, together with an interesting blend of elements of eastern and European architecture, make the capital one of the most beautiful cities in Central Asia.

Official language - Turkmen.

Monetary unit - manat. Use of any other currency for making payments is officially prohibited in the territory of Turkmenistan.

Religions

The overwhelming majority of the population, 89 %, professes the Sunni branch of Islam, with 9 % of the people being the followers of the Christian religion. Only 2 % are representatives of other religious groups.

Turkmenistan has several Islamic holy places, such as cemeteries and medieval tombs, which often attract a number of pilgrims.

Time zones

The whole territory of Turkmenistan lies in one time zone, and the clocks do not switch to summer time. The local time differs unchangeably from the Greenwich Time by +5 hours.

Electric power

Standards B and F sockets with a voltage of 220 V and a frequency of 50 Hz are used throughout Turkmenistan.