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Central Asia :: Turkmenistan
page last updated on October 28, 2009
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Location of Turkmenistan
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Introduction ::Turkmenistan
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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.
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Geography ::Turkmenistan
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Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
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40 00 N, 60 00 E
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total: 488,100 sq km
country comparison to the world: 52
land: 469,930 sq km
water: 18,170 sq km
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slightly larger than California
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total: 3,736 km
border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km
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0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
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none (landlocked)
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subtropical desert
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flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west
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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
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petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt
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arable land: 4.51%
permanent crops: 0.14%
other: 95.35% (2005)
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18,000 sq km (2003)
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60.9 cu km (1997)
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total: 24.65 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
per capita: 5,104 cu m/yr (2000)
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NA
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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
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
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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
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People ::Turkmenistan
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4,884,887 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
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0-14 years: 28.9% (male 713,698/female 697,222)
15-64 years: 66.9% (male 1,618,678/female 1,646,992)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 90,352/female 117,945) (2009 est.)
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total: 24.4 years
male: 24.1 years
female: 24.8 years (2009 est.)
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1.141% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
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19.69 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
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6.31 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
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-1.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
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urban population: 49% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 45.36 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 56
male: 53.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 36.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 67.87 years
country comparison to the world: 153
male: 64.94 years
female: 70.95 years (2009 est.)
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2.22 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
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less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
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fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
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fewer than 100 (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
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noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen
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Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)
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Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
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Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.3% (1999 est.)
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3.9% of GDP (1991)
country comparison to the world: 108
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Government ::Turkmenistan
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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
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republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
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name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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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)
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27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
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Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
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adopted 18 May 1992
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based on civil law system and Islamic law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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18 years of age; universal
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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%
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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
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Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
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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
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NA
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ADB, CIS, 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, SCO (guest), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
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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
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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
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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
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Economy ::Turkmenistan
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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.
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$29.78 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
$26.95 billion (2007 est.)
$24.17 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$29.61 billion (2008 est.)
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10.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
11.5% (2007 est.)
9% (2006 est.)
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$6,200 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 131
$5,600 (2007 est.)
$5,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 9.1%
industry: 39%
services: 51.9% (2008 est.)
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13.51 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
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agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 14%
services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
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60% (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
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30% (2004 est.)
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lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
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40.8 (1998)
country comparison to the world: 59
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1.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
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revenues: $1.667 billion
expenditures: $1.407 billion (2008 est.)
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13% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
11.3% (2007 est.)
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$NA
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cotton, grain; livestock
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natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
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-1.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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13.99 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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10.45 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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1.46 billion kWh (2007 est.)
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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189,400 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
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112,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
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84,770 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
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2,542 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 173
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600 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
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70.5 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
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21 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
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48.5 billion cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 7
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
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2.662 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
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$4.657 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$3.285 billion (2007 est.)
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$11.92 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
$7.919 billion (2007 est.)
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gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
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Ukraine 41.6%, Iran 14%, Poland 9.6%, Hungary 7.8% (2008)
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$5.666 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
$3.615 billion (2007 est.)
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machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
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Russia 16.6%, China 14.7%, Turkey 14.6%, UAE 10.8%, Ukraine 7.2%, Germany 5.8%, Iran 5.3% (2008)
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$13.91 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 60
$13.19 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$1.4 billion (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
note: some estimates put this figure as high as $5 billion
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Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar - 14,250 (as of 1 May 2008 est.)
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Communications ::Turkmenistan
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495,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 98
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810,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 146
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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; mobile telephone usage is expanding with Russia's Mobile Telesystems (MTS) the primary service provider
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 (2008)
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AM 16, FM 8, shortwave 2 (1998)
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4 (government-owned and programmed) (2004)
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.tm
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755 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 164
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75,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 161
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Transportation ::Turkmenistan
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28 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 120
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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 (2009)
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total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
under 914 m: 4 (2009)
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1 (2009)
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gas 6,417 km; oil 1,457 km (2008)
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total: 2,980 km
country comparison to the world: 56
broad gauge: 2,980 km 1.520-m gauge (2008)
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total: 58,592 km
country comparison to the world: 75
paved: 47,577 km
unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)
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1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 56
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total: 7
country comparison to the world: 127
by type: cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2008)
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Turkmenbasy
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Military ::Turkmenistan
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Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2009)
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18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)
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males age 16-49: 1,316,698
females age 16-49: 1,331,005 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 1,024,884
females age 16-49: 1,147,714 (2009 est.)
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male: 57,021
female: 56,064 (2009 est.)
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3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
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Transnational Issues ::Turkmenistan
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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
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refugees (country of origin): 11,173 (Tajikistan); less than 1,000 (Afghanistan) (2007)
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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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