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Turkmenistan is a Central Asian country bordered on the west by the Caspian Sea and otherwise surrounded by Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Included within the boundaries of Turkmenistan is the Caspian island of Ogurja Ada and some smaller islands.

The area of Turkmenistan has been inhabited since the Neolithic era. Because of its position along the Silk Road, Turkmenistan was frequently invaded and occupied. First, the Persians came, and then Alexander the Great. The region was occupied by the Scythians, and then the Parthians came, forming an empire that included much of what is now Iran and Turkmenistan. The land was fought over by Persians, Huns, and Turks; then the Mongols, under Genghis Khan, invaded in the 13th century, occupying the region until the Uzbeks overthrew them two centuries later.

The Russian military began entering the region in the 1800s, annexing portions of the region in 1868. Hoping for independence from the Khans, the people of western Turkmenistan joined the Russian empire willingly. In 1879, a force of Turkmen fought off a large Russian force but was defeated in the same place two years later. All of Turkmenistan was under the control of Russia by the turn of the 20th century.

Taking advantage of the distraction of the Russian Revolution of 1917, anti-Bolshevik forces established an independent state of Transcapia, with some assistance from the British, but the newly formed Soviet Union retook all of Turkmenistan by 1920 and declared it part of the USSR in 1925. During Soviet rule, Turkmenistan was regarded as a remote outpost. While Moscow controlled the region's politics, Turkmenistan was closed off to foreigners, including most Soviet citizens.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan declared itself independent. However, the former head of the Communist Party in Turkmenistan was elected president in an uncontested election. In 1999, Turkmenistan's constitution was amended to allow him to be president for life. No opposition to the government was permitted, and any protests were put down immediately.

In 2006, President Niyazov died unexpectedly, after which his health minister, Berdimuhamedow, became acting president. He was elected in the country's first contested election in 2007 and, as of this writing (2018), he continues to serve in that capacity.

The Turkmen government is a unitarian authoritarian presidential republic. The former Communist Party, now known as the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, is the dominant political party.

Turkmenistan has the sixth-largest natural gas reserve in the world but has suffered from inadequate export routes for natural gas and from heavy debt obligations. The country also exports cotton, with most of its arable land planted in cotton.

Turkmenistan is divided into its capital city of Ashgabat and five regions: Ahal, Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap, and Mary.

Turkmenistan is approximately the size of the US state of California. Besides its coastline on the Caspian Sea, the Volga Don Canal allows for access to the Black Sea. More than 80% of the country is desert, with mountain ranges in the south and southwest. Its rivers, the largest of which is the Amu Darya, have been important in the development of the country, but mass irrigation projects have contributed to the drying up of the Aral Sea and reduced the flow of its rivers, resulting in environmental problems for Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as well.

Turkmenistan experiences frequent earthquakes, particularly in the south.

The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen, which is similar to that in use in Turkey and Azerbaijan. Russian is understood by most people in Turkmenistan, but less so among the younger generation.

Nearly 90% of Turkmen are Muslim, with most of the remainder identifying with the Eastern Orthodox Church, although there are small communities of Protestants, Jews, Baha'is, and Hare Krishnas.

The focus of websites listed in this category is, of course, Turkmenistan. Sites whose topics are focused on Turkmenistan are appropriate for this category regardless of where they are hosted. News sites, for example, may be hosted outside of the country for fear of government repression. Sites representing businesses, industries, schools, religious institutions, or other entities in Turkmenistan may also be listed in this category.

 

 

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