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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."



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

Geographic coordinates

40.00° N, 60.00° E

Area 53/257

total: 488,100 sq km

land: 469,930 sq km

water: 18,170 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than California

Land boundaries

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)

Maritime claims

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


mean elevation:

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

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt

Land use

agricultural land: 72%

arable land 4.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 67.8%

forest: 8.8%

other: 19.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

19,910 sq km (2006)

Total renewable water resources

24.77 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 27.95 cu km/yr (3%/3%/94%)

per capita: 5,752 cu m/yr (2004)

Natural hazards


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

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

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

People and Society


noun: Turkmen(s)

adjective: Turkmen

Ethnic groups

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%

Population 120/238

5,231,422 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

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.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.9%

youth dependency ratio: 41.7%

elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%

potential support ratio: 16.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 27.1 years

male: 26.6 years

female: 27.5 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 106/233

1.14% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 89/224

19.4 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 158/225

6.13 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 163/222

-1.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 50% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.94% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ASHGABAT (capital) 746,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

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.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.6 (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 89/184

42 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 60/224

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.)

Life expectancy at birth 157/224

total population: 69.78 years

male: 66.77 years

female: 72.93 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 109/224

2.09 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

48% (2006)

Health expenditures 190/191

2% of GDP (2013)

Hospital bed density

4 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


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.)

Sanitation facility access


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.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 125/191

18.8% (2014)

Education expenditures

3% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 11 years (2014)


Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Turkmenistan

local long form: none

local short form: Turkmenistan

former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type

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)

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)


27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

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)

Legal system

civil law system with Islamic law influences

International law organization participation

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

Executive branch

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%

Legislative branch

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

Judicial branch

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

Political parties and leaders

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

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

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

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; 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

National symbol(s)

Akhal-Teke horse; national colors: green, white

National anthem

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 - overview

Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and 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. Hydrocarbon exports (mainly natural gas) make up 31% of Turkmenistan’s GDP, with 60% of gas exports going to China; Russia and Iran buying the remainder. Ashgabat has explored two initiatives to bring gas to new markets: a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Both face major financing and security hurdles and are unlikely to be completed soon.

Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments under presidents NIYAZOW (1991-2006) and BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 2007) have made little progress on improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, and combatting corruption, limiting economic development outside the energy sector. High energy prices in the mid-2000’s allowed the government to undertake extensive development and social spending, including providing heavy utility subsidies.

Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued the manat by 19%, and downward pressure on the currency continues. Turkmenistan continues to report GDP growth of nearly 10% per year and claims substantial foreign currency reserves, but non-transparent data limit international institutions’ ability to verify this information.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 85/230

$90.29 billion (2015 est.)

$83.2 billion (2014 est.)

$75.42 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$44.36 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 6/225

8.5% (2015 est.)

10.3% (2014 est.)

10.2% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 103/230

$15,600 (2015 est.)

$14,400 (2014 est.)

$13,000 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 9/179

32.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

19.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

11.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 50%

government consumption: 12.5%

investment in fixed capital: 27.4%

investment in inventories: -0.1%

exports of goods and services: 35.5%

imports of goods and services: -25.3%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 12.7%

industry: 49.3%

services: 37.9% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, grain, melons; livestock


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

Industrial production growth rate 17/202

7% (2015 est.)

Labor force 118/233

2.305 million (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 48.2%

industry: 14%

services: 37.8% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate 124/207

11% (2014 est.)

10.6% (2013)

Population below poverty line

0.2% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.6%

highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 58/144

40.8 (1998)


revenues: $6.229 billion

expenditures: $6.457 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 202/219

14% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 43/220

-0.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 217/226

16% (2015 est.)

11% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 75/156

5% (31 December 2014)

5% (31 December 2013)

Stock of narrow money 143/192

$1.326 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.255 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 102/193

$12.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$5.632 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 75/191

$28.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$13.09 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance 173/197

-$6.021 billion (2015 est.)

-$2.781 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 70/224

$21.04 billion (2015 est.)

$20.84 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber

Exports - partners

China 69.7%, Turkey 4.6% (2014)

Imports 85/223

$14.82 billion (2015 est.)

$15.92 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners

Turkey 25.1%, Russia 13%, China 10.7%, UAE 7%, US 5.1%, Ukraine 4.9% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 57/170

$22.64 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$26.65 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 178/206

$522.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$501.8 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 105/120

$3.061 billion (2013 est.)

$3.117 billion (2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar -

3.5 (2015 est.)

2.85 (2014 est.)

2.85 (2013 est.)

2.85 (2012 est.)

2.85 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 73/220

22.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption 85/219

11.75 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 36/218

2.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports 213/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 79/214

4.275 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 32/214

100% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 196/214

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 209/214

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 135/212

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Crude oil - production 35/214

242,900 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 41/214

60,910 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 138/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 48/215

600 million bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 59/214

171,000 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 66/212

144,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 59/214

44,130 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 212/213

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 10/216

84.8 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 32/215

24 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 6/215

60.8 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 145/214

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 3/212

17.5 trillion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 52/212

64.98 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 91/219

total subscriptions: 620,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 103/217

total: 7.2 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 139 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

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

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)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 12, FM 9, shortwave 2 (2008)

Television broadcast stations

4 (government-owned and programmed) (2008)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 176/232

714 (2012)

Internet users 133/217

total: 414,300

percent of population: 8.0% (2014 est.)


Airports 126/236

26 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

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)

Airports - with unpaved runways

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)

Railways 57/136

total: 2,980 km

broad gauge: 2,980 km 1.520-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 71/223

total: 58,592 km

paved: 47,577 km

unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)

Waterways 55/107

1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2011)

Merchant marine 110/156

total: 11

by type: cargo 4, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 5, refrigerated cargo 1 (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Caspian Sea - Turkmenbasy

Military and Security

Military branches

Turkmen Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2013)

Military service age and obligation

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)

Transnational Issues

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; bilateral talks continue with Azerbaijan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 7,511 (2014)

Illicit drugs

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