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A country lying east of the Caspian Sea and north of Iran.


Turkmenistan is in an arid region; it contains the greater part of the Kara Kum desert, which has important mineral resources. The oases produce cotton and mulberry trees (for silkworms), while livestock roam the semi‐desert areas. Oil and natural gas are found in the west, on the Caspian coastal plain.


Turkmenistan is economically dependent on its large reserves of oil and natural gas. Coal is mined and heavy industry concentrates on chemicals, engineering, and metal‐processing; light industry includes carpet‐making and food‐ and textile‐processing. Cotton is the chief crop, and sheep, horses, and camels are raised.


Turkmen never experienced political unity until conquered by the Russians in 1869. Even then fierce resistance lasted until 1881, and there was a rebellion in 1916. In 1918 a Social Revolutionary Transcaspian Republic was proclaimed. It was briefly supported by British troops until April 1919, after which it was conquered by the Red Army. In 1924 the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was formed, and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1925. It declared its sovereignty in August 1990 and its independence in October 1991. Turkmenistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991. A new constitution in March 1992 increased the powers of its executive President Saparmuradi Niyazov, and allowed only ethnic Turkmen to work in state enterprises. The extension of President Niyazov's term of office was approved in a referendum in 1994, and in 1999 Niyazov became President for life. All seats in the legislative elections later that year were won by the former communists, renamed the Turkmen Democratic Party. The elections of 1999 and 2004 produced the same result.




488,100 sq km (186,400 sq miles)


4,833,000 (2005)




Sunni Muslim; Eastern Orthodox

Ethnic Groups:

Turkmen 79.2%; Uzbek 9.0%; Russian 3.0%; Kazakh 2.5%


Turkoman (official); Russian; minority languages

International Organizations:

UN; OSCE; Commonwealth of Independent States; Euro‐Atlantic Partnership Council; Non‐Aligned Movement

Subjects: History.

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