Official Name: Turkmenistan
Established: 1924 (Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic ) / 31 August 1991 (Independence from PSUSSR)
Population: 5.6 million (2022 estimate)
Religion: Muslim (93%)
Official Languages: Turkmen
Order of Visit: 77
Planned First Visit: 30 May 2023
Planned Last Visit: 03 June 2023
Duration: 5 Days
Must Do: To be discovered!
Cities to be visited: Dashoguz, Darvaza, Ashgabat
Location and Geography
Turkmenistan is a landlocked country located in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north, east and northeast, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest and the Caspian Sea to the west. Turkmenistan has an area of 491,210 square kilometres. Turkmenistan is the world’s 52nd-largest country.
History and Culture
Historically inhabited by the Indo-Iranians, the written history of Turkmenistan begins with its annexation by the Achaemenid Empire of Ancient Iran. Later, in the 8th century AD, Turkic-speaking Oghuz tribes moved from Mongolia into present-day Central Asia. Part of a powerful confederation of tribes, these Oghuz formed the ethnic basis of the modern Turkmen population.
In the second half of the 19th century, northern Turkmens were the main military and political power in the Khanate of Khiva (modern day Uzbekistan).
Russian forces began occupying Turkmen territory late in the 19th century. The Russians eventually overcame the Uzbek khanates. In 1924, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was formed. By the late 1930s, Soviet (USSR) reorganization of agriculture had destroyed what remained of the nomadic lifestyle in Turkmenistan, and Moscow controlled political life.
On 26 December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Then-communist leader Saparmurat Niyazov continued as Turkmenistan’s chief of state, replacing communism with a unique brand of independent nationalism. In 1999 Niyazov abolish Presidential election effectively becoming president for life. In 2005, Niyazov exercised his dictatorial power by closing all hospitals outside Ashgabat and all rural libraries.
The sudden death of Niyazov at the end of 2006 left a complete vacuum of power. Then Deputy Prime Minister Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, assumed power and in 2022 son Serdar Berdimuhamedow took over, establishing a political dynasty in Turkmenistan with an established dictatorship.
Turkmenistan possesses the world’s fifth largest reserves of natural gas. Most of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. Turkmenistan is an observer state in the Organisation of Turkic States, the Türksoy community and a member of the United Nations.
What has dawn me to explore Turkmenistan?
To experience a country that some call the North Korea with oil. To see the Darvaza Gas Crater also known as ‘The Gates to Hell’, explore the dazzling marble city of Ashgabat, see and experience a country like none I’ve ever visited before with extremely limited democratic history in the top leadership positions and a strong military combined with a strong history of independence from other countries except for when part of the USSR.
This visit is part of the Five Stans of Silk Road G Adventures tour that will see me visiting; Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan.