Turkmenistan is a country of deserts and oases, of distinctive historical and cultural traditions. Turkmenistan is perhaps one of the most interesting countries in Central Asia. As the cradle of many cultures and civilizations and as an ancient center on the Great Silk Road, Turkmenistan boasts many monuments of history and culture. The country is home to a distinctive population with carefully preserved old traditions. Here you can discover very diverse forms of landscape, from picturesque mountain ridges to desert sands which seem at first glance to be lifeless, from green oases to the many kilometers of sea coast.

Across modern Turkmenistan there are a number of architectural monuments which in ancient times were the most important stops along the “Silk Road” – ancient cities like Mashad-Mesrian in Dehistan Parau near Kizil Arvat, Shahrislam in the Bahard region, Nisa, Annau, Abiverd, Namazga Tepe, Altyn-Tepe near Ashgabat, Seraks, ancient Merv, Margush, Amul near Turkmenabat, Kunya Urgench, Shakhsanam near Dashoguz.

The “Great Silk Road” crossed the territory of modern Turkmenistan which was a symbol of the cultural integration of East and West. Already in 2000 BC, trade caravans along the Great Silk Road began their itinerary in Xi’an, crossed Central Asia and India to the shores of the Black and Mediterranean seas. 

General Information

Turkmenistan is located in the south-western part of Central Asia. 

The territory is 488,100 sq.km. (52nd place). The length of the territory from west to east is 1100 km, from north to south 650 km. It has common borders with Afghanistan (744 km) and Iran (992) from the south, with Kazakhstan (379 km) and Uzbekistan (1621) from the north, with the Caspian Sea from the west – the country has no access to the ocean. 

The highest point from sea level is the Ayribaba peak with 3139 m. 

The lowest point from sea level is in the Karakum desert 81 m. 

The population counts more than 5.24 million people  according to statistics from 1 January 2013, 48 % of the population is urban, and 52 % rural. The density is 10 people to 1 sq.km. It is in 117th place in the world with its population. 85% are Turkmens, 5% are Uzbeks, 4% are Russians and 6% are others. 

Average life expectancy: 74 

Administrative-territorial division of Turkmenistan is divided into 5 regions, and one city with the rights of a region. 

The capital is Ashgabat with a population of more than 900,000. 

Religion: 89% Muslims, 9% Christians and 2% other religions. 

National currency is manat: 100 tenge.  

Time zone: UTC/GMT +5 

Climate: Turkmenistan is the hottest country in Central Asia. In July and August the temperature in Ashgabat can reach 50°. In general, the climate is extreme continental and dry, with permanent northern winds bringing cold air in winter and hot air in summer with sandstorms. The normal temperature in January is -5° in northern regions, +4° in southern regions, in the Karakum desert -25°-30°. In July the average temperature is +35° in the south, in the north +27°, and in the desert it reaches +50°. 

Nature: Three landscapes predominate in Turkmenistan: Desert plains, oases and mountains. The main rivers are the Amudarya, Murghab and Tedjen. Inside a famous Bakharden cave there is a lake Kou-Ata which is 60 meters underground and where it is possible to swim during the whole year as it is fed with warm hydrogen sulfide sources. 80 % of the territory is covered with desert. The diversity of natural climatic zones attracts tourists with different interests. There are magnificent sea coasts, subtropics of Kopetdag Mountains, traces of dinosaurs in the Kugitanga plateau, beautiful stalactites caves, and the untouched nature of Karri-Kala with its waterfalls gives the impression of being in paradise. 

Natural resources: These natural resources are an important element of Turkmenistan’s economy.  Natural gas and oil lead the way (Turkmenistan has the fifth largest natural gas reserves of 10 countries of the world). According to Turkmen scientists, the gas reserves in the country are estimated at about 23 trillion m3, and oil at more than 12 billion. Nowadays there are 144 oil and gas fields, 40 of them are in operation. Four major oil fields are located on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Today Turkmenistan has, in addition to the gas pipeline to Russia, pipelines to Iran and China. It is also an exporter of electricity, supplied to Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. The country has significant reserves of mirabilite, stone, glauber, sodium, potassium salts, and mineral wax, iodine, bromine, sodium, sulphate and other substances that contribute to the development of the chemical industry.

Turkmenistan, like the rest of Central Asia, is poor in water resources, and reliant on large water reservoirs. The only major river of Turkmenistan, which has its roots outside the country, is the Amu Darya. Karakum Canal – the largest irrigation building in the world, is of great importance as, without it, agriculture would not be possible due to the lack of large river systems.

There are also small rivers: the Murghab and the Tejen. In the west, the river Atrek flows into the Caspian Sea. Most of the rivers are shallow, with dried-up riverbeds. The country significantly lacks water. A major portion of the water is used for irrigation, but water also evaporates or is filtered into the soil.

The Caspian Sea as the largest reservoir of the country is used for navigation and fishing, as well as being a source of water (after desalination) for coastal cities.

Among other water resources we can note a few salt lakes. The largest of them is Sarykamysh Lake in the north-west of the country, which arose on the site of the almost dried-up reservoir as a result of the overflow of irrigation water from the oasis located in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya. 

Tourism: Many tourists planning to travel to Turkmenistan are interested in uncovering the  mystery of Oriental civilization in the ancient city of Margiyana which is famous for its architectural monuments and sensational archaeological findings. The mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar located in the cultural park “Ancient Merv” is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Spa, wellness and medical tourism is also well developed. 

National holidays: January 1 – New Year;

January 12 – Memorial Day;

January 27 – Day of Defenders of the Motherland;

February 19 – Day of the State Flag of Turkmenistan;

March 8 – International Women’s Day;

March 21-22 – Novruz:

Central Asian holiday of spring;

1st Sunday of April the celebration “A drop of water is a grain of Gold”;

The last Sunday of April is a Day of the Akhal-Teke horse;

May 9 – Victory Day;

May 18 – Day of Revival, Unity and Poetry of Makhtumkuli in Turkmenistan;

Last Sunday on May – the Day of Turkmen Carpet;

2nd Sunday of August – Day of Turkmen Melon;

1 September is the day of knowledge;

October 6 is a Day of Remembrance of the victims of the earthquake in 1948

October 27 – Independence Day of Turkmenistan;

1st Saturday of November – Day of Health;

December 12 – Day of Neutrality of Turkmenistan. 

Religious holidays with varying dates:

Ramazan Hait; Kurban Hait. 

National symbols: Turkmenistan`s flag is a rectangular green with a vertical wine-red stripe on which five national guls (carpet patterns) are shown, with a white crescent and five stars on the green. Each of the guls is framed by a carpet ornament. At the bottom of the wine-red stripe there are two olive branches, symbolizing the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan. Together with the carpet guls, they make up a single composition. Each olive branch consists of ten decreasing leaves, arranged in pairs, except for the lower one and the upper one. In the upper left-hand corner there is the crescent and five five-pointed white stars.

Since time immemorial, Turkmens have been using green colors on their flags. So it was, for example, in the Seljuk Empire. This color represents the unity of time. For both ancestors and their descendants, green symbolizes life, earth, the color of grass in pastures, prosperity and peace. The crescent represents the clear sky above the heads of a happy people. Five-pointed white stars are symbol of the five provinces of Turkmenistan. Dual symbols on the flag emphasize the unity of the Turkmen people. The five national carpet guls framed with carpet ornaments also symbolize the provinces. In the symbolism of carpet guls, there is a deep philosophical meaning.

The word “gul” has different interpretations: “gel” – flower, “kel” –lake.  The colors of the four elements: fire (yellow), water (white), air (red), earth (green) are used mainly on their ornaments. The first gul is called “ahaltyke”. The basis of its pattern is the annual cycle of the earth. The gul is symbolically divided into four seasons. In each of its parts there are three ornaments symbolizing months.

On the image of the gul there is also the ancestral wolf and his rearing horse. The second one is “Yomud-Gel”. Its main figure is a symbol of ancient man, raising his hands. In the middle of the gul there is a “gachok” – pattern, symbolizing the sun. The third one is saryk gul. It represents a symbolic image of death: the cyclical pictures 3, 9, 40 and 365 days. This pattern represents the past. In the ornament of the chovdursk gul, the symbolic houses of a bride and bridegroom are shown. Finally, in the pattern of the ersar gul, the ancient priestly unity sign with the image of flag riders can be seen. The connecting link between the carpets is “aralyk-gul”. 

The State Emblem of Turkmenistan is an octagonal green with yellow-golden rim, with two blue and red circles. The circles are separated by yellow-gold stripes of equal size. The main wealth of the country is shown on a green background:

– At the bottom – seven opened white cotton bolls with green leaves;

– In the middle – two ears of yellow wheat on each side of the emblem;

– At the top – a white crescent moon with five-pointed stars.

On the round stripe of a red circle, five main carpet guls are shown: ahalteke, salyr, ersary, chovdur and yomut, symbolizing the friendship and solidarity of the Turkmen people.

The blue circle shows Yanardag, the Akhal-Teke horse of the first and lifelong president of independent neutral Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Turkmenbashi. The horse is the pride of the Turkmen, the personification of a classic example of the unique Akhal-Teke breed. 

Phone code of Turkmenistan: +993 (8-10 993)

Regional codes:

Ashgabat 12

Mary 522

Balkanabad 222

Turkmenabad 422

Dashoguz 322

Turkmenbashi 243