Turkmenistan emerged as an independent state in 1991.
The national capital is Ashgabat. There are five administrative subdivisions, called velayat, or region, each with its own regional capital:
Turkmenistan borders Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the north and east, and Afghanistan and Iran in the south. The country is big: Turkmenistan covers an area of 492,000 square km. It stretches for 1100 km from west to east- from the Caspian Sea to the Amu Darya River, and for 650 km from the Uzbek border in the north to the Iranian border in the south.
The major part of the country is occupied by the Karakum desert (350.000 sq km). 20 per cent of its territory is mountainous and 1 per cent is made up of riverine oases. The Kopetdag range is in the south of Turkmenistan, while the Balkan Mountains are in the west and the Kugitang (or Koytendag) Range is in the east.
Turkmenistan is rich in mineral resources. It possesses the world’s fourth- largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. Turkmenistan is also a major cotton producer, and has a growing textile industry.
Travel in Turkmenistan is entirely safe.
Turkmens adhere to a moderate form of Islam, and are respectful to people of other religions. Local traditions and customs continue to play an important role in the lives of the people. Many Turkmen women wear a large variety of colorful headscarves of their own choice and long colorful, embroidered dresses. Western dress is equally widely accepted.
Tourists intending to travel to Turkmenistan using their own means of transport (vehicle or motor bicycle) are recommended to contact our company directly for details about the related customs procedures, and about the specifics of road rules in the country.
The national language spoken in Turkmenistan is Turkmen, which is a language from the family of Turkic languages. Widely used as a second language is Russian (a Slavic language). While the post-independence generation is increasingly speaking other foreign languages such as English, French and Turkish, you will still find it rewarding to travel and communicate with the assistance of a translator/guide.
While the National History and Ethnography Museum and the Carpet Museum in Ashgabat offer good guided museum tours in a variety of languages, and the staff of most hotels with three stars and up will speak some English, few other sites of interest in the country offer more than basic information in foreign languages.