Turkmenistan [Country Flag of Turkmenistan]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Turkmenistan]



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

Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 60 00 E

Map references: Commonwealth of Independent States

total: 488,100 sq km
land: 488,100 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than California

Land boundaries:
total: 3,736 km
border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km

Coastline: 0 km
note: Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: subtropical desert

Terrain: flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sarygamysh Koli -110 m
highest point: Ayrybaba 3,139 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 63%
forests and woodland: 8%
other: 26% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 13,000 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment—current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salinization, 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, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: landlocked


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Population: 4,297,629 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 39% (male 843,839; female 813,837)
15-64 years: 57% (male 1,211,477; female 1,249,085)
65 years and over: 4% (male 67,842; female 111,549) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.6% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 26.24 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 8.7 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 72.89 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 61.3 years
male: 57.68 years
female: 65.11 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.26 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen

Ethnic groups: Turkmen 77%, Uzbek 9.2%, Russian 6.7%, Kazakh 2%, other 5.1% (1995)

Religions: Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

Languages: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 97% (1989 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: TX

Government type: republic

National capital: Ashgabat

Administrative divisions: 5 welayatlar (singular—welayat): Ahal Welayaty (Ashgabat), Balkan Welayaty (Nebitdag), Dashhowuz Welayaty (formerly Tashauz), Lebap Welayaty (Charjew), Mary Welayaty
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

Independence: 27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 27 October (1991)

Constitution: adopted 18 May 1992

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Saparmurat NIYAZOV (since 27 October 1990, when the first direct presidential election occurred); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Saparmurat NIYAZOV; note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government; Deputy Chairmen of the Cabinet of Ministers Mukhamed ABALAKOV (since NA), Orazgeldy AYDOGDIYEV (since NA 1992), Hudaayguly HALYKOV (since NA 1996), Rejep SAPAROV (since NA 1992), Boris SHIKHMURADOV (since NA 1993), Batyr SARJAYEV (since NA 1993), Ilaman SHIKHIYEV (since NA 1995), Yolly GURBANMURADOV (since NA 1997), Saparmurat NURIYEV (since NA 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
note: NIYAZOV has been asked by various local groups, most recently on 26 October 1995 at the annual elders meeting, to be "president for life," but he has declined, saying the status would require an amendment to the constitution
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 21 June 1992 (next to be held NA 2002; note—extension of President NIYAZOV's term for an additional five years overwhelmingly approved—99.9% of total vote in favor—by national referendum held 15 January 1994); deputy chairmen of the cabinet of ministers are appointed by the president
election results: Saparmurat NIYAZOV elected president without opposition; percent of vote—Saparmurad NIYAZOV 99.5%

Legislative branch: under the 1992 constitution, there are two parliamentary bodies, a unicameral People's Council or Halk Maslahaty (more than 100 seats, some of which are popularly elected and some are appointed; meets infrequently) and a unicameral Assembly or Majlis (50 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: People's Council—no elections; Assembly—last held 11 December 1994 (next to be held NA 1999)
election results: Assembly—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—Democratic Party 45, other 5; note—all 50 preapproved by President NIYAZOV

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Saparmurat NIYAZOV]
note: formal opposition parties are outlawed; unofficial, small opposition movements exist underground or in foreign countries

International organization participation: CCC, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, IBRD, ICAO, IDB, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OIC, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Halil UGUR
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael W. COTTER
embassy: 9 Pushkin Street, Ashgabat
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [9] (9312) 35-00-45, 35-00-46, 35-00-42, 51-13-06, Tie Line [8] 962-0000
FAX: [9] (9312) 51-13-05

Flag description: green field, including a vertical stripe on the hoist side, with a claret vertical stripe in between containing five white, black, and orange carpet guls (an asymmetrical design used in producing rugs associated with five different tribes); a white crescent and five white stars in the upper left corner to the right of the carpet guls
note: a new flag has been reported


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Economy—overview: Turkmenistan is largely desert country with nomadic cattle raising, intensive agriculture in irrigated oases, and huge gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton, making it the world's tenth largest producer. It also possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. Until the end of 1993, Turkmenistan had experienced less economic disruption than other former Soviet states because its economy received a boost from higher prices for oil and gas and a sharp increase in hard currency earnings. In 1994, Russia's refusal to export Turkmen gas to hard currency markets and mounting debts of its major customers in the former USSR for gas deliveries contributed to a sharp fall in industrial production and caused the budget to shift from a surplus to a slight deficit. The economy bottomed out in 1996, but high inflation continued. Furthermore, with an authoritarian ex-communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy. In 1996, the government set in place a stabilization program aimed at a unified and market-based exchange rate, allocation of government credits by auction, and strict limits on budget deficits. Privatization goals remain limited. Turkmenistan is working hard to open new gas export channels through Iran and Turkey to Europe, but these will take many years to realize.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$12.5 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: -0.3% (1996)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$3,000 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 18%
industry: 50%
services: 32% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 992% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 2.34 million (1996)
by occupation: agriculture and forestry 44%, industry and construction 19%, other 37% (1996)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $521 million
expenditures: $548 million, including capital expenditures of $83 million (1996 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 3.95 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 9.204 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 2,013 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cotton, grain; livestock

total value: $1.7 billion to states outside the FSU (1996)
commodities: natural gas, cotton, petroleum products, textiles, electricity, carpets
partners: FSU, Hong Kong, Switzerland, US, Germany, Turkey (1996)

total value: $1.5 billion from states outside the FSU (1996)
commodities: machinery and parts, grain and food, plastics and rubber, consumer durables, textiles
partners: FSU, US, Turkey, Germany, Cyprus (1996)

Debt—external: $400 million (of which $275 million to Russia) (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $10 million (1993)
note: commitments, $1,830 million ($375 million drawn), 1992-95

Currency: 1 Tukmen manat (TMM) = 100 tenesi; Turkmenistan introduced its national currency on 1 November 1993

Exchange rates: manats per US$1—4,070 (January 1997), 2,400 (January 1996)
note: government established a unified rate in mid-January 1996

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: NA

Telephone system: poorly developed
domestic: NA
international: linked by cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; a new telephone link from Ashgabat to Iran has been established; a new exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations—1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat

Radio broadcast stations: 1 state-owned radio broadcast station of NA type

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 1 state-run

Televisions: NA


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total: 2,187 km
broad gauge: 2,187 km 1.520-m gauge (1996 est.)

total: 24,000 km
paved: 19,488 km (note—these roads are said to be hard-surfaced, meaning that some are paved and some are all-weather gravel surfaced
unpaved: 4,512 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: the Amu Darya is an important inland waterway

Pipelines: crude oil 250 km; natural gas 4,400 km

Ports and harbors: Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnowodsk)

Merchant marine:
total: 1 oil tanker ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,896 GRT/3,389 DWT (1997 est.)

Airports: 64 (1994 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 22
2,438 to 3,047 m: 13
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1994 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 42
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 35 (1994 est.)


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Military branches: Ministry of Defense (Army, Air and Air Defense, Navy, Border Troops, and Internal Troops), National Guard

Military manpower—military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,080,486 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 878,274 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 43,901 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: 4.5 billion manats (1995); note—conversion of defense expenditures into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 3% (1995)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan

Illicit drugs: limited illicit cultivator of opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption; limited government eradication program; increasingly used as transshipment point for illicit drugs from Southwest Asia to Russia and Western Europe; also a transshipment point for acetic anhydride destined for Afghanistan