Turkmenistan

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Turkmenistan

(to͞orkmyĕ'nyĭstän`), republic (2005 est. pop. 4,952,000), 188,455 sq mi (488,100 sq km), central Asia. It borders on Afghanistan and Iran in the south, Uzbekistan in the east and northeast, Kazakhstan in the northwest, and the Caspian Sea in the west. AshgabatAshgabat
, formerly Ashkhabad,
city (1991 pop. 412,200), capital of Turkmenistan, near the border with Iran, on the Trans-Caspian RR. The city has textile, motion picture, and crafts industries. Ashgabat was founded in 1881 as a fortress.
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 (Ashkhabad) is its capital and largest city.

Land and People

The desert lands of Kara Kum occupy some 80% of Turkmenistan's total area; the population is concentrated in oases at the foot of the Kopet Dag Mts. in the south and along the Amu Darya, Murgab, and Tejen rivers. In addition to the capital, TurkmenbashiTurkmenbashi
or Türkmenbaşy
, formerly Krasnovodsk
, city (1991 pop. 59,500), W Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea. It is the western terminus of oil and natural gas pipelines and of the Trans-Caspian RR, which links the
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 (Krasnovodsk), ChärjewChärjew
or Chardzhou
, city (1991 pop. 166,400), capital of Lebap region, NW Turkmenistan, on the Amu Darya River. It is a cotton- and silk-manufacturing center. The gas industry is important. Its superphosphate plant produces fertilizer.
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, Nebitdag, Dashhowuz, and MaryMary
or Mari
, city (1991 pop. 94,900), capital of Mary region, SE Turkmenistan. Lying in a large oasis of the Kara Kum desert, on the Murgab River delta, Mary is the center of a rich cotton-growing area.
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 are the major cities and industrial centers. Part of the Kara Kum Canal crosses the desert, furnishing water for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

The Turkmens (or Turkomans) make up 85% of the population; the remainder are Uzbeks (5%), Russians (4%), and smaller groups of Kazakhs, Tatars, Ukrainians, and Armenians. The Turkmens are a Turkic-speaking people who are largely Sunni Muslims. Unlike other Central Asian groups, they still retain tribal and clan divisions. They are descendants of the medieval Oguz tribes (to which the Seljuk and Osmanli Turks also belonged). Besides the Turkmen language, Russian and Uzbek are also spoken. About 10% of the people belong to the Orthodox Eastern church.

Economy

More than 90% of Turkmenistan's cultivated land is irrigated. Cotton, grown along the Kara Kum canal and in the Murgab and Tejen oases, is the chief crop; wheat, barley, corn, millet, sesame, vegetables, melons, wine grapes, and alfalfa are also cultivated. The diversion of water from the Aral SeaAral Sea
, salt lake, SW Kazakhstan and NW Uzbekistan, E of the Caspian Sea in an area of interior drainage. To the north and west are the edges of the arid Ustyurt Plateau; the Kyzyl Kum desert stretches to the southeast.
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 for irrigation is drying up the sea and reducing the flow of freshwater in the region. Karakul sheep (which provide wool for the region's famous carpets), cattle, horses, and camels are raised, and silkworms are bred.

The nation's numerous mineral resources include rich deposits of oil and natural gas under the Caspian Sea and along its coast. Other resources include sulfur, salt, coal, phosphate, iodine, and lignite. Turkmenistan's industries include oil refining, fish canning (along the Caspian), meat processing, and the production of petroleum products, chemicals, and textiles. The country has numerous hydroelectric stations. The Trans-Caspian RR is the main transportation route.

Exports include natural gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, cotton fiber, and textiles. Machinery and equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs are imported. The country's chief trading partners are Ukraine, China, Russia, and Poland.

Government

Turkmenistan is governed under the constitution of 2008 as amended. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term. Members of the nation's parliament, the 125-seat National Assembly, are popularly elected to serve five-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into five provinces, or weloyats, and the capital area.

History

Originally a part of the kingdom of ancient Persia, Turkmenistan was conquered in 330 B.C. by Alexander the GreatAlexander the Great
or Alexander III,
356–323 B.C., king of Macedon, conqueror of much of Asia. Youth and Kingship

The son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, he had Aristotle as his tutor and was given a classical education.
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. After Alexander's death the area became part of ParthiaParthia
, ancient country of Asia, SE of the Caspian Sea. In its narrowest limits it consisted of a mountainous region intersected with fertile valleys, lying S of Hyrcania and corresponding roughly to the modern Iranian province of Khorasan.
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, which fell in 224 A.D. to the SassanidSassanid,
 Sasanid
, or Sassanian
, last dynasty of native rulers to reign in Persia before the Arab conquest. The period of their dominion extended from c.A.D. 224, when the Parthians were overthrown and the capital, Ctesiphon, was taken, until c.
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 Persians. In the 8th cent. Turkmenistan passed under the domination of the Arabs, who brought Islam to the region. In the 11th cent., it was ruled by the Seljuk Turks (see KhwarazmKhwarazm
or Khorezm
, ancient and medieval state of central Asia, situated in and around the basin of the lower Amu Darya River; now a region, NW Uzbekistan. Khwarazm is one of the oldest centers of civilization in central Asia.
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), whose empire collapsed in 1157. Jenghiz KhanJenghiz Khan
or Genghis Khan
, Mongolian Chinggis Khaan, 1167?–1227, Mongol conqueror, originally named Temujin. He succeeded his father, Yekusai, as chieftain of a Mongol tribe and then fought to become ruler of a Mongol confederacy.
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 conquered the region in the 13th cent., as did TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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 (Tamerlane) in the 14th cent. After the breakup (late 15th cent.) of the empire of Timur's successors, the TimuridsTimurids
, dynasty founded by Timur (or Tamerlane). After the death of Timur (1405) there was a struggle for power over his empire, which then extended from the Euphrates River to the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) and Indus rivers.
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, Turkmenistan came under Uzbek control in the north and Persian rule in the south. After a period of decline (14th–17th cent.), Turkmen culture underwent a revival in the 18th cent. In the early 19th cent., the Turkmens became subject to the khanate of KhivaKhiva, khanate of,
former state of central Asia, based on the Khiva (Khwarazm or Khorezm) oasis along the Amu Darya River. The khanate lay S of the Aral Sea and included large areas of the Kyzyl Kum and Kara Kum deserts. Founded c.
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. Russian military forces founded Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbashi) in 1869 and began to conquer the Turkmens, whose fierce resistance to Russian encroachment was broken in 1881 with the bloody conquest of the Dengil-Tepe fortress. The Russians then established the Transcaspian Region, which in 1899 became part of the governate general of Russian Turkistan.

Harsh Russian administration provoked revolts by the Turkmens. During the Russian civil war sporadic fighting flared between the Transcaspian provincial government and Bolshevik troops. The Red Army took Ashgabat in July, 1919, and Krasnovodsk in Feb., 1920. The Transcaspian Region was renamed Turkmen Region in 1921; the following year, it became part of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1924 incorporated the Turkmen districts of the former Bukhara and Khorezm republics. Turkmenistan formally became a constituent Soviet republic in 1925. Large numbers of Turkmens still live in Iran and Afghanistan.

A referendum for independence from the Soviet Union was passed in Oct., 1991, and Turkmenistan became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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 in Dec., 1991. Saparmurat NiyazovNiyazov, Saparmurat
, 1940–2006, Soviet and Turkmen political leader, president of Turkmenistan (1991–2006). An engineer and member of the Communist party, he worked in the electrical power industry and held party positions in what was then the Turkmen Soviet
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 (elected Oct., 1990) became president; he also gradually became the object of a pervasive personality cult. He was reelected unopposed in 1992 and in 1994 won a referendum extending his term until 2002. The former Communist party retained much of its hold on power, and opposition leaders were restricted and harassed. There was, however, some movement toward privatizing the economy and progress in attracting foreign investment. In 1994, Turkmenistan became the first Central Asian republic to join NATO's Partnership for Peace program; the following year, the country signed a package of 23 bilateral agreements with Russia.

In Dec., 1999, Niyazov was voted president for life by the legislature. Niyazov was uninjured in an attempted assassination in 2002. Subsequently his despotic government imposed increasing restrictions on personal as well political freedoms. Turkmenistan changed the status of its membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States to that of an associate member in 2005. The death of Ogulsapar Muradova, a journalist, while in government custody provoked new condemnation of the government in 2006; human rights groups believed that she had died during interrogation.

In Dec., 2006, Niyazov died suddenly. Deputy Prime Minister Kurbanguly BerdymukhamedovBerdymukhamedov, Kurbanguly
, 1957–, Turkmen government official, president of Turkmenistan (2007–). A dentist (grad. Turkmen State Medical Institute, 1979), he was named head of the ministry of health's dentistry center and dean of the dentistry faculty at the State
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 was named acting president; Parliament Speaker Ovezgeldy Atayev, who should have succeeded Niyazov under the constitution, was charged with abuse of power and other crimes and removed from office after the president died. Berdymukhamedov subsequently was nominated for president by the People's Council (a former supreme legislative body that was abolished in 2008), which also amended the constitution so that the acting president could run. Five other, relatively unknown candidates were nominated as well, but no exiled opposition leaders were permitted to run in the Feb., 2007, presidential election, which was won by Berdymukhamedov.

The new president subsequently consolidated his hold over the government and national politics, and in 2008 a new constitution was adopted; a personality cult also subsequently developed around Berdymukhamedov. In Sept., 2008, there were clashes in the capital between the security forces and what were reported to be armed rebels, although the government said it was a drug gang. Elections for the National Assembly in Dec., 2008, were criticized by many international observers for being overwhelming dominated by candidates from the ruling party and groups aligned with it.

An Apr. 2009, natural gas pipeline explosion cut Turkmenistan's natural gas exports to Russia's energy company Gazprom. The government blamed Gazprom for the explosion, which Gazprom denied; Gazprom subsequently sought a price reduction from Turkmenistan and did not resume importing gas until Jan., 2010, when it began accepting significantly less gas at a reduced price. The events, which resulted in a large income loss for Turkmenistan, strained relations with Russia. Meanwhile, in 2009, Turkmenistan began exporting gas to China by pipeline, and by the end of 2010 its gas exports to China exceeded those to Russia.

The president was reelected in Feb., 2012, in an election that largely mirrored that of 2007. The parliamentary elections in Dec., 2013, although nominally multiparty, were contested only by parties and groups supporting the president; the new Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs had been created on the president's order. In Jan., 2016, Gazprom ended purchases of natural gas from Turkmenistan, leaving China as Turkmenistan's only customer for natural gas. Constitutional amendments adopted in Sept., 2016, changed the presidential term from five to seven years and abolished the presidential age limit of 70 years. In Feb., 2017, Berdymukhamedov was elected to a third term, again against insignificant opponents.

Bibliography

See G. Park, Bolshevism in Turkestan (1957); S. Akinev, Islamic Peoples of the Soviet Union (1986).

Turkmenistan

Official name: Turkmenistan

Capital city: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)

Internet country code: .tm

Flag description: Green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five tribal guls (designs used in producing carpets) stacked above two crossed olive branches similar to the olive branches on the United Nations flag; a white crescent moon representing Islam with five white stars representing the regions or velayats of Turkmenistan appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe

National anthem: “The great creation of Turkmenbashy” (first line in English translation)

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

Total area: 303,292 sq. mi. (488,100 sq. km.)

Climate: Subtropical desert

Nationality: noun: Turkmen(s); adjective: Turkmenistani

Population: 5,097,028 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6%

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

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

Legal Holidays:

Day of NeutralityDec 12
International Women's DayMar 8
Memorial DayJan 12
National Flag DayFeb 19
New Year's DayJan 1
Novruz-BairamMar 21
Remembrance DayOct 6
Revival and Unity DayMay 18
Victory DayMay 9

Turkmenistan

a republic in central Asia: the area has been occupied by a succession of empires; a Turkmen state was established in the 15th century but suffered almost continual civil strife and was gradually conquered by Russia; in 1918 it became a Soviet republic and gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991: deserts including the Kara Kum cover most of the region; agricultural communities are concentrated around oases; there are rich mineral deposits. Official language: Turkmen. Religion: believers are mainly Muslim. Currency: manat. Capital: Ashkhabad. Pop.: 4 940 000 (2004 est.). Area: 488 100 sq. km (186 400 sq. miles)