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see 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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, Turkmenistan.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Turkmen: Ashgabat, from Arabic ashiq, “love,” and Persian abad, “city”; previously Askhabad, and from 1919 to 1927, Poltoratsk), a city, the capital (since October 1924) of the Turkmen SSR. Located on the Kopet-dag foothill plain, at elevations of 214–240 m, on the Middle Asian Railroad (Krasnovodsk-Tashkent), at the center of transportation routes of the republic. In 1962 the Lenin Kara-Kum Canal was brought up to the city. Ashkhabad is the southernmost capital of the Union republics of the USSR. It is situated in the Akhal Oasis. The average January temperature is 0.8°C, the average July temperature, 30.5°C. On Jan. 15, 1970, the population of Ashkhabad was 253,000; it was 19,400 in 1897, 51,600 in 1926, 126,600 in 1939, and 169,900 in 1959.

Historical information. Ancient settlements were located on the site of Ashkhabad. The city was founded in 1881 as a military fortification on the site of the settlement of Askhabad (it gave its name to the city), which had an ancient fortress. It was the administrative center of the Transcaspian region. The city’s development was determined by its convenient location on important caravan routes. The Askhabad-Caspian Railroad was built in 1885 and the Askhabad-Tashkent line in 1899; they contributed to Ashkhabad’s growth and the development of trade. A Social Democratic organization formed in the city in the summer of 1905. Railroad and other workers participated actively in the Revolution of 1905–07. The congress of railroad workers of Middle Asia and the first Transcaspian conference of the RSDLP were held in Ashkhabad in December 1905. An uprising of the Ashkhabad garrison broke out in early June 1906; it was joined by the railroad workers. The insurgence lasted a week; it was suppressed and 800 people were brought to trial.

In March 1917, after the February Revolution, a Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies was formed in Ashkhabad. The Mensheviks, SR’s, and Pan-Turkists were in the majority. The Bolsheviks waged a long political struggle among the population, and in December 1917 power in the city passed to the Bolshevik Soviet. On June 17, 1918, SR’s, White Guards, and bourgeois nationalists staged a counterrevolutionary revolt in the city, which was suppressed. On July 11–12,1918, the SR’s and WhiteGuards seized power in Ashkhabad with the aid of English agents. On July 22, 1918, nine Ashkhabad commissars and commanders of the Red Army were shot at the Annau station of the Transcaspian Railroad. On Sept. 20, 1918, the English interventionists, aided by the Ashkhabad SR-White Guard government, shot the Baku commissars. On July 9, 1919, Soviet troops liberated Ashkhabad from the interventionists and White Guards. On July 17, 1919, the city was named Poltoratsk in honor of P. G. Poltoratskii, one of the organizers of the struggle for Soviet power in Turkestan. Until 1924, Ashkhabad was the oblast center of the Turkestan ASSR. With the formation of the Turkmen SSR on Oct. 27, 1924, the city became the capital of the republic. In 1927 it was given the national name Ashkhabad.

Economy. During the Soviet period, the city became the republic’s major industrial center. The gross output of all the city’s industries rose by a factor of 85.7 between 1913 and 1969. Among the developed industries are machine-building and metalworking (production of bull-dozers, kneading machines, cast iron fittings and fasteners, gas stoves, oil pumps, agricultural machines; reconditioning of automotive vehicles, diesel locomotives, and so on); production of elec-trotechnical equipment, construction materials, and glass; light industry (cotton textiles, silk thread, carpets) and the food industry (meat, wine-making, milling, confections, and so on). At the end of 1969 the city entered the Bairam Ali-Ashkhabad-Bezmein gas pipeline system.

Architecture. Up to the October Revolution, Ashkhabad was a poorly planned city, with a rectangular network of streets combined with radial streets; crude houses with flat roofs predominated. During the Soviet period, the city grew and modern houses were erected. However, it was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1948, after which it was built up anew. By 1948, the city had assimilated 3,000 hectares; in 1969 the figure was 7,500 ha. Under the general plans of 1949 and 1959, the layout which developed historically was essentially preserved and developed. Sections of town were enlarged and streets broadened; microsections and green zones for relaxation were created. The housing supply has risen from 1,155,000 square meters in 1959 to 2,348,000 sq m in 1969. Three- and four-story apartment buildings (with loggias and balconies) and highly earthquake-proof public buildings have been built. The structures of the 1950–60’s include the buildings of the Council of Ministers of the Turkmen SSR (architect V. M. Novosadov) and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan (architects A. N. Afanas’ev and E. A. Raevskaia), the complex of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR (architects L. K. Ratinov and others), the Mollanepes Academic Drama Theater (architect A. V. Tarasenko), the agricultural institute (architects M. N. Vino-gradskaiá, A.’ P. Zar’ev, and V. N. Liakhovich), the university and the Museum of Fine Arts of the Turkmen SSR (both by the architect G. M. Aleksandravich), and the Peace cinema-concert hall (architects F. M. Evseev and M. G. Evseeva, engineer M. Berlin). The State Library (architects A. R. Akhmedov and others), the Karamkum project administration building (architects A. R. Akhmedov, F. R. Aliev) and the Ashkhabad Hotel (architect A. R. Akhmedov) are on the central Karl Marx Square; the Intourist hotel (architects A. R. Akhmedov and F. R. Aliev) is on Theater Square. A monument was raised to the fighting men who perished in the Great Patriotic War (1970, architects A. Kurbanliev and F. Bagirov, sculptor D. Dzhumadurdy). In the Lenin Public Garden there is a monument to V. I. Lenin (bronze and majolica, 1927, sculptors A. A. Karelin and E. R. Tripol’-skaia).

Cultural construction. In the Soviet period, Ashkhabad has become a major cultural and scientific center of the republic. Gorky Turkmen University is located here, as are the polytechnic, agricultural, and medical institutes. The Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR (from 1940 to 1951, the Turkmen Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR) has been conducting scientific research work here since 1951. The only desert institute in the USSR, and a number of other scientific research institutions, including the Institute for Earthquake-proof Construction of the State Building Department of the Turkmen SSR, hold special places in the academy’s system. During the 1969–70 school year, there were 45,100 students in schools of general instruction, 7,500 students in 12 specialized secondary schools, and 12,900 students in higher educational institutions. In 1968 there were 15,600 children in 102 preschool institutions.

There are four working theaters in Ashkhabad (the Makhtumkuli Opera and Ballet Theater, the Mollanepes Academic Drama Theater, the Pushkin Russian Dramatic Theater, and the Theater for Young Audiences), 38 people’s libraries (total supply of books and journals over 532,000 copies), the Karl Marx State Library of the Turkmen SSR, seven club institutions, three museums (history, regional lore, and fine arts), 29 cinema units, the Ashkhabad Pioneer Palace, and other extracurricular institutions.

The republic publications Turkmenistan, Ylym (Science), and so on, are located in Ashkhabad, as are Republic Radio and Television, a television center, and the Turkmen Telegraph Agency (Turkmen TAG). Seven republic newspapers are published, as well as journals in Turkmen and Russian. The city newspaper Vechernii Ashkhabad has been published since 1968.

Public health. On Jan. 1, 1969, there were 1,505 doctors of all specialties, including dentists (that is, one doctor per 168 people), and 2,774 secondary medical personnel. There were 21 hospitals with 3,000 beds (that is, 11.9 per 1,000 people). There were two dispensaries and two epidemiologic centers.

The health resort and dacha settlement of Firiuz, the main relaxation area for the city-dwellers, is located on the northeastern slopes of Kopetdag, 39 km from Ashkhabad.


Babaev, A., and Z. G. Freikin. Ashkhabad. Ashkhabad, 1957.
Zhmuida, V. B. Ashkhabad. Moscow, 1957.
Freikin, Z. G. Turkmenskaia SSR. Moscow, 1957.
Istoriia Turkmenskoi SSR, vol. 2. Ashkhabad, 1957.
Turkmenistan. (Seriia Sovetskii Soiuz.) Moscow, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Ashgabat
the capital of Turkmenistan. Pop.: 598 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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