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Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1925. It achieved its independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President NIYAZOV retains absolute control over the country and opposition is not tolerated. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects can be worked out.
Geography Turkmenistan
Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
Geographic coordinates:
40 00 N, 60 00 E
Map references:
total: 488,100 sq km
water: negl.
land: 488,100 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
0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
subtropical desert
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: Vpadina Akchanaya -81 m; note - Sarygamysh Koli is a lake in northern Turkmenistan with a water level that fluctuates above and below the elevation of Vpadina Akchanaya (the lake has dropped as low as -110 m)
highest point: Gora Ayribaba 3,139 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt
Land use:
arable land: 3.6%
permanent crops: 0.1%
other: 96.3% (2003 est.)
Irrigated land:
17,500 sq km (2003 est.)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salination, 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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
landlocked; the western and central low-lying, desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau
People Turkmenistan
4,863,169 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 36.2% (male 904,627; female 857,601)
15-64 years: 59.7% (male 1,423,836; female 1,477,224)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 76,670; female 123,211) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 21.3 years
male: 20.4 years
female: 22.2 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.81% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
27.82 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
8.82 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 73.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 69.16 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 76.9 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 61.29 years
male: 57.87 years
female: 64.88 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.45 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
less than 100 (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (2004 est.)
noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen
Ethnic groups:
Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)
Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
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.)
Government Turkmenistan
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
local short form: Turkmenistan
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat): Ahal Welayaty (Ashgabat), Balkan Welayaty (Balkanabat), Dashoguz Welayaty, Lebap Welayaty (Turkmenabat), Mary Welayaty
note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
adopted 18 May 1992
Legal system:
based on civil law system
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 (since 27 October 1990, when the first direct presidential election occurred); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 21 June 1992 (next to be held NA); note - President NIYAZOV was unanimously approved as president for life by the Assembly on 28 December 1999); deputy chairmen of the cabinet of ministers are appointed by the president
election results: Saparmurat NIYAZOV elected president without opposition; percent of vote - Saparmurat NIYAZOV 99.5%
note: NIYAZOV's term in office was extended indefinitely on 28 December 1999 by the Assembly (Majlis) during a session of the People's Council (Halk Maslahaty)
Legislative branch:
under the 1992 constitution, there are two parliamentary bodies, a unicameral People's Council or Halk Maslahaty (supreme legislative body of up to 2,500 delegates, some of which are elected by popular vote and some of which are appointed; meets at least yearly) and a unicameral Assembly or Majlis (50 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
election results: Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; note - all 50 elected officials preapproved by President NIYAZOV; most are from the DPT
note: in late 2003, a new law was adopted, reducing the powers of the Majlis and making the Halk Maslahaty the supreme legislative organ; the Halk Maslahaty can now legally dissolve the Majlis, and the president is now able to participate in the Majlis as its supreme leader; the Majlis can no longer adopt or amend the constitution, or announce referendums or its elections; since the president is both the "Chairman for Life" of the Halk Maslahaty and the supreme leader of the Majlis, the 2003 law has the effect of making the president the sole authority of both the executive and legislative branches of government
elections: People's Council - NA; Assembly - last held 12 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
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; the two most prominent opposition groups-in-exile have been Gundogar and Erkin; Gundogar was led by former Foreign Minister Boris SHIKHUMRADOV until his arrest and imprisonment in the wake of the 25 November 2002 assassination attempt on President NIYAZOV; Erkin is led by former Foreign Minister Abdy KULIEV and is based out of Moscow; the Union of Democratic Forces, a coalition of opposition-in-exile groups, is based in Europe
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mered Bairamovich ORAZOV
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Tracey A. JACOBSON
embassy: 9 Pushkin Street, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 774000
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [9] (9312) 35-00-45
FAX: [9] (9312) 39-26-14
Flag description:
green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five carpet guls (designs used in producing rugs) stacked above two crossed olive branches similar to the olive branches on the UN flag; a white crescent moon and five white stars appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe
Economy Turkmenistan
Economy - overview:
Turkmenistan is largely desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and large gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton, making it at one time the world's tenth-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to a nearly 46% decline in cotton exports. 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. Privatization goals remain limited. In 1998-2003, Turkmenistan suffered from the continued lack of adequate export routes for natural gas and from obligations on extensive short-term external debt. At the same time, however, total exports rose by 38% in 2003, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, the burden of foreign debt, and the unwillingness of the government to adopt market-oriented reforms. However, Turkmenistan's cooperation with the international community in transporting humanitarian aid to Afghanistan may foreshadow a change in the atmosphere for foreign investment, aid, and technological support. Turkmenistan's economic statistics are state secrets, and GDP and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the 20% rate of GDP growth is a guess.
purchasing power parity - $27.07 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
20% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $5,700 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 27%
industry: 50%
services: 23% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
34.4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40.8 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
2.34 million (1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 48%, industry 15%, services 37% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate:
NA% (2003 est.)
revenues: $588.6 million
expenditures: $658.2 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
14% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
10.18 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
8.509 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
980 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
20 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
162,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
63,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
273 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
48.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
9.6 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
38.6 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.43 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
cotton, grain; livestock
$3.355 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
gas 57%, oil 26%, cotton fiber 3%, textiles 2% (2001)
Exports - partners:
Ukraine 49.7%, Italy 18%, Iran 13.1%, Turkey 6.2% (2002)
$2.472 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment 60%, foodstuffs 15% (1999)
Imports - partners:
Russia 19.8%, Turkey 12.9%, Ukraine 11.7%, UAE 10%, US 7.5%, China 6%, Germany 5.7%, Iran 4.5% (2002)
Debt - external:
$2.4 billion to $5 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$16 million from the US (2001)
Turkmen manat (TMM)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Turkmen manats per US dollar - 5,200 (2003), 5,200 (2002), 5,200 (2001), 5,200 (2000), 5,200 (1999);note - the official exchange rate has not varied for the last six years; the unofficial rate has fluctuated slightly, hovering around 21,000 manats to the dollar
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Turkmenistan
Telephones - main lines in use:
374,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
8,200 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: poorly developed
domestic: NA
international: country code - 993; 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:
AM 16, FM 8, shortwave 2 (1998)
1.225 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (much programming relayed from Russia and Turkey) (1997)
820,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,020 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Internet users:
8,000 (2002)
Transportation Turkmenistan
total: 2,440 km
broad gauge: 2,440 km 1.520-m gauge (2002)
total: 24,000 km
paved: 19,488 km
unpaved: 4,512 km (1999 est.)
the Amu Darya is an important inland waterway for Turkmenistan, as is the man-made Kara Kum canal
gas 6,634 km; oil 853 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Merchant marine:
total: 2 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,873 GRT/8,345 DWT
by type: combination ore/oil 1, petroleum tanker 1
registered in other countries: 2 (2003 est.)
69 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 24
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 45
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 36 (2003 est.)
914 to 1,523 m: 7
1 (2003 est.)
Military Turkmenistan
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 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,272,436 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 1,031,806 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 55,866 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$90 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.4% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Turkmenistan
Disputes - international:
prolonged regional drought creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; talks resume with Kazakhstan on dividing the seabed in 2004 as both sides anticipate an ICJ decision on contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian; demarcation of land boundary with Kazakhstan to commence in 2004
Illicit drugs:
transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets; limited illicit cultivation of opium poppy for domestic consumption; small-scale government-run eradication of illicit crops; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan