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Turkmenistan (/tɜːrkˈmɛnɪstæn/ or /ˌtɜːrkmɛnɪˈstɑːn/ ; Turkmen: Türkmenistan, pronounced [tʏɾkmønʏˈθːɑːn][14]) is a landlocked country in Central Asia bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north, east and northeast, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest and the Caspian Sea to the west.[15] Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. It is one of the six independent Turkic states. The population is about seven million (according to the 17 December 2022 Census) and is thus the lowest of the Central Asian republics, and Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated nations in Asia.[6][16][7]

Quick facts: TurkmenistanTürkmenistan (Turkmen), Capi...
Türkmenistan (Turkmen)
Türkmenistan Bitaraplygyň watanydyr
"Turkmenistan is the motherland of Neutrality"[1][2]
Garaşsyz Bitarap Türkmenistanyň Döwlet Gimni
"National Anthem of Independent Neutral Turkmenistan"
Location of Turkmenistan (red)
Location of Turkmenistan (red)
and largest city
37°58′N 58°20′E
Official languagesTurkmen[3]
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic under a totalitarian hereditary dictatorship[8][9]
Serdar Berdimuhamedow
Raşit Meredow
 Chairman of the People's Council
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
Dünýägözel Gulmanowa
Independence from the Soviet Union
13 May 1925
 Declared state sovereignty
22 August 1990
 From the Soviet Union
27 October 1991
26 December 1991
18 May 1992
491,210 km2 (189,660 sq mi)[10] (52nd)
24,069 km2 (9,293 sq mi)
 Water (%)
7,057,841 [11]
14.4/km2 (37.3/sq mi) (221st)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
$117.7 billion [12] (93nd)
 Per capita
$18,875[12] (80th)
GDP (nominal)2023 estimate
$82.65 billion[12]
 Per capita
Gini (1998)40.8
HDI (2021)Increase 0.745[13]
high · 91st
CurrencyManat (TMT)
Time zoneUTC+05 (TMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+993
ISO 3166 codeTM

Turkmenistan has long served as a thoroughfare for several empires and cultures.[17] Merv is one of the oldest oasis-cities in Central Asia,[18] and was once among the biggest cities in the world.[19] It was also one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, Turkmenistan figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1925, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR); it became independent after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.[6]

The country is widely criticized for its poor human rights,[20][21] its treatment of minorities, and its lack of press and religious freedoms. Since the independence declared from the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has been ruled by repressive totalitarian regimes: that of President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Türkmenbaşy/Türkmenbaşı or "Head of the Turkmens") until his death in 2006; Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who became president in 2007 after winning a non-democratic election (he had been vice-president and then acting president previously); and his son Serdar, who won a subsequent 2022 presidential election described by international observers as neither free nor fair, and now shares power with his father.[22][23][9]

Turkmenistan possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas.[24] Most of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. From 1993 to 2019, citizens received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge.[25] Turkmenistan is an observer state in the Organisation of Turkic States, the Türksoy community and a member of the United Nations.[26]