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Turkmens (Turkmen: Türkmenler, Түркменлер, توركمنلر, [tʏɾkmønˈløɾ]; historically "the Turkmen") are a Turkic ethnic group native to Central Asia, living mainly in Turkmenistan, northern and northeastern regions of Iran and north-western Afghanistan. Sizeable groups of Turkmens are found also in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the North Caucasus (Stavropol Krai). They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Eastern Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages.
|c. 7–8 million[a]|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Predominantly Sunni Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Turkic peoples|
Especially Azerbaijanis, Turks, and Khorasani Turks
a. ^ The total figure is merely an estimation; a sum of all the referenced populations.
In the early Middle ages, Turkmens called themselves Oghuz and in the Middle Ages they took the ethnonym Turkmen. These early Oghuz Turkmens moved westward from the Altai Mountains through the Siberian steppes, and settled in the region now known as Turkmenistan. Further westward migration of the Turkmen tribes from the territory of modern Turkmenistan and the rest of Central Asia started from the 11th century and continued until the 18th century. These Turkmen tribes played a significant role in the ethnic formation of such peoples as Anatolian Turks, Turkmens of Iraq and Syria, as well as the Turkic population of Iran and Azerbaijan. To preserve their independence, those tribes that remained in Turkmenistan were united in military alliances, although remnants of tribal relations remained until the 20th century. Their traditional occupations were farming, cattle breeding, and various crafts. Ancient samples of applied art (primarily carpets and jewelry) indicate a high level of folk art culture.