Capital city Ashgabat
Surface 488,100 km²
Population 6,031,000
Road network length 22,000 km
Length of highway network 203 km
First highway 2021
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code TM

Turkmenistan (Turkmen: Türkmenistan), in full the Republic of Turkmenistan (Türkmenistan Respublikasy) is a country in Central Asia. The country is the southernmost of Central Asia and is 12 times the size of the Netherlands. The country has 6 million inhabitants and the capital is Ashgabat (Aşgabat).


According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Turkmenistan is the southernmost of the former Soviet republics. The country measures 1,200 kilometers from east to west and about 570 kilometers from north to south. The capital Ashgabat is centrally located in the south of the country, near the border with Iran. The country is located on the Caspian Sea, and borders Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, and Afghanistan and Iran to the south.. Other larger cities are Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea, Mary in the east and Turkmenabat in the northeast. The largest part of the country consists of desert, the Karakum Desert. Turkmenistan’s highest point is located in the Kopet Dag Mountains and reaches a maximum of 2,912 meters. The mountain range is located on the border with Iran. The main river is the Amu Darya.

The country largely has a dry desert climate, the Karakum Desert is one of the driest deserts in the world, with less than 20 mm of precipitation per year. The south has a little more precipitation. The average maximum temperature in Ashgabat ranges from 9°C in January to 38°C in July. About 200 mm of precipitation falls per year.


Turkmenistan’s economy is dominated by the oil and gas sector. The country is a net exporter of natural gas and petroleum, especially to Iran, China and Russia. Turkmenistan’s economy is largely governed by the government, although it does not have a communist system. A large part of the economy is in the hands of state-owned companies. In addition to oil and gas, Turkmenistan produces a lot of cotton, especially around the Amu Darya River in the north of the country. The construction sector is almost entirely dependent on the government, private investment in the country is very low, partly due to a rapidly shrinking population, there is no great demand for new homes. The government sometimes demolishes entire residential areas for aesthetic reasons. The government carries out large mega-projects that are hardly used, such as the Awaza resort on the Caspian Sea.

The country has major structural problems, with inflation, food shortages, mass emigration and an authoritarian regime. Unemployment is probably much higher than official statistics. Because the government controls such a large part of the economy, a large part of the population is actually in government service. Turkmenistan is among the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world. The country was unable to export the gas until early 2000 due to a lack of infrastructure to do so. President Niyazov has spent most of the government budget renovating the major cities, especially Ashgabat, where the richness of the buildings radiates. Most of the population is poor and agricultural, especially outside Ashgabat and Türkmenbashy. There is relatively little industry outside the oil and gas sector. In 2010 and from 2019, there were major crises in the country with food shortages. Turkmenistan is one of the most closed countries in the world, often compared to North Korea.


In 1950, Turkmenistan had only 1 million inhabitants, mostly living in the south and east. Large parts of the country were unpopulated. The population growth was relatively large, but the base so low that Turkmenistan is still a very sparsely populated country today. See Turkmenistan population density. The only major city is the capital Ashgabat, which has more than 900,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, only Türkmenabat, Daşoguz and Mary have more than 100,000 inhabitants. There are 8 towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The official population of around 6 million may in reality be significantly lower, around 2.7 million. The 1995 census was the last to have the results published. There is talk of massive emigration from Turkmenistan.

The population consists largely of Turkmen, with minorities such as Uzbeks and Russians. Since independence, the number of Russians in Turkmenistan has shrunk sharply. Turkmenistan speaks Turkmen, a Turkish language close to Azeri and Turkish. Turkmen is written in the Latin alphabet. Before 1929, Turkmen was written in the Arabic alphabet, after which a Latin alphabet was introduced, which was replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1938. Since 1991, Turkmen is again written in the Latin alphabet.


The population has its origins in the tribes of the Oghuz, who started to populate the area from the 10th century. Turkmenistan is located on the historic Silk Road and was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881. From 1916 to the early 1920s there were uprisings against Russian rule. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a republic within the Soviet Union, the Turkmen SSR, also known as Turkmenia (Russian: Туркмения). During the 1930s, agriculture was developed and the nomadic character of the population ceased to exist. In 1948 Ashgabat was hit by an earthquake that killed 110,000, two-thirds of the population at the time. Then followed half a century in which the area had little to do with the rest of the world, it was an obscure part of the Soviet Union.

The then leader of the Soviet Republic wanted to keep the Soviet Union and the country was not prepared for independence. Saparmurat Niyazov was the leader of Turkmenistan from 1985 until his death in 2006. Under Niyazov, Turkmenistan was a repressive dictatorship that developed cult status around him. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has maintained a neutral position in almost all world events. Niyazov was succeeded in 2007 by Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. The situation in Turkmenistan has changed little since then, Berdimuhamedow is seen as eccentric and there is a cult around him just like his predecessor Niyazov.

Turkmenistan Location Map