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Turkmenistan Historical and Political Profile

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Turkmenistan Index

  • Turkmenistan-The Spoken Language
  • Turkmenistan-Health Conditions
  • Turkmenistan-Industry
  • Turkmenistan-Natural Resources
  • Turkmenistan-Privatization
  • Turkmenistan-Airlines
  • Turkmenistan-Internal Security Forces
  • Turkmenistan-Sovereignty and Independence
  • Turkmenistan-Pipelines
  • Turkmenistan-Preface
  • Turkmenistan-Physical Features
  • Turkmenistan-Migration Trends
  • Turkmenistan-Political Parties
  • Turkmenistan-Environmental Issues
  • Turkmenistan-Society
  • Turkmenistan-Formation of the Turkmen Nation
  • Turkmenistan-History and Structure
  • Turkmenistan-Asian Neighbors
  • Turkmenistan-Society
  • Turkmenistan-Role of Russia and the CIS
  • Turkmenistan -Chapter 4 - Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenistan-Introduction
  • Turkmenistan-Criminal Justice
  • Turkmenistan-Government and Politics
  • Turkmenistan-Labor
  • Turkmenistan-Government Welfare Programs
  • Turkmenistan-Economic Structure
  • Turkmenistan-Historical Background
  • Turkmenistan-Higher Education
  • Turkmenistan-Caspian Sea Issues
  • Turkmenistan-Incorporation into Russia
  • Turkmenistan-Population
  • Turkmenistan-Geography Country
  • Turkmenistan-Religion
  • Turkmenistan-National Security
  • Turkmenistan-National Security
  • Turkmenistan-Foreign Relations Issues
  • Turkmenistan-Agriculture
  • Turkmenistan-Fiscal and Monetary Conditions
  • Turkmenistan-Structure of Health Care
  • Turkmenistan-Hydrological Conditions
  • Turkmenistan-Health
  • Turkmenistan-Soviet Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenistan-Acknowledgments
  • Turkmenistan-Social Structure
  • Turkmenistan-Western Europe
  • Turkmenistan-TURKMENISTAN
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenistan-Government Structure
  • Turkmenistan-The Economy
  • Turkmenistan-Roads
  • Turkmenistan-Climate
  • Turkmenistan-Strategic Considerations
  • Turkmenistan-Foreword
  • Turkmenistan-Physical Environment
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenistan-Welfare
  • Turkmenistan-Religion after Independence
  • Turkmenistan-Military Doctrine
  • Turkmenistan-CIS Relations
  • Turkmenistan-Education System
  • Turkmenistan-Transportation and Telecommunications
  • Turkmenistan-Force Structure
  • Turkmenistan-Transportation and Telecommunications
  • Turkmenistan-Education
  • Turkmenistan-Health Care Conditions
  • Turkmenistan-Curriculum
  • Turkmenistan-The Written Language
  • Turkmenistan-Foreign Trade
  • Turkmenistan-Government and Politics
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenistan-Economy
  • Turkmenistan-Foreign Policy
  • Turkmenistan-Merchant Marine
  • BackgroundEastern Turkmenistan for centuries formed part of the Persian province of Khurasan; in medieval times Merv (today known as Mary) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1924. It achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves could prove a boon to this underdeveloped country if extraction and delivery projects were to be expanded. The Turkmenistan Government is actively developing alternative petroleum transportation routes to break Russia's pipeline monopoly. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential electoral process in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a vice premier under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president.
    LocationCentral Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
    Area(sq km)total: 488,100 sq km
    land: 469,930 sq km
    water: 18,170 sq km
    Geographic coordinates40 00 N, 60 00 E
    Land boundaries(km)total: 3,736 km
    border countries: Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km

    Coastline(km)0 km; note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)

    Climatesubtropical desert

    Elevation extremes(m)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 resourcespetroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt
    Land use(%)arable land: 4.51%
    permanent crops: 0.14%
    other: 95.35% (2005)

    Irrigated land(sq km)18,000 sq km (2003)
    Total renewable water resources(cu km)60.9 cu km (1997)
    Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 24.65 cu km/yr (2%/1%/98%)
    per capita: 5,104 cu m/yr (2000)
    Natural hazardsNA
    Environment - current issuescontamination 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 agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - notelandlocked; 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
    Population4,884,887 (July 2009 est.)
    Age structure(%)0-14 years: 28.9% (male 713,698/female 697,222)
    15-64 years: 66.9% (male 1,618,678/female 1,646,992)
    65 years and over: 4.3% (male 90,352/female 117,945) (2009 est.)
    Median age(years)total: 24.4 years
    male: 24.1 years
    female: 24.8 years (2009 est.)
    Population growth rate(%)1.141% (2009 est.)
    Birth rate(births/1,000 population)19.69 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)6.31 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

    Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-1.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Urbanization(%)urban population: 49% of total population (2008)
    rate of urbanization: 2.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
    Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
    Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 45.36 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 53.85 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 36.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 67.87 years
    male: 64.94 years
    female: 70.95 years (2009 est.)

    Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.22 children born/woman (2009 est.)
    Nationalitynoun: Turkmen(s)
    adjective: Turkmen
    Ethnic groups(%)Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)

    Religions(%)Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
    Languages(%)Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

    Country nameconventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Turkmenistan
    local long form: none
    local short form: Turkmenistan
    former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
    Government typerepublic; authoritarian presidential rule, with power concentrated within the executive branch
    Capitalname: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
    geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
    time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat) and 1 independent city*: Ahal Welayaty (Anew), 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)
    Constitutionadopted 18 May 1992

    Legal systembased on Soviet civil law system and Islamic law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

    Suffrage18 years of age; universal
    Executive branchchief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007)
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held on 11 February 2007 (next to be held in February 2012)
    election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW elected president; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 89.2%, Amanyaz ATAJYKOW 3.2%, other candidates 7.6%

    Legislative branchunicameral parliament known as the National Assembly (Mejlis) (125 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    elections: last held 14 December 2008 (next to be held December 2013)
    election results: 100% of elected officials are members of either the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or its pseudo-civil society parent organization, the Revival Movement, and are preapproved by the president
    note: in autumn 2008, the constitution of Turkmenistan was revised to abolish a second, 2,507-member legislative body known as the People's Council and to expand the number of deputies in the National Assembly from 65 to 125; the powers formerly held by the People's Council were divided up between the president and the National Assembly

    Judicial branchSupreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)

    Political pressure groups and leadersnone
    International organization participationADB, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
    Flag descriptiongreen field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five tribal guls (designs used in producing carpets) stacked above two crossed olive branches; a white crescent moon representing Islam with five white stars representing the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe

    Economy - overviewTurkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton; formerly it was the world's 10th-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to an almost 50% 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. From 1998-2005, 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 an average of roughly 15% per year from 2003-08, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices. A new pipeline to China, set to come online in late 2009 or early 2010, will give Turkmenistan an additional export route for its gas. Overall prospects in the near future are discouraging because of widespread internal poverty, a poor educational system, government misuse of oil and gas revenues, and Ashgabat's reluctance to adopt market-oriented reforms. In the past, Turkmenistan's economic statistics were state secrets. The new government has established a State Agency for Statistics, but GDP numbers and other figures are subject to wide margins of error. In particular, the rate of GDP growth is uncertain. Since his election, President BERDIMUHAMEDOW has sought to improve the health and education systems, unified the country's dual currency exchange rate, ordered the redenomination of the manat, reduced state subsidies for gasoline, increased Internet access both in schools and Internet cafes, ordered an independent audit of Turkmenistan's gas resources, and created a special tourism zone on the Caspian Sea. Although foreign investment is encouraged, numerous bureaucratic obstacles from the NYYZOW-era remain.
    GDP (purchasing power parity)$31.28 billion (2008 est.)
    $28.49 billion (2007 est.)
    $25.53 billion (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP (official exchange rate)$29.16 billion (2008 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate(%)9.8% (2008 est.)
    11.6% (2007 est.)
    11.4% (2006 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,500 (2008 est.)
    $6,000 (2007 est.)
    $5,400 (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 9.1%
    industry: 39%
    services: 51.9% (2008 est.)
    Labor force2.3 million (2008 est.)

    Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 48.2%
    industry: 14%
    services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
    Unemployment rate(%)60% (2004 est.)
    Population below poverty line(%)30% (2004 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2.6%
    highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
    Distribution of family income - Gini index40.8 (1998)
    Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)1.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
    Budgetrevenues: $1.667 billion
    expenditures: $1.407 billion (2008 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)13% (2008 est.)
    11.3% (2007 est.)

    Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
    Economic aid - recipient$28.25 million from the US (2005)

    Agriculture - productscotton, grain; livestock
    Industriesnatural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing

    Industrial production growth rate(%)-1.5% (2008 est.)

    Current account balance$4.669 billion (2008 est.)
    $3.285 billion (2007 est.)
    Exports$11.92 billion (2008 est.)
    $7.919 billion (2007 est.)

    Exports - commodities(%)gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
    Exports - partners(%)Ukraine 51.7%, Poland 10%, Hungary 8.1% (2008)
    Imports$5.654 billion (2008 est.)
    $3.615 billion (2007 est.)

    Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
    Imports - partners(%)China 16.9%, Russia 15.9%, Turkey 14%, UAE 10.3%, Ukraine 7.9%, Germany 5.6%, Iran 5.1% (2008)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$13.88 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $13.19 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Debt - external$1.4 billion (2004 est.)
    note: some estimates put this figure as high as $5 billion

    Exchange ratesTurkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar - 14,250 (as of 1 May 2008 est.)

    Currency (code)Turkmen manat (TMM)

    Telephones - main lines in use495,000 (2008)
    Telephones - mobile cellular810,000 (2008)
    Telephone systemgeneral assessment: telecommunications network remains underdeveloped and progress toward improvement is slow; strict government control and censorship inhibits liberalization and modernization
    domestic: Turkmentelekom, in cooperation with foreign partners, has installed high speed fiber-optic lines and has upgraded most of the country's telephone exchanges and switching centers with new digital technology; mobile telephone usage is expanding with Russia's Mobile Telesystems (MTS) the primary service provider
    international: country code - 993; linked by fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; an exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat (2008)
    Internet country code.tm
    Internet users75,000 (2008)
    Airports28 (2009)
    Pipelines(km)gas 6,417 km; oil 1,457 km (2008)
    Roadways(km)total: 58,592 km
    paved: 47,577 km
    unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)

    Ports and terminalsTurkmenbasy
    Military branchesArmy, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2009)
    Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2007)
    Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,316,698
    females age 16-49: 1,331,005 (2008 est.)
    Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,024,884
    females age 16-49: 1,147,714 (2009 est.)
    Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 57,021
    female: 56,064 (2009 est.)
    Military expenditures(% of GDP)3.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
    Disputes - internationalcotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2005, but Caspian seabed delimitation remains stalled with Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kazakhstan due to Turkmenistan's indecision over how to allocate the sea's waters and seabed

    Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 11,173 (Tajikistan); less than 1,000 (Afghanistan) (2007)
    Electricity - production(kWh)13.99 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 99.9%
    hydro: 0.1%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (2001)
    Electricity - consumption(kWh)10.45 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - exports(kWh)1.46 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Oil - production(bbl/day)189,400 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - consumption(bbl/day)112,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - exports(bbl/day)84,770 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - imports(bbl/day)2,542 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - proved reserves(bbl)600 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
    Natural gas - production(cu m)70.5 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption(cu m)21 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - exports(cu m)48.5 billion cu m (2008)
    Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)2.662 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSfewer than 200 (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 100 (2004 est.)
    Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 98.8%
    male: 99.3%
    female: 98.3% (1999 est.)

    Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.9% of GDP (1991)

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