Turkmenistan

 

Eastern 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 seeking to develop 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.

 

Geography:
Location: Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 60 00 E
People:
Population: 5,054,828 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 27.5% (male 696,749/female 679,936)

15-64 years: 68.4% (male 1,692,885/female 1,724,019)

65 years and over: 4.1% (male 88,590/female 115,324) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Turkmenistan

local long form: none

local short form: Turkmenistan

former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type: republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch
Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 520,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 3.198 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 26 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 21

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 9

1,524 to 2,437 m: 9

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defence Forces (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18-30 years of age for compulsory military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2009)

Economy:

Turkmenistan is a 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; 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 2003-07, largely because of higher international oil and gas prices.

Transnational Issues:

Cotton 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.