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Stew Gitlin | profile | all galleries >> The Stans of Central Asia >> Turkmenistan tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Istanbul | Kyrgyzstan | Kazakhstan | Turkmenistan | Uzbekistan | The People of Central Asia | Miscellaneous

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia with a population of about 5 million, and an area around half a million square kilometres, or almost the size of Spain. Neighbouring countries are Iran and Afghanistan to the South, and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the North. It has a coast on the Caspian Sea, but is otherwise landlocked. Nearly 80% of the country is considered part of the Karakum Desert.

The traditional life of the Turkmen is that of nomadic shepherds, though some have been settled in towns for centuries. The country is known for its fine carpets (one is even featured in its flag) and horses. Turkmenistan is a fairly poor and underdeveloped country, even though billions have been spent on modernization in Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi, and many other cities in post Soviet times. While there has been much construction in Ashgabat, most of the downtown high rises appear empty. And also, the country has extensive oil and gas reserves being developed, with recently opened pipelines to China, Iran, and soon Azerbaijan.

Turkmenistan is a very unusual regime. The government is in firm control of nearly everything. Officially tourism is welcomed, but the requirement for expensive guided tours may discourage visitors. The presence of police and military personnel which will watch your every move and prohibit photographing of even mundane objects, make Turkmenistan the least friendly of the Stans. It is unwise for visitors to discuss politics or the omnipresent police and military.

At night, all of Ashgabat including buildings, statues, monuments, etc., gets lit up in an array of changing colors.
The Horse Farm
:: The Horse Farm ::
Two Parties
:: Two Parties ::
Flying over the Tian Shan mountain range from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Flying over the Tian Shan mountain range from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
The new 2.3 billion dollar, hardly ever used, airport
The new 2.3 billion dollar, hardly ever used, airport
There were no planes there when we landed, and none when we left
There were no planes there when we landed, and none when we left
Ashgabat is the largest white-marble city in the world
Ashgabat is the largest white-marble city in the world
The Earthquake Memorial
The Earthquake Memorial
I wonder if anyone ever stays at this hotel
I wonder if anyone ever stays at this hotel
Monument of Neutrality
Monument of Neutrality
Akhal-Teke Horse Monument
Akhal-Teke Horse Monument
Independence Monument
Independence Monument
A five-headed eagle
A five-headed eagle
The largest indoor ferris wheel in the world, and nobody here
The largest indoor ferris wheel in the world, and nobody here
The archeological site of Nisa on the outskirts of Ashgabat
The archeological site of Nisa on the outskirts of Ashgabat
Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque, large enough for 20,000 at prayer
Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque, large enough for 20,000 at prayer
and Mausoleum
and Mausoleum
You too can take one home :)
You too can take one home :)
The Palace of Happiness
The Palace of Happiness
Ashgabat at night
Ashgabat at night