Present-day Turkmenistan covers territory that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. The area was ruled in antiquity by various Persian empires, and was conquered by Alexander the Great, Muslim armies, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. In medieval times, Merv (located in present-day Mary province) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia in the late 1800s, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic; it achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited, have begun to transform the country. The Government of Turkmenistan is moving to expand its extraction and delivery projects and has attempted to diversify its gas export routes beyond Russia's pipeline network. In 2010, new gas export pipelines that carry Turkmen gas to China and to northern Iran began operating, effectively ending the Russian monopoly on Turkmen gas exports. Subsequently, decreased Russian purchases, as well as limited purchases by Iran, have made China the dominant buyer of Turkmen gas. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a deputy cabinet chairman under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president; he was reelected in February 2012 with 97% of the vote, in an election widely regarded as undemocratic.



Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan

Geographic coordinates

40 00 N, 60 00 E

Map references



total: 488,100 sq km
land: 469,930 sq km
water: 18,170 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than California

Land boundaries

total: 4,158 km
border countries (4): Afghanistan 804 km, Iran 1,148 km, Kazakhstan 413 km, Uzbekistan 1,793 km


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

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


subtropical desert


flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west


mean elevation: 230 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Vpadina Akchanaya -81 m (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 resources

petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt

Land use

agricultural land: 72%
arable land 4.1%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 67.8%
forest: 8.8%
other: 19.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

19,950 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

contamination 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 agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

landlocked; 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

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)

Birth rate

19.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)


5,291,317 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Turkmen(s)
adjective: Turkmen


Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%


Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.95% (male 695,752/female 677,166)
15-24 years: 19.04% (male 506,856/female 500,647)
25-54 years: 42.86% (male 1,125,058/female 1,142,870)
55-64 years: 7.59% (male 189,464/female 212,330)
65 years and over: 4.56% (male 105,140/female 136,034) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.9%
youth dependency ratio: 41.7%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.1%
potential support ratio: 16.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 27.5 years
male: 27 years
female: 28 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.13% (2016 est.)

Death rate

6.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

the most densly populated areas are the southern, eastern, and northeastern oases; approximately 50% of the population lives in and around the capital of Ashgabat


urban population: 50% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.94% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

ASHGABAT (capital) 746,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.89 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

42 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 35.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 42.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 28.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.1 years
male: 67.1 years
female: 73.3 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.08 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

48% (2006)

Health expenditures

2.1% of GDP (2014)

Hospital bed density

4 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 89.1% of population
rural: 53.7% of population
total: 71.1% of population
urban: 10.9% of population
rural: 46.3% of population
total: 28.9% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 100% of population
rural: 98.2% of population
total: 99.1% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 1.8% of population
total: 0.9% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

18.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

9.2% (2006)

Education expenditures

3% of GDP (2012)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.6 (2006 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: the suffix "-stan" means "place of" or "country," so Turkmenistan literally means the "Land of the Turkmen [people]"

Government type

presidential republic; highly authoritarian


name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

5 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)


27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day, 27 October (1991)


adopted 18 May 1992; amended several times, last in 2016 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system with Islamic law influences

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Turkmenistan
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note - the president is both 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/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 12 February 2012 (next to be held in February 2017); note – presidential election is still planned for February 2017 despite a 2016 constitutional amendment that extends the presidential term from 5 to 7 years
election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW reelected president; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW 97.1%, Annageldi YAZMYRADOW 1.1%, other candidates 1.8%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Mejlis (125 seats; members directly elected from districts having about the same number of voters; members serve 5-year terms); note - in September 2008, a constitutional change abolished a second, 2,507-member People's Council and expanded the membership in the National Assembly to 125 from 65; the powers formerly held by the People's Council were divided between the president and the National Assembly
elections: last held on 15 December 2013 (next to be held in December 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 47, Organization of Trade and Unions of Turkmenistan 33, Women's Union of Turkmenistan 16, Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs 14, Magtymguly Youth Organization 8, independents 7; note - all of these parties support President BERDIMUHAMIDOW

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Turkmenistan (consists of the court president and 21 associate judges and organized into civil, criminal, and military chambers)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: High Commercial Court; appellate courts; provincial, district, and city courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

Agrarian Party of Turkmenistan or APT [Rezhep BAZAROV] (government created in September 2014, like the PIE, but not represented in parliament)
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Kasymguly BABAYEW]
Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs or PIE [Orazmammet MAMMEDOW]
note: a law authorizing the registration of political parties went into effect in January 2012; unofficial, small opposition movements exist abroad

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

ADB, CIS (associate member, has not ratified the 1993 CIS charter although it participates in meetings and held the chairmanship of the CIS in 2012), 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, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mered Bairamovich ORAZOW (since 14 February 2001)
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Allan MUSTARD (since 20 January 2015)
embassy: No. 9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street), Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 744000
mailing address: 7070 Ashgabat Place, Washington, DC 20521-7070
telephone: [993] (12) 94-00-45
FAX: [993] (12) 94-26-14

Flag description

green 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; five white stars and a white crescent moon appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe; the green color and crescent moon represent Islam; the five stars symbolize the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan; the guls reflect the national identity of Turkmenistan where carpet-making has long been a part of traditional nomadic life
note: the flag of Turkmenistan is the most intricate of all national flags

National symbol(s)

Akhal-Teke horse; national colors: green, white

National anthem

name: "Garassyz, Bitarap Turkmenistanyn" (Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem)
lyrics/music: collective/Veli MUKHATOV
note: adopted 1997, lyrics revised in 2008, following the death of President Saparmurat NYYAZOW, to eliminate references to him


GDP (purchasing power parity)

$94.77 billion (2016 est.)
$89.95 billion (2015 est.)
$84.46 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Economy - overview

Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Althou

Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments under presidents NIYAZOW (1991-2006) and BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 2007) have made little progress improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, and combatting corruption, limiting economic developme

Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arrears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued

GDP (official exchange rate)

$36.57 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

5.4% (2016 est.)
6.5% (2015 est.)
10.3% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$17,300 (2016 est.)
$16,700 (2015 est.)
$15,900 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

20.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
9.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
-22.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 50%
government consumption: 10.9%
investment in fixed capital: 26.7%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 33.9%
imports of goods and services: -21.6% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 13.2%
industry: 47.7%
services: 39.2% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, grain, melons; livestock


natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing

Industrial production growth rate

1% (2016 est.)

Labor force

2.305 million (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 14%
services: 37.8% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate

11% (2014 est.)
10.6% (2013)

Population below poverty line

0.2% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

40.8 (1998)


revenues: $3.765 billion
expenditures: $4.753 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

10.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

11% (2016 est.)
16% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

5% (31 December 2014)
5% (31 December 2013)

Stock of narrow money

$1.326 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.255 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money

$12.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.632 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$28.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$13.09 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$6.78 billion (2016 est.)
-$3.695 billion (2015 est.)


$8.756 billion (2016 est.)
$10.38 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber

Exports - partners

China 68.6%, Turkey 4.9% (2015)


$7.467 billion (2016 est.)
$8.198 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners

Turkey 24.9%, Russia 12.3%, China 10.9%, UAE 9.1%, Kazakhstan 5.1%, Germany 4.6%, Iran 4.4% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$10.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$13.62 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$502.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$454.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$3.061 billion (2013 est.)
$3.117 billion (2012 est.)

Exchange rates

Turkmen manat (TMM) per US dollar -
4.25 (2016 est.)
3.5 (2015 est.)
3.5 (2014 est.)
2.85 (2013 est.)
2.85 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

22.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

13 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

3.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

4.275 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)

Crude oil - production

243,100 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

70,740 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

600 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

173,200 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

145,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

47,830 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

76 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

30.2 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

45.79 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

7.504 trillion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

67 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 648,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 7.842 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 150 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: telecommunications network is gradually improving
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; combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity is ab
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 (2015)

Broadcast media

broadcast media is government controlled and censored; 7 state-owned TV and 4 state-owned radio networks; satellite dishes and programming provide an alternative to the state-run media; officials sometimes limit access to satellite TV by removing satellit (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 785,000
percent of population: 15% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 23
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,138,389
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

EZ (2016)


26 (2013)

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 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 4 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 7,500 km; oil 1,501 km (2013)


total: 2,980 km
broad gauge: 2,980 km 1.520-m gauge (2014)


total: 58,592 km
paved: 47,577 km
unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)


1,300 km (Amu Darya and Kara Kum canal are important inland waterways) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 11
by type: cargo 4, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 5, refrigerated cargo 1 (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Caspian Sea - Turkmenbasy


Military branches

Turkmen Armed Forces: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18-27 years of age for compulsory male military service; 2-year conscript service obligation; 20 years of age for voluntary service; males may enroll in military schools from age 15 (2015)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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; bilateral talks continue with Azerbaijan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 7,125 (2015)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Turkmenistan is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Turkmen who migrate abroad are forced to work in the textile, agriculture, construction, and domestic service industries, while women and girls may also be sex trafficked; in 2014, men surpassed women as victims; Turkey and Russia are primary trafficking destinations, followed by the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and other parts of Europe; Turkmen also experience forced labor domestically in the informal construction industry; participation in the cotton harvest is still mandatory for some public sector employees
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Turkmenistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, Turkmenistan was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government made some progress in its law enforcement efforts in 2014, convicting more offenders than in 2013; authorities did not make adequate efforts to identify and protect victims and did not fund international organizations or NGOs that offered protective services; some victims were punished for crimes as a result of being trafficked (2015)

Illicit drugs

transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan