There are five large regional subdivisions, called velayets . Beneath these are shekhers , then etraps , then ovs . Velayets, shekhers, and etraps have executives called vekils who are appointed and dismissed by the president. In addition each administrative subunit has an elected assembly called a gengeshchi , the chairman of which is an archyn .
The clan system is said still to be very strong in Turkmenistan, and the velayets reflect distribution of the five major clans, whose totems are represented in the state flag.