(pronounced "saa-par-MUR-ad nih-YAH-zoff")
"Right from the start of perestroika, we embarked on economic reforms, and we did this gradually, adapting to national features and the people's mentality and traditions."
The Republic of Turkmenistan borders on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to the north and east, Iran and Afghanistan to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. It covers a total land area of 488,100 sq km (188,455 sq mi). The capital is Ashkhabad, near the border with Iran. The Caspian seaport of Krasnovodsk is called the "gateway to Central Asia." The least populous of the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union, about 90% of the land area is covered by the Kara Kum desert.
The population is 4.7 million (July 2002 estimate), of whom 77% are Turkmen, 7% are Russian, 9% are Uzbek, and 7% represent other ethnic backgrounds. The official language is Turkmen; 72% of the population speak Turkmen fluently, and 12% speak Russian fluently. In a move to emulate the Turkish model of modernization and Westernization, the Latin alphabet has been chosen to replace the Cyrillic (Slavic) alphabet. The majority of the population is Muslim; most Russians are Russian Orthodox.
Turkmenistan is among the world's top 10 in cotton production, and agriculture accounts for about one-half of employment. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at US $4,700 (2001 estimate). Poverty is widespread and infant mortality and drug use are high. State subsidies for some food and other necessities provide some relief. Environ-mental problems center around the shrinkage of the Aral Sea and widespread water pollution.
ul. Karla Marksa, 24