Turkmenistan is located in central Asia, bordered by Iran (992 kilometers/616 miles) to the south, Uzbekistan (1,621 kilometers/1,007 miles) to the northeast, Kazakhstan (379 kilometers/235 miles) to the north, Afghanistan (744 kilometers/462 miles) to the southeast, and the Caspian Sea (1,786 kilometers/1,110 miles) to the west. Turkmenistan has an area of 488,100 square kilometers (188,455 square miles), slightly larger than the state of California. The capital, Ashgabat, is located in the south-central part of the country, near the border with Iran.


The Turkmenistan population is smaller than in other central Asian states. According to the last Soviet census in 1989, 2.54 million Turkmens lived in the republic. In 1989 Turkmens comprised 68.4 percent of the population, Russians 9.5 percent, Uzbeks 9 percent, and Kazakhs 2 percent. Due to the emigration of Russians, in 1998 Turkmens made up 77 percent of the population, and Russians only 6.7 percent. Of all the former Soviet Republics, Turkmenistan had the highest infant mortality rate—73.25 per 1,000 in 1997—and the shortest life expectancy, 61 years in 2001 (both figures estimated). During the next decade, population growth is expected to slow considerably as infant mortality rates increase and health care deteriorates.

Only 3 percent of Turkmenistan's land is arable. The Kara Kum, or Black Sand Desert, occupies almost 75 percent of Turkmenistan's territory. The 16 urban areas along its borders and coastline account for 45 percent of the population. Almost 50 percent of the population lives around the capital, Ashgabat, and only 2 other cities have populations with more than 100,000 inhabitants.


Turkmenistan has no territories or colonies.


Capisani, Giampaolo. The Handbook of Central Asia: A Comprehensive Survey of the New Republics. New York and London: I. B. Tauris, 2000.

Country Watch. Turkmenistan 1999/2000. <http://countrywatch.com/files/175/cw_country.asp?vCOUNTRY=175> . Accessed March 2001.

Curtis, Glenn, editor. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan: Country Studies. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1996.

Freedom House. "Turkmenistan." <http://freedomhouse.org/nit98/turkmen.html> . Accessed February 2001.

Freitag-Wirminghaus, Rainer. "Turkmenistan's Place in CentralAsia and the World." In Post-Soviet Central Asia, edited by Touraj Atabaki and John O'Kane. London and New York: Tauris Academic Studies, 1998.

Gurgen, Emine, and others. Economic Reforms in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Washington DC: International Monetary Fund, 1999.

O'Hara, Sarah, and Tim Hannan. "Irrigation and Water Management in Turkmenistan: Past Systems, Present Problems and Future Scenarios." Europe-Asia Studies. Vol. 51, 1999.

—Steven Sabol




Turkmen manat (TMM). One manat equals 100 tenge. There are notes of TMM1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tenge.


Natural gas, petroleum, cotton, chemicals, processed food, minerals.


Machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, fuel, food and dairy products, sugar, textiles.


US$19.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$2.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.). Imports: US$1.65 billion (c.i.f., 2000 est.).

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