- Brief Look
- Fun Facts
- Turkmenistan in OBOR
- A Little More About Turkmenistan
- General Information
A Very Brief Look at the Country
Located at the West of Central Asia, Turkmenistan has been experiencing rapid GDP growth in the past few years.
Although 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert (which means “Black Sand” in Turkmen), it contains the world’s 4th largest natural gas reserves and at least 700 million tons worth of oil reserves.
Turkmenistan is the biggest gas supplier to China, and is a net exporter of electrical power to its neighboring countries.
The city of Merv (now named as Mary) in Southeast Turkmenistan was an oasis city that served as an important trading center on the ancient Silk Road, and was the largest city in the world back in the 12th century. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Turkmenistan has the world’s largest national flag and this has granted it a place in the Guiness Book of World Records
- The “Door to Hell” is located in Turkmenistan? The “Door to Hell” refers to a natural gas field that has been burning for more than 40 years!
- All citizens have been enjoying free electricity, water, salt and natural gas from the government since 1993
- Car drivers are entitled to 40, 120 or 200 litres of free fuel from the government per month, depending on the types of their vehicles
- According to the law, one is forbidden to sing with playback
- At the east end of the country, The Kugitang Reserve of Turkmenistan has a rock plateau imprinted with 2500 footprints of dinosaurs
- Because of its special climate condition, Turkmenistan has the longest irrigation canal in the world
- Historically the Turkmens have been nomads. There are as many as almost 100 clans in Turkmenistan, where each clan has its own dialect and clothing!
- Turkmenistan is the birthplace of the world reknown handwoven colourful Bukhara rugs
- The Akhal-Teke, a famous sport horse and one of the oldest existing horse breeds, has been bred by the Turkmens as early as 3000 years ago
- In the capital of Ashgabat, everyone is required to adhere to a long-term 11pm curfew, which has been constantly imposed for almost 25 years!
The country relies heavily on exporting energy resources to nearby countries.
Turkmenistan also has a distinctive working demography as most of the working population are employed by the government or by government-related companies.
Logistics within the country has remained a huge hindrance for its routes to export, despite Turkmenistan has been experiencing an average of 7% increase in GDP in recent years.
Countries that have been purchasing gas, oil or electricity from Turkmenistan include Russia, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. China has been heavily investing in the country, including roads and railways. Imports of motor vehicles from China are also on the rise due to its competitive price.
Agriculture also makes up an important section of the country’s economy, whereby 21% of Turkmenistan’s GDP in 2014 was contributed by agriculture. Half of the irrigated agricultural lands are planted with cotton, making Turkmenistan one of the important exporters of cotton in the world.
However, as difficulties with irrigation continued to rise due to the country’s lack of precipitation, exports of the water-consuming plant have experienced drastic fall in the past few years. Wheat is another crop cultivated that has made significant contribution to the Turkmen economy.
Turkmenistan is slightly larger than California of the United States.
Having the Karakum Desert occupying 80% of its land, Turkmenistan does not have many elevations. The Caspian Sea on the west is entirely landlocked, and there is no natural access from the Caspian Sea to the ocean.
To many people’s surprises, the desert country enjoys distinctive four seasons.
In winter temperature easily drops below 0°C, and one may also expect snow!
Turkmenistan in OBOR
- In May 2015, Turkmenistan released the Ashgabat Declaration to establish development of cooperation in the field of energy between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the European Union
- The High-Level International Conference on the Role of Transport and Transit Corridors was held in Sept 2014 in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Jointly organized by the Government of Turkmenistan and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the OSCE, the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the Intergovernmental Commission on Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA), the conference was attended by more than 200 representatives from 33 countries and 16 international organizations. Issues discussed included financing transport infrastructures, legal framework for international transport, border crossing facilitation and security, a place of Central Asia in the global logistics and integrated supply chains, and more.
- In May 2014, Turkmenistan and China has signed a number of bilateral documents to develop stronger strategic partnership, as well as MOU on cooperation in several fields. Industries covered in these documents include transportation, agriculture, finance and energy
- Increase in bilateral trade between Turkmenistan and China is estimated at $20 billion between 2014-2018
- Intergovernmental agreement was reached between relative countries to build the TAPI pipeline
- (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). Construction will commence in December 2015
- There is a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline under construction to bring gas from Turkmenistan to Russia and to Turkey and other European countries
A Little More About Turkmenistan
Living as nomads since centuries ago had given a carefree and embracing characteristic in Turkmen people.
Although about 90% of the population are Muslims, they still adhere to some pre-Islamic religious practices, which is uncommon in many Muslim countries.
Green seems to be the country’s favorite color, as you can see a big block of green on its national flag, as well as different people wearing the same shade of the color on the streets in the capital of Ashgabat.
Although residents can enjoy many free goods from the government, the country’s system is also known to be a rather autocratic one.
Censorship prevails in Turkmenistan and spies are found everywhere in the capital. One may not speak of politics or even mention the name of president in public, and photo shooting is a taboo.
Foreigners must be accompanied by authorized tour guides to travel outside Ashgabat, and women are not supposed to walk alone on the streets at night.
However, the carefree and embracing Turkmen people do seem to be taking these into their stride, and they love to smile and laugh as much as they love vodka.
Turkmens may be a bit cautious of outsiders, but the nomadic blood does run in them and they would always offer the best for their guests once they become friends.
|Currency||. Manat. In which 1 TMT roughly = 1.9~2.4 HK Dollars|
|Population||. 5.2 million (2014 estimate)|
|Official language||. Turkmen. Russian is widely spoken in the country|
|Timezone||. GMT + 5:00. (3 hours behind Hong Kong)|
|Climate||. Subtropical desert. Midwinter average temp : -2~5°C. Midsummer average temp : 35~41°C. Coastal area of the country enjoys a slightly more moderate temperature than the inlands. Precipitation in the country is scarce throughout the year.|