History of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan Flag

Until 1991, Turkmenistan was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union and was known as the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. From 1985 to 2006, Turkmenistan was ruled by a President for Life under a single-party system. This is part of the country's written history which began with its conquest by ancient Persia before 4th century BC. The country remained as the territory of the Persian empire for several centuries until the 7th century AD when it was conquered by the Arabs and made part of Islam's Middle Eastern culture. In the middle of the 11th century, Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, on his way to the west, took control of the eastern region Caspian Sea, that included Turkmenistan, and for next seven centuries, the Persian shahs, the khivan Khans, the emirs of Bukhara and the Afghanistan rulers fought for control of the country but it was in 1894 when Russia gained control of the country following a fight with Great Britain, and promptly incorporated it into its empire, making it as the Turkmen SSR, one of the six republics of the Soviet Union.

By 1917 political unrest started to increase in the country, leading to the Soviets losing their control of the country in 1927 to Turkmen Freedom, a national resistance movement. After being devastated by a powerful earthquake in 1948, the Turkmen people took a long march to be able to declare their independence from Russia on October 27, 1991, and to finally gain recognition of its independence on December 25, 1991, a day before the Soviet Union was dissolved. In 1991, Turkmenistan as a republic joined the United Nations. In 2008, the new government passed a resolution adopting a new constitution allowing a multiple political party system in the country.


UAE Map Turkmenistan Map - Click for larger view
  • Ashgabat - the capital city of Turkmenistan
  • Balkanabat - is a city in Balkan Province, Turkmenistan.
  • Dasoguz - is a city in Dashoguz Province
  • Mary - is a city in Mary Province, Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenabat - is a city in Lebap Province, Turkmenistan
  • Turkmenbashi - formerly known as Krasnovodsk, is in Balkan Province,

People & Culture

The Turkmen people have traditionally been nomads and equestrians, and even today after the fall of the USSR attempts to urbanize the Turkmens have not been very successful. They never really formed a coherent nation or ethnic group until they were forged into one by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Rather they are divided into clans, and each clan has its own dialect and style of dress. Turkmens are famous for making Turkmen rugs, often mistakenly called Bukhara rugs in the West. These are elaborate and colorful rugs, and these too help indicate the distinction between the various Turkmen clans.

The Turkmens are Sunni Muslims but they, like most of the region's nomads, adhere to Islam rather loosely and combine Islam with pre-Islamic animist spirituality. The Turkmens do indeed tend to be spiritual but are by no means militantly religious.

A Turkmen can be identified anywhere by the traditional "telpek" hats, which are large black sheepskin hats that resemble afros. The national dress: men wear high, shaggy sheepskin hats and red robes over white shirts. Women wear long sack-dresses over narrow trousers (the pants are trimmed with a band of embroidery at the ankle). Female headdresses usually consist of silver jeweler. Bracelets and brooches are set with semi-precious stones.

Outside the capital, the national language of Turkmen is the most widely encountered. In Ashgabat, it would be hard to find a person who did not speak Russian, however with recent efforts to revive the ancient culture of Turkmenistan, Turkmen is quickly regaining its place as the chief language of the state.

Two significant figures in Turkmen literature are the poets Magtymguly Pyragy and Mämmetweli Kemine. Turkmen music is very similar to Khorasani music.

Weather and Climate

Turkmenistan Climate
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Turkmenistan has a cold desert climate that is severely continental. Summers are long (from May through September), hot, and dry, while winters generally are mild and dry, although occasionally cold and damp in the north. Most precipitation falls between January and May; precipitation is slight throughout the country, with annual averages ranging from 300 millimeters (11.8 in) in the Kopet Dag to 80 millimeters (3.15 in) in the northwest. The capital, Ashgabat, close to the Iranian border in south-central Turkmenistan, averages 225 millimeters (8.9 in) of rainfall annually. Average annual temperatures range from highs of 16.8 °C (62.2 °F) in Ashgabat to lows of −5.5 °C (22.1 °F) in Daşoguz, on the Uzbek border in north-central Turkmenistan. The almost constant winds are northerly, northeasterly, or westerly.

Public Holidays

Turkmenistan Public Holidays Year 2015
New Year's Day January 1, 2015 Thursday
Memorial Day January 12, 2015 Monday
Flag Day February 19, 2015 Thursday
International Women's Day March 8, 2015 Sunday
Nowruz (Persian New Year) March 21, 2015 Saturday
Heroes' Day May 8, 2015 Friday
Victory Day May 9, 2015 Saturday
Constitution Day May 18, 2015 Monday
Oraza Bayram (End of Ramadan) July 18, 2015 Saturday
Kurban Bayram (Feast of Sacrifice) September 23, 2015 Wednesday
Remembrance Day (Anniversary of the 1948 Earthquake) October 6, 2015 Tuesday
Independence Day October 27, 2015 Tuesday
Neutrality Day December 12, 2015 Saturday

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Turkmenistan. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to heightened tensions throughout the region and crime.