Country: TURKMENISTANturkmenistan

Capital: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)

Geographic Coordinates:  40 00 N, 60 00 E

Population: 4,940,916 (July 2010 est.)

Main Religion: Islam, Eastern Orthodox  

Language: Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Government Type: Republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch

Head of State: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007)

Main Industries:  natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing

GDP in US Dollars (per capita): $6,900 (2009 est.)

Currency Code: Turkmen manat (TMM)

Life Expectancy:  59 years (men), 68 years (women) (UN) 

Environment - current issues: Contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; Salination, water logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; Diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river's inability to replenish the Aral Sea; Desertification.

Issues facing Women and Children: 
  • Acute respiratory infections and diarrhea are the leading causes of infant mortality.
  • Less than half of young people know how to avoid HIV infection.
  • Because teenagers are expected to help with agricultural work, the school year is only 150 days long. The curriculum is unique to Turkmenistan, and omits or gives short shrift to basic core subjects.    

Land Mine Ban Signatory: Y

Local Media: Press: Neytralnyy Turkmenistan, Turkmenistan, Watan (Homeland); Radio and TV: Turkmen Radio, Turkmen TV

Interesting Fact: It possesses the world's fifth largest reserves of natural gas, and has substantial deposits of oil. Yet it is still impoverished, and since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 has remained largely closed to the outside world.    

Famous for: Karakum Desert, Amu Darya River, yurta (nomad home), Arvana dromedary camel, carpets