- The official name of the country is Turkmenistan. It is also known as also known as Turkmenia.
- History. The land that is now Turkmenistan has been the "crossroads of civilizations" for centuries. It was ruled and/or settle by Persia, Alexander the Great, Muslim crusaders, Mongols, Turks, and the Russians. It was annexed by Russia in the late 1800s. It achieved independence when the USSR broke up in 1991. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007.
- Geography. Turkmenistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The Garagum (Kara-Kum) Desert, occupies over 80% of the country. It is a little larger than California. The Kopet Dag Range runs along the southwestern border. The Great Balkhan Range is in the west and the Köýtendag Range is the southeastern border with Uzbekistan.
- Kara-Kum Desert. This desert is one of the largest sand deserts in the world. It contains great amounts of oil and natural gas. It also has the third largest deposits of sulphur in the world.
- Natural Gas / Hydrocarbons. Turkmenistan possesses the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources. This huge amount of hydrocarbon deposits have yet to be fully developed, but already it has begun to change the country. Since 1993, citizens have received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge.[
- Language. As of the1992 Constitution, Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan, although Russian still is widely spoken in cities as a "language of inter-ethnic communication". It is a Turkic language. Since 1991 it has been written in a verson of the Latin alphabet based on the Turkish language.
- Merv. Several cities have been erected on this site over the centuries, in fact traces of villages from the 3rd millennium BCE have been found. In medieval times Merv was an important stop on the Silk Road, the site of a major oasis, a center of religious study. It is said that in the 12th century CE it was the largest city in the world and it was called "Marv-i-shahjahan", meaning Merv – Queen of the World. It is now called Mary and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- President Saparmurat. The government controls almosgtg everything. "Soviet-style" visa requirements, expensive tourist services, distrust of foreigners, the abundance of police and soldiers that are constantly watching are often discouraging to the visitor. The former, and all-powerful President for Life Serdar Saparmurat Niyazov Turkmenbsashi the Great died in 2006, but his actions and policies still have a major effect on the country. During his tenure he re-named several things after himself and his family: cities, the months of January and April, and the word for bread. .He banned prohibitions against photography, lip synching, long hair, video games, and golden tooth caps. He shut down libraries and hospitals.
- Etymology. To uncover the meaning of the name Turkmenistan, it is broken down into three parts. The first sylable, "Turk", comes from "Türk", from the French "Turc", from Medieval Latin "Turcus", from Byzantine Greek "Tourkos", which was a national name, of unknown origin, meaning a Persian Turk. The middle syllable, men, is from the Sogdian suffix "-myn" which means similarity. Turkmen then means resembling a Turk. The final syllable, the suffix "-stan", is a place-name element from the Persian meaning "country," from Indo-Iranian *stanam" meaning place. This literally means where one stands. ," from PIE *sta-no-, suffixed form of root *sta- "to stand". Some scholars state that the element "-man" acts as an intensifer, and so translate the word "turkmen" as most Turk-like of the Turks. Other possibilities for the word "turk" is that it may have meant strength in Turkish. In Persian, it could also have meant a beautiful youth" a barbarian, or a robber.
- Capital. The name of Turkmenistan's capital is Ashgabat. It means the City of Arsaces in Persian, which translates either as the city of love or the city that turkey-men built. Tradition says that it comes from the Arabic word element "ishq" (love) combined with the Persian suffix "abad" (built). The city is a showcase of white marble palaces, golden statues. With the great amount of money coming in from oil and natural gas, the old buildings are being torn down and the city is rapidly changing.
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