Turkmen carpets and Akhal-Teke horses, Sunday bazaars and innumerable historical monuments, such as ruins of the ancient fortresses of the Achaemenid dynasty and archaeological sites of the Parthian period, the ancient cities of Merv (Turkmen Merw, Persian Marw), Koneurgench and Nisa, medieval castles, forts, caravanserais, mosques, mausoleums and tombs – all this attracts numerous tourists to hot Turkmenistan.
Among the contemporary places of interest that any tourist must visit are the gigantic Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque, the Turkmenbashi and Ruhyyet palaces, the Independence Monument, the Arch of Neutrality and, certainly, the Turkmen Carpet Museum, where among numerous ancient artefacts you cal see a colossal modern carpet 301 sq m in area, called ‘The Golden Age of Saparmurat Turkmenbashi’.
Apart from interesting historical and modern monuments, Turkmenistan boasts a number of natural attractions, such as the large Karakum desert with its dunes, the Bakharden cave with Kou Ata Underground Lake in it, the famous Door to Hell – aburning crater near the village of Derweze (Darvaze), the Plateau of the Dinosaurs (Khojalil), the Yangikala Canyons, the Repetek National Park, the Kugitang Nature Reserve, the Kopet Dag Preserve and other interesting objects.
Despite its strict visa system, Turkmenistan today is one of the most attractive countries of Central Asia for tourists. Turkmenistan amazes and enraptures, cooks delicious food and celebrates holidays in a most spectacular way. For many years this country continues to fascinate those who love the Asian culture.
General information on Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan, the territory of which in the course of history was occupied by almost all major rulers of the East, is now an independent state. Situated in Central Asia, it borders on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Iran. The country’s inhabitants are happy enough to listen to the sound of surf at the Caspian Sea, which is in fact a gigantic saltwater lake having no connection with the ocean.
The country is situated on an area of 491,200 sq km. About 80 % of Turkmenistan’s lands are occupied by deserts. Although barely suitable for agriculture, they contain resources of natural gas large enough to place the country among the world’s leaders in this sphere.
The population of Turkmenistan is 5,169,660 people.
Turkmen are the indigenous people of Turkmenistan and make up 91 % of the country’s population, with Uzbeks comprising 3 % of the people and Russians – 2 %. Kazakhs inhabit mostly the northern part of Turkmenistan and the area along the Caspian Sea shore.
The country is governed by the president. In the previous decade the political system of the state changed greatly. Until 2006 Saparmurat Niyazov was the permanent president of Turkmenistan, while today’s leader must be elected for a five-year term. Mejlis, the local parliament, performs the legislative functions. Recently political parties have started to appear in the country.
Administrative and territorial division.
Turkmenistan is divided into 5 provinces (velayat), with one city, the capital, having the rights of a province.The capital of the country is Ashgabat with a population of 900,000 people. The city was included in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of buildings of white marble, which, together with an interesting blend of elements of eastern and European architecture, make the capital one of the most beautiful cities in Central Asia.
Official language – Turkmen.
Monetary unit – manat. Use of any other currency for making payments is officially prohibited in the territory of Turkmenistan.
The overwhelming majority of the population, 89 %, professes the Sunni branch of Islam, with 9 % of the people being the followers of the Christian religion. Only 2 % are representatives of other religious groups. Turkmenistan has several Islamic holy places, such as cemeteries and medieval tombs, which often attract a number of pilgrims.
The whole territory of Turkmenistan lies in one time zone, and the clocks do not switch to summer time. The local time differs unchangeably from the Greenwich Time by +5 hours.
Standards B and F sockets with a voltage of 220 V and a frequency of 50 Hz are used throughout Turkmenistan. Climate in Turkmenistan.
The climate in Turkmenistan is continental, dry, with great temperature fluctuations, low precipitation and high evaporation. The summer is usually hot and dry, with an average temperature of 28-32°C in July. The winter is mild and with little snow; however, some years feature short but strong snowfalls, and at times the temperature may drop to -20°C. The average temperature of January ranges from -5°С in the northeast of the country to +4°C in the south. Continuous winds bringing cold masses of air from the steppe regions of Kazakhstan in winter time and hot masses from the mountain slopes causing sandstorms in summer time are the most characteristic feature of the Turkmen climate.
The best time to visit Turkmenistan is spring (from March to May) and autumn (from September to November).