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Turkmenistan: the great desert of Karakum

Turkmenistan (Türkmenistan Jumhuriyati) is a presidential republic in Central Asia, bordering to the south with Iran and Afghanistan, in the east and north with Uzbekistan, to the north with Kazakhstan, while to the west is washed from the Caspian Sea (the largest lake in the world, 371,000 sq km), the capital and main city of the country is Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan consists largely of the Turan Depression plains belonging to the Karakum desert that occupies almost 80% of the territory of the country. In the central-northern area lies the Akdzhak depression (-81 m below sea level), also large part of the flat area along the Caspian Sea lies below sea level.

Few are the mountains of the country, in the south-western section, along the border with Iran rises the Kopet-Dağ chain, which in Turkmenistan reaches almost 3,000 metres high (Shahshah Mount (2,912 meters). The highest mountain of Turkmenistan is Mount Ayrybaba (3,137 meters) in the Kugitang mountains, located in the extreme eastern area of the country. The most important rivers are the Amudarja, which marks the border with ‘ Uzbekistan, and the Murgab.

The economy of Turkmenistan is linked to agriculture (cotton, fruits, vegetables, tobacco and cereals), breeding (sheep (karakul sheep), cattle, silk), forestry, and the important subsoil resources (natural gas, oil, sulphur). The industry of the country has developed in the mining, chemical, textile, and processing of agricultural products and livestock areas.

  • Area: 488,100 sqkm. (Arable 3%, Pastures 61%, Forests and Woodlands 8%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 28%)
  • Population: 5,110,000 (2006 data) (Turkmens 85%, Uzbeks 5%, Russians 5%).
  • State Capital: Ashgabat.
  • Languages: Turkmen language is the official state language. Spoken also Russian, Dari and Uzbek.
  • Religion: Muslim 89%, Orthodox Christian 9%.
  • Currency: Manat (TMM)
  • Time: UTC +5 hours.

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