OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Turkmenistan
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 488,100 Sq Km (188,500 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 5,017,400
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Turkmenistan is located in Central
Asia and is a former republic of the USSR. It is bound by
the Caspian Sea to the west, Kazakhstan to the northwest,
Uzbekistan to the northeast and east, Afghanistan to the
southeast and Iran to the south. Around 85% of the land
area consists of the Kara Kum Desert while the only significant
upland areas are along the southern and eastern borders,
of which Mt. Kopet rises to 2,940 metres (9,650 feet). The
country's only major river is the Amu-Darya which flows
along the Uzbekistan border in the northeast. Major Cities
(pop. est.); Ashgabat 416,400, Charjew 166,400, Dashhowuz
117,000, Mary 94,900, Nebit-Dag 89,100 (1991). Land Use;
forested 8%, pastures 63%, agricultural-cultivated 3%, other
CLIMATE: Turkmenistan has an arid, continental climate with long
hot summers and short cold winters. Average annual precipitation varies
from 76 mm (3 inches) in the desert areas to 305 mm (12 inches) or more
in the southern mountains. Cold air masses from Siberia can cause winter
temperatures to reach -34 degrees Celsius (-29 degrees Fahrenheit), however,
the average temperature in summer is 29 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit)
and 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Turkmen who account
for 72% of the population while 10% are Russians and 9% are Uzbeks. Other
ethnic minorities include Ukrainians, Armenians, Azerbaiji, Kazakhs, Tartars
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 9 persons per sq km (23
persons per sq mi) (1993). Urban-Rural; 45.1% urban, 54.9% rural (1992).
Sex Distribution; 49.3% male, 50.7% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth;
62.9 years male, 69.7 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 41% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1989).
Birth Rate; 33.6 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 7.3 per 1,000 (1992). Increase
Rate; 26.3 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 47.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Sunni Muslims.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Turkmen, although Russian
is also widely spoken and each ethnic minority also has its own language.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: primary or no
formal schooling 13.6%, incomplete secondary 21.3%, secondary and incomplete
post secondary 56.8%, higher 8.3% (1989). Literacy; N/A.
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: On Dec. 13, 1991 Turkmenistan
declared its independence, although prior to independence its history was
closely tied with that of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR). In Mar. 1953 Yosef Stalin died and was succeeded by Georgy Malenkov
who was in turn forced to relinquish the party leadership to Nikita Khrushchev
after a little over one week in power. In 1955 the Warsaw pact militarily
aligned the Soviet Union with other communist countries and in Nov. 1956
the Soviet Red Army invaded Hungary to quell uprisings. In 1957 three communist
ministers unsuccessfully attempted to depose Khrushchev which resulted
in their expulsion from the central committee. In 1962 under Khrushchev's
rule the USSR was involved in the Cuban Missile crisis and in the same
year relations with China were broken off as a result of ideological differences.
In Oct. 1964 Khrushchev was forced to retire and was succeeded by Leonid
Brezhnev. In Aug. 1968 the Warsaw Pact forces led by the Red Army invaded
Czechoslovakia to halt their Prague Spring reforms. In 1977 Breshnev was
elected President. In Nov. 1982 Brezhnev died and was succeeded by Yuri
Andropov, the former head of the KGB. Andropov introduced limited economic
reforms and established an anti-corruption program. In Feb 1984 Andropov
died and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko who in turn died on Mar.
10, 1985. On Mar. 11, 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as Chernenko's
successor and Gorbachev embarked on a program which restructured the USSR's
relations with the West. Gorbachev also established Glasnost (openness)
as well as Perestroika (restructuring and reform). In Apr. 1986 a meltdown
in the reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine sent radioactive
fallout across northern Europe. In Dec. 1987 the USSR and USA signed the
Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF). In Feb. 1988 a dispute erupted
between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which
resulted in mass demonstrations and strikes in the two republics. In Dec.
1988 an earthquake in Armenia killed some 50,000 people. In Apr. 1989 troops
violently repressed demonstrations in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
In Dec. 1989 the Lithuanian Parliament adopted multiparty politics. In
Jan. 1990 Gorbachev visited Lithuania and was met by some 250,000 pro-independence
demonstrators. In Feb. 1990 some 18 people were killed in riots over housing
discrimination in Tajikistan. In May 1990 Boris Yeltsin was elected President
of the Russian Federation and on Nov. 1, 1990 launched a 500 day plan to
give the Russian Republic a free market economy. In June 1990 Nakhichevan
an Azerbaijani enclave bordering Iran declared its intention for a unification
with Iran while a civil war was escalating between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In the same month around 150 people were killed during ethnic clashes in
Kyrgyzstan. In Jan 1991 another 15 people were killed as the Red Army seized
a television station in Lithuania while in Latvia the Soviet Black Berets
killed 5 people in an attack on the ministry building. In the same month
troops were being deployed in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. In
Mar. 1991 pro-Yeltsin demonstrators held a mass rally. On Aug. 18, 1991
as Gorbachev was vacationing in the Crimea, the Politburo hard liners attempted
a coup to remove Gorbachev from power through the declaration of a State
of Emergency under the control of a State Committee. Almost immediately
republic leaders declared the emergency committee illegal as well as unconstitutional
and began to barricade their parliaments as troops and tanks were deployed
throughout the republics. By Aug. 20 senior officers had refused to order
their troops to use force against the civilians and on Aug. 21, 1991 the
coup collapsed as troops were ordered to return to their barracks. Immediately
following the unsuccessful coup many republics suspended or purged the
communist party and on Sept. 5, 1991 after 3 days of debate the 74 years
of centralized communist control came to an end. In Jan. 1992 Turkmenistan
became a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
On May 18, 1992 Turkmenistan adopted a new constitution which guaranteed
political pluralism, although ethnic and religious parties were forbidden,
and guaranteed the right to private ownership of property. In June 1992
Saparmuryad Niyazov was elected President as the only candidate in the
country's first presidential election. In Oct. 1992 Turkmenistan and Ukraine
signed several treaties for gas and oil exploration and in Nov. 1992 signed
an agreement with a US-Turkish consortium to construct a natural gas pipeline
to Europe. Also in 1992 economic ties were developed with Iran, with air
and rail links planned. In 1993 Turkmenistan actively pursued foreign assistance
for its oil and petroleum industries. In Sept. 1993 Turkmenistan became
an associate member of the CIS Economic Union and in Nov. 1993 left the
rouble zone, introducing its own currency. Also in 1993 Pres. Niyazov's
authoritarianism attracted criticism from foreign human right groups for
his treatment of opposition groups, although he his popularity remained
high with foreign investors attributing political stability to his authoritarianism.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Manat (M).
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $4,898,390,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $650,000,000 (1992). Imports; R 5,497,000,000 (1992). Exports;
R 7,906,000,00 (1992). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; R 2,409,000,000
(1992). Economically Active Population; 1,572,900 or 40.8% of total population
(1992). Unemployed; 22% (1991).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partner is the CIS.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Alfalfa, Clay, Cotton, Glauber's Salt, Grapes,
Gypsum, Limestone, Melons, Natural Gas, Oil, Sheep, Sulfur, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Carpets, Chemicals, Glass, Oil Refining, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Carpets, Chemicals, Gas, Petroleum, Textiles.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,120 km (1,317 mi) (1990),
passenger-km N/A., cargo ton-km 34,100,000 (1990). Roads; length 13,400
km (1990). Vehicles; cars 170,600 (1988). Merchant Marine; N/A. Air Transport;
passenger-km 3,253,000,000 (2,021,000,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km
324,200,000 (222,045,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 66 with a total circulation
of 1,141,000 (1989). Radio; receivers 823,000 (1991). Television; receivers
705,000 (1991). Telephones; units 265,100 (1993).
MILITARY: 25,000 (joint CIS) (1995) total active duty personnel
with 100% army while military expenditure accounts for 1.5% (1993) of the
Gross National Product (GNP).
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