Situated in a good geographical location, Turkmenistan is a place to pay a visit in the Central Asia. Known for its rich culture, deep history, beautiful landscape and multinational family structure, it is indeed a country with a good reputation. You will see how the country managed to keep their traditional culture while embracing the culture of the new society. Turkmenistan is widely known because of the Turkmen Carpets that are truly legendary. The carpets are made from artistically woven wool, has deep, impressive red patterns and traditional ghels. The Turkmen Carpets serve as the symbolic motifs in the country.
Important and Interesting Facts about Turkmenistan
- Turkmenistan is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia.
- Turkmenistan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the northeast and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west.
- It possesses the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources.Although it is wealthy in natural resources in certain areas, most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert.
- Since 1993, citizens have received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge on a guarantee scheduled to last until 2030.
- A natural gas field in the country known as Door to Hell draws frequent media attention and more recently, also touristic interest.
- Ashgabat is the country’s largest city. The city is located between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range. The city is home to one of the largest mosques in Central Asia the Kipchak mosque also known as the ‘Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque’.
- The city of Dekhistan is situated in the west of Turkmenistan near the Caspian Sea. The city is located in the Misrian Valley; which has one of the most unique terrains of any places in Central Asia. Dekhistan vaunts its beautiful towers of ancient settlements and 10th-12th- century monuments; it also has one of the most ancient mosque of the early Islamic period.
- The medieval city of Abiverd is located in the province of Ahal in Southern Turkmenistan near the Iranian border. The city has the ruins of an ancient fortress and a mosque.
- The city of Saraghs in an oasis town located in Turkmenistan’s Ahal province. The city was an important oasis on the Silk Road. The mausoleum of Sufi Abul Faz also known as Serakhs Baba is located in Saragh. The burial site of Sheikh Ahmed Al Khady is also present in the city and is known by the name of Yarty Gumbez mausoleum.
- The Annau Archeology site is located on the Silk Road, excavations started in the area in 1904. During the excavations skeletons of children, painted pottery, geometrical decorations and the oldest remains of camels were discovered. It is accepted that camels were first domesticated here. The Seyit Jemaletdin Mosque is one of the most amazing structures in this country. The mosque is fitted with blue tiles that make it stand apart.
- Nissa was one of the most important cities of the Parthian Empire; the city is located in the southwest of Ashgabat. The city was completely destroyed by an earthquake that occurred during the first decade BC. The ruins of the fortress at Nissa are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Merv was another of Central Asia’s well known Oasis towns on the Silk Road. According to claims Merv was the largest city in the world around the 12th Century. It is believed that the Hindu religion started here in Mount Meru which Hinduism declares to be the center of the world.
Cool and Funny Facts about Turkmenistan
- Dogs were banned from Ashgabat because of their “unappealing odor.”
- Turkmenbashi,nation’s leader banned gold tooth caps and gold teeth, and suggested that tooth preservation could be more easily accomplished by chewing on bones.
- Months and days of the week were renamed after Turkmenbashi’s mother and other family members (for instance, April was renamed simply Gurbansoltan, his mother’s name).
- In 2004 Turkmenbashi banned newscasters from wearing make-up. Why? He said he couldn’t tell the male and female news readers apart and that made him uncomfortable
- Until very recently, the tallest structure in the capital and largest city, Ashgabat, was the 170-ft high Neutrality Arch. Hiro described it as “an amalgamation of a tripod Eiffel Tower and a marble-covered space rocket. It would be crowned with a twenty-foot-tall, gold-plated statue of Niyazov in a Superman cloak, his arms raised aloft, set to rotate 360 degrees every twnety-four hours so as to always face the sun and reflect light on the city.” Tragically, the arch was taken down on August 26, 2010 in a move widely seen as the first step towards dismantling the ostentatious personality cult that surrounded the late Niyazov.
- It used tobe that a young unmarried woman proved her worth by displaying how well she wove a carpet.
- The Kugitang Reserve is world-famous for its dinosaur footprints. These are imprinted into its rock plateau.
- As of 2008, Turkmenistan boasts of a 100% total adult literacy rate.
- One of the projects of the former president Saparmurat Niyazov is a ski resort in a Turkmenistanmountain with no snow.
- Gas and electricity are free in Turkmenistan, so some citizens opt to have their stoves burning 24/7 to avoid the cost of using matches.
- A 133-meter-high flagpole standing in Ashgabat is one of the tallest flagpoles in the world.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Turkmenistan
- Turkmenistan was once part of the ancient Persian Empire. The Turkmen people were originally pastoral nomads and some of them continued this way of life up into the 20th century, living in transportable dome-shaped felt tents.
- The territory was ruled by the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century. The Mongols of Ghenghis Khan conquered the land in the 13th century; they dominated the area for the next two centuries until they were deposed in the late 15th century by invading Uzbeks.
- Prior to the 19th century, Turkmenia was divided into two lands, one belonging to the khanate of Khiva and the other belonging to the khanate of Bukhara. In 1868, the khanate of Khiva was made part of the Russian Empire and Turkmenia became known as the Transcaspia Region of Russian Turkistan.
- Turkmenistan was later formed out of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, founded in 1922, and was made an independent Soviet Socialist Republic on May 13, 1925. It was the poorest of the Soviet republics.
- Turkmenistan declared its sovereignty in Aug. 1990 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Dec. 21, 1991, together with ten other former Soviet republics. It established a government more authoritarian than those functioning in the other newly independent central Asian republics. President Saparmurat Niyazov, also called the Turkmenbashi (Leader of All Turkmens), has attempted to create a cult of personality through extravagant self-promotion.
- The Turkmens are Sunni Muslims but they, like most of the region’s nomads, adhere to Islam rather loosely and combine Islam with pre-Islamic animist spirituality. The Turkmens do indeed tend to be spiritual but are by no means militantly religious.
- A Turkmen can be identified anywhere by the traditional “telpek” hats, which are large black sheepskin hats that resemble afros. The national dress: men wear high, shaggy sheepskin hats and red robes over white shirts. Women wear long sack-dresses over narrow trousers (the pants are trimmed with a band of embroidery at the ankle). Female headdresses usually consist of silver jewellery. Bracelets and brooches are set with semi-precious stones…
- The diet shows a Russian influence and imported items are available at a high price, but Türkmen food generally remains traditional.Hot green tea ( gök çaÿ ) accompanies most meals. Türkmen drink hot tea year round from shallow bowl-like cups called käses.
- Historic customs are still revered by the Türkmen. Adat is Türkmen customary law. Edep is the guideline of etiquette and behavior, and Şarigat is Islamic law. Sometimes in combination or with precedence in separate arenas, these advise Türkmen on how to interact socially and live with a sense of Türkmenness ( Türkmençilik ).
- Türkmen literary tradition is a rich mosaic of pre-Islamic Turkic elements fused with Islamic influences. Examples of folk traditions still highly valued today include the dastans Gorgut Ata and Göroglu which illustrate early Turkic culture overlaid with Islamic values. A dastan is a combination epic tale and lyric poem which formed the basis of oral tradition. The dastan was sung by a bagşy who memorized thousands of lines and sang them while playing various instruments.
- The Soviet system introduced theaters, television, radio, and cinemas to Türkmenistan, which imparted Soviet values. Today satellite dishes are becoming popular in the cities and broadcasts of Indian music videos. Mexican and American soap operas are popular, as well as American pop music.