Turkmenistan is a large country located at inland Asia. It occupies an area of 488,100 sq.km. It bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Geographic location of the country is quite isolated, because it remains in a distance from the world’s major economic centers and also has not outlet to the ocean.
Population of Turkmenistan. Although the country has an area larger than Germany, the population is only about 5.1 million. Most of them are Turkmens. They speak the Turkmen language.
In this language group falls over two thirds of the population. From other language groups with large number are Russian-speaking and Uzbeks.
The reason for the spreading of Russian language is that Turkmenistan was a part of the Soviet Union before its collapse. The biggest cities in Turkmenistan are Ashgabat (1,000,000) Turkmenabad (250 000), Dashkhovuz (200 000) and Mary (150 000).
Turkmenistan is divided into the following provinces: Balkan (in western Turkmenistan), Ahal (here is the capital Ashgabat), Dashogus (in the north central part), Lebap (here is the highest peak in Turkmenistan) and Mary (the most southern part of the country).
Climate of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan falls in the southern parts of the temperate climate zone. Typical for the country are the large temperature differences all year around and throughout the day.
Summers are very hot and dry with temperatures that often exceed 40 °C. Winters are very cold and also very dry. Sometimes winter temperatures are even lower than (-20) °C.
Rainfall is very scarce throughout the year – ranging from 0 mm in July and August to about 40 – 50 mm in spring. The reason is the distance from the ocean and mountain ranges to the south, which prevent the penetration of humid air masses.
Indeed, Turkmenistan has an outlet of the Caspian Sea, but it is an internal body of water with a small footprint and has little impact on the local climate, in a very narrow area around the coast.
The sea makes the coastal climate to be milder and temperature variations – smaller. Scorching summers are a little more bearable, and winters are not so cold.
The difference between day and night temperatures is somewhat more insignificant in comparison with the inland. The capital Ashgabat is located inside the country where the differences are quite large during the year.
Nature of Turkmenistan. Most of the territory of Turkmenistan has a flat terrain.
Mountains represent a very small part of the relief of the country and are concentrated mainly in the southern areas around the borders with Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in the east.
At the border with Uzbekistan is located the highest point of Turkmenistan – Ayribaba peak, 3139 meters high.
Despite the high frontier mountains, about 80% of Turkmenistan is occupied by Turan Valley and Karakumy desert. Most of the country is occupied by dry and barren deserts and semi-arid areas and suffers from drought.
Vegetation is very scarce. It is represented mainly by herbaceous species. On the shore of the Caspian Sea altitude is even negative, i.e below the World Ocean level. Such places are called “depressions”.
Turkmenistan is a country poor in water. The largest river in the country is the Amu Darya River. It flows through the plains of eastern Turkmenistan.
Economy of Turkmenistan. The country has a growing economy and the population live with incomes below the world average.
The country is rich in oil and natural gas and this is the main source of revenues for Turkmenistan. Besides oil, very important for the local economy is also agriculture.
Through the territory of Turkmenistan runs the largest irrigation canal in the world. It irrigates the cotton crops and as a result of this fact, the country can successfully develop its textile industry.
Lifestyle in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is an Islamic country, but the way of life here significantly differs from that in most Muslim countries. The reason is that Turkmenistan is a country which in the recent past has been strongly influenced by the Soviet regime.
The local population is largely sever ties with its cultural past – something that has happened in many socialist countries. Local culture and values were literally crushed by new ones – for example the cult of former USSR.
The way of life in Turkmenistan significantly differs also from that in economically developed countries in Europe and North America for example.
Since this is a country with not very high standard of life, it inevitably affects the lifestyle. Best for living is the capital Ashgabat, which is the largest, richest and most modern city.
Like any other capital Ashgabat is the calling card of the country in the world. But the differences between the capital and towns in the province are too large.
Although Turkmenistan seeks to respect human rights, however, traditions and way of life in the countryside do not allow always that to happen.
Today this country makes a great effort on the issue with the rights of women, but yet domestic violence cases are too many and the number of women who claim their rights – too small.
Tourism in Turkmenistan
Awaza. Turkmenistan is not a very popular tourist destination, although there is an outlet to the Caspian Sea. In the area of the coastal city Turkmenbashi rises modern resort Awaza.
Specific to the locality a warm climate, beautiful beaches and modern tourist facilities create together conditions for the development of a quality tourism product in an unfamiliar and interesting tourist destination.
Typical feature is that all hotels in Awaza are snow white, but unlike many world resorts Awaza is not overbuilt, in contrast to many well-known destinations.
The reason for still many open spaces and the small number of hotels in Awaza is that the resort is in the early stages of development, and probably in the future will become much more popular.
Furthermore, it is somehow very exciting to lie on the beach and to know that you are more than 20 meters below sea level. Still coming in Turkmenistan you should not rely on lots of greenery because it is scarce even in the resorts.
Ashgabat means “city of love.” This is the city with the biggest number and perhaps the most interesting sights.
Well, unlike Awaza there are no beaches on which to lounge enjoying the sunlight, but on behalf of that there are many buildings and monuments, which most likely it will be interesting to see.
One of them is the church Hitrovka. It suggests to Russian influence in this Islamic country, and also about the fact that here lives one comparatively large Russian minority.
Do not miss also the “Arch of neutrality” – a beautiful structure whose summit ends with an impressive golden statue. For it is believed that it was built in the center of Ashgabat.
Next to “The Arch of neutrality” is “Earthquake Memorial”. It was created in memory of victims of the earthquake of 1948. It was 10 degrees on the Richter scale.
The memorial depicts a raging bull who keeps on its horns a globe. On the globe sits a woman who tries to save a small golden child in his arms.
Besides numerous attractions, the center of Ashgabat is the only place where on the streets you can see fresh greenery.
Konye Urgench is a city in northern Turkmenistan. Once it had a very strategic location and was an important economic center for this part of the world.
Today, for its greatness remained only some old buildings which are important cultural and historical monuments.
The city is part of the cultural heritage of UNESCO, and the reason for this is the specific local architecture. Do not miss to visit it, especially if you are fond of architecture.
How to travel to Turkmenistan? The best way to reach Turkmenistan is by plane.
The country has a large area and is occupied primarily by deserts, so hardly for anyone will be a great pleasure to travel by bus through the desert in 45 degree heat of the active tourist season.
You could fly to Turkmenbashi, Ashgabat or elsewhere depending on where you’re headed. Other cities with international airports are Dashhovuz, Mary and Chardzhou.
Travel information about Turkmenistan. It is good if you have decided to travel to this country to start preparing several months in advance because you will be able to obtain all necessary documents without worrying about that in the last minute.
It is advisable to travel as a part of a tour group, because the locals sometimes look unfavourably on individual travellers.
Read carefully the requirements for a visa and inform about what types of visas are there and which corresponds best to your journey as a kind and duration.
What clothes to prepare for tourism in Turkmenistan? Travelling to Turkmenistan, you should know that temperature differences between day and night can be very large.
For example, the nights are pleasantly warm only in June, July and August, while the days are very warm and summer temperatures last from May to mid-October.
From early December to late February days are very cold as temperatures in the period range from 0 to 10 °C, but sometimes can fall sharply to (-10) or even (-20) °C. Nighttime temperatures are negative.
For this period you need very warm winter clothes. In March and April when the weather is quite variable are needed bigger variety of clothes.
Then the temperatures are between 10 and 22 °C, so you have to prepare thin as well as warm clothes. From May to mid-October is summer – hot and dry.
Thin summer clothing is adequate, but for July and August you have to be ready for a great heat. Sometimes temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees!
However, do not go without coat even during this period, because in dry climates such as the local after dark can get pretty cold. Since mid-October to late November is a period of abrupt cooling.
Autumn clothing (warm but not too warm) is the best solution.
Beach season in Turkmenistan. Beach season in Turkmenistan is shorter in comparison with that of the Mediterranean, although in this Asian country summers are quite hot.
Beach season lasts from late May to late September, although almost all May and throughout October offer very pleasant temperatures for tourism.