More than 80% of the republic's area is made up of the black sand of
the Karaku Desert, which is part of the Turan Plain and one of the world's
largest sand deserts. There are low mountains in the west, and to the south is
the Kopet-Dag mountain range along the border with Iran. The border area with
Afghanistan is also mountainous. The coast of the Caspian Sea is to the south
low, sandy and without bays; to the north there are the bay
of Krasnovodsk with the country's only major port city, Turkmenbasji.
The climate is distinctly mainland climate with cold winters and
very hot summers. The average temperature for July is 28-32 °C. Precipitation
is extremely low, and agriculture is largely possible only with irrigation.
Population. Approximately 77% are Turkmen, 9% Uzbeks and 7%
Russian-speaking; this group has shrunk somewhat since independence. Just under
half of the population lives in cities. Population growth is large due to a high
birth rate (2.8%) and a relatively low death rate; the infant mortality rate is
73 ‰. Life expectancy is 58 years for men and 65 years for women.
Do you know how many people there are in Turkmenistan? Check this site to
see population pyramid and resident density about this country.
Religion. The Turkmen territory was finally conquered by the Arabs
in 750, and the population has since been Muslim (Sunni), albeit with strong
elements of Islamic mysticism (Sufism). The formal Islamic leadership lies with
the Central Asian Muslim Council of Uzbekistan, but in practice both Islam and
the Russian Orthodox Church are governed by a Council of Religious Affairs,
established in 1994 during the presidency. Sunni Islam and the Russian Orthodox
Church are the only recognized denominations in the country.
Industries. The irrigated farm is found in the east along the
river Amu Darja, in the south along the rivers Murgab and Tedzhen and along the
over 1000 km long Karakum canal, which stretches through almost the entire
southern part of the country. The canal is vital for Turkmenistan. It was in
disrepair throughout the 1990's, and the large and often very wasteful water
consumption was a major contributor to the disappearance of the Aral
Sea. Cotton is the country's most important crop. Food is also grown,
wheat, corn, rice, melons and grapes, but the country's own production
covers only approximately 40% of consumption. The country has a large population of
caracal sheep (approximately 6 million), a number of dairy cattle and also a large
production of raw silk.
More important to the economy, however, are Turkmenistan's very large oil and
natural gas deposits, most in the western part of the country and in the area
south of the city of Mary. The natural gas fields contain 2% of the world's
known reserves. The oil is shipped in Turkmenbasji while the gas is distributed
through gas pipelines. Despite declining sales through the 1990's, the country
had around 2000 a large energy export that was still almost entirely dependent
on the Russian distribution network. In the 1990's, many unrealized projects were
drawn up for new export routes. In 1997, however, a gas pipeline to Iran was
opened and in 1996 a new railway from the Tejj to Mashhad in Iran, allowing for
some liberation from the Russian transport monopoly.
In 2006, an agreement was signed with China for the construction of a gas
pipeline to it, and in addition, two alternatives were under consideration: a
trans-Caspian gas pipeline connecting to Turkey via Azerbaijan, which requires a
clarification of the division of the Caspian Sea between coastal states, and a
gas pipeline to Afghanistan and Pakistan and perhaps on to India. In the western
part of the country, at Kara-Bogaz-Gol, a number of minerals and salts are
extracted for the chemical industry.
The industrial sector is poorly developed and employs (incl. Raw material
extraction) only approximately 12% of the workforce, of which only a few
Turkmen. Apart from a few machine factories, there is virtually no heavy
industry. The large production of cotton and wool is also only slightly
processed locally. In Ashgabat and Mary, however, there are a few spinning mills
and weaving mills as well as a number of food companies, including production of
vegetable oil from cotton seeds. The traditional craft continues to play a major
role, in the production of knitted and woven rugs (see Turkmen rugs).
Environment. The intensive cultivation of cotton with excessive use
of fertilizers and pesticides has caused a number of environmental
problems. Several irrigated areas have begun to salt. The problem is solved in
some places by flushing the fields. The salt water is led through special salt
water channels into salt lakes in the desert. Turkmenistan has also experienced
a new environmental problem: After the reduction of the Aral Sea, the country is
now and then plagued by violent salt storms.
Transportation. There are only a few roads and railways in
Turkmenistan. The main line from Turkmenbasji to Uzbekistan was laid before 1917
as part of the Russian empire building in Central Asia; this also applies to the
branch line along the Murgab from Mary to Kushka at the Afghan border. The
northwestern railway along the Amu Darya to the Russian railway network was
built in Soviet times. In parallel with the tracks, country roads and the
Tjardzjou-Turkmenbasji motorway have since been laid out. There is also a
country road through the desert from Ashgabat to Tasjauz in the north.