Turkmenistan (/tɜrkˈmɛnɪstæn/ or /tɜrkmɛnɪˈstɑːn/, Turkmen: Türkmenistan), also known as Turkmenia (Russian: Туркмения) is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, Uzbekistan to the east and northeast, Kazakhstan to the north and northwest and the Caspian Sea to the west.
Turkmenistan’s 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.
At 488,100 km², Turkmenistan is slightly smaller than Spain and somewhat larger than the US state of California. Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression and the Karakum Desert. The Kopet Dag Range, along the southwestern border, reaches 2,912 m at Kuh-e Rizeh (Mount Rizeh). The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea is 1,768 km long.
The major cities include Aşgabat, Türkmenbaşy (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Daşoguz.
The Economy of Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is the second-largest cotton and natural gas producer in the region after Russia. Therefore, Turkmenistan has less dependence on the global energy market price changes because the natural gas prices were not as volatile as oil prices. In the past Turkmenistan has been almost entirely dependent on Russian pipelines to export its natural gas.
This situation is now changing with the opening at the end of 2009 of the Turkmenistan-China pipeline which transports gas from eastern Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China’s north-western Xinjiang region, thus allowing Turkmenistan to fulfil a 2006 agreement with China to supply that country with 30 bln m³/year of gas over next 30 years.