Turkmenistan (Turkmenistan Turkmenistan, the name Turkmenia with which the Turkmen Soviet Republic was designated as outdated) is a landlocked country in Central Asia on the Caspian Sea. Neighboring countries are Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Turkmenistan has a population of 5.7 million.


Turkmenistan borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Caspian Sea. Almost 95% of the land area is taken up by the Karakum desert, which consists of both sand and rubble desert areas. To the west are the Turkmenbaşy plateau and the Great Balkans (1880 m). This falls southwards to the Karakum Canal (Turkmen Main Canal), on the other side of which the landscape merges into the Kopet-Dag Mountains, which are mostly in Iran, reach 2942 m in Turkmenistan in Mount Reza and 3191 m in Iran. While a few foothills of the Gissar Mountains rise towards the southeast to Afghanistan, the country’s highest mountain, the Aýrybaba (3139 m), is located on the eastern border with Uzbekistan.


There is a continental climate everywhere with extremely hot and dry summers and cold winters. As the southernmost region of the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has by far the highest temperatures in Central Asia, but since the humidity is low even in summer, the heat is more bearable. In the south, the climate is slightly less continental than in the north, and temperatures rarely drop below -5 ° C. The northern areas on the border with Uzbekistan can get cold to −20 ° C in winter. The pronounced continental climate in Turkmenistan shows high temperature differences between day and night and also from season to season.


The main part of the population is the Turkmen with around 77%; the largest minorities are Uzbeks (9%), Russians (7%), Kazakhs (2%), Tatars (1.1%), Azerbaijani (0.8%), Baluchi (0.8%), Armenians (0, 8%), Ukrainians (0.5%), as well as Koreans and Tajiks. [5] Since the end of the Soviet era, the proportion of Russians in the total population has been declining, while that of the Turkmen has increased. In the period from 2010 to 2015, life expectancy at birth for the total population was 67.3 years (women: 70.8 years / men: 63.9 years). The median age of the population was 27.5 years, the fertility rate was 3 children per woman.


Around 90% of the population are Muslims (Sunnis of the Hanafi law school and Shiites with around 120,000 followers). 9% belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. [9] The following communities are represented as other important religious minorities: Jewish religion, Roman Catholic Church, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, New Apostolic Church and Baha’i. The Jewish religion is not recognized in Turkmenistan. However, the practice of religion is tolerated. [10] However, there are no synagogues. Around 1,000 Jews live in Turkmenistan. Most of them had settled here during the Second World War. They were refugees from Ukraine. Another group are the long-established Bukhara Jews. Many Turkmen Jews emigrated to Germany or Israel in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.



The capital of Turkmenistan is flanked by the Kopetdag Mountains in the south and the Karakum Desert in the north. Ashgabat is not only a central transportation hub for travel to the different regions of the country, as well as an entry point in Iran, apart from the fact that it is certainly worth visiting in itself: the white marble city, which is also known as the “City of Love” “is known, with a variety of dining and accommodation facilities, the national and international airport and the main train station, but also with the beautiful museums, numerous parks and fountains, national monuments, the national racecourse and various private stables and courtyards, in addition to the largest Mosque in Central Asia, the largest weekend bazaar in Central Asia and of course a parther town “Nissa”, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ashgabat is also the starting point for day tours in the surrounding mountains. Visiting downtown at night gives the modern skyscrapers a spectacular look.

Ahal region

Ashgabat is located in the Ahal region, as well as the Kopetdag mountains and the southern parts of the Karakum desert. Traveling west takes you to the mountain villages, the area of ​​underground lakes and lunar landscapes, where the off-road vehicle journeys are the type of long-distance transport with accommodation in the camp, which is of particular interest for all-day hikes and bird watching. Traveling east will take you to the region of medieval Silk Road times, as well as to the places that date back to the Bronze Age, where archaeological excavations are still active. Serachs offers another entry point in Iran. Traveling north takes you straight to the Karakum desert, which makes excellent terrain for jeep safaris and horse riding hikes. Tejen River and Karakum Canal cross the region and have provided the necessary irrigation for local agriculture: e.g. while driving along the Koptedag foothills you will see the fields of grain and cotton, vineyards, fruit and vegetable plantations, and processing plants.

Balkans region

The Kopetdag mountains end in the west and flow into the lowlands, where the medieval caravans crossed on their way from Choresm towns in the north to the Persian earths in the south. Balkan region also offers another entry point in Iran far to the south, whereas access to Kazakhstan is in the north of the region. At the end of the region, the lowlands reach the Caspian Sea, where the port connection from Turkmenbashi city with the possible connection to Baku, Azerbaijan is located. Awaza, the coastal area, near Turkmenbashi, is the largest national tourist attraction in Turkmenistan, offering dozen of the spas to take care of local and foreign travelers looking for relaxation and fresh air. Balkanabad, the capital of the region, is located inland, and is also often used as a hub for trips to the spectacular volcanic landscapes and prehistoric coastline formations, which are also scattered with local pilgrimage sites and are used around the graves by prominent local figures. To fully appreciate this region, most travelers opt for jeep tours and / or accommodation in the form of a camp.

Dashoguz region

The northernmost region of Turkmenistan with its fertile river oases has been populated since ancient times. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kunya Urgench is the most famous capital of the Choresm Empire from many different historical sites in the region. Even today, the region remains the “gateway” to neighboring Uzbekistan, with two entry points: directly to Nukus from today’s Kunya Urgench city, and from the regional capital Dashoguz to Chiva. Agricultural production is vital to the region, so most of the rice for Turkmenistan will come from this region. If you travel south of the region, you will encounter a vast area of ​​lowlands, gorges, salt flats and lakes, as well as the remains of the dry river bed of the old Uzboy River, and the ubiquitous Karakum Desert. However, if you drive east, where the famous Amu Darya River leaves Turkmenistan, old caravan routes follow, which lead to Amul (today’s Turkmenabad) or Merv (today’s Mary).

Lebap Region 

Adjacent to the Dashoguz region to the east, Lebap is home to the Amu Darya River region and there is the starting point of the 1,500 kilometer Karakum Canal that crosses the country. Travel east along the Amu Darya River and see the fields of grain and cotton, as well as rice and fruit, which shape the landscape as far as the foothills of the Kugitang Mountains on the eastern tip of the country, where a long Turkmen-Uzbek border touches Afghanistan. Several ruins of the medieval monuments remind us of the great importance of this route for commercial caravans in the region. Today, Turkmenabad is the capital of the region, which is located on the two banks of the Amu Darya River, remains a crucial transportation hub and offers an entry point in Uzbekistan that leads directly to Bukhara. Despite the long drive to the Kugitang Mountains, travelers can explore the beautiful area out of interest e.g. to visit the geology, bird watching, hiking and of course the famous dinosaur plateau.

Mary Region

The southernmost region of Mary, with its fertile Murgab riverine oases, has attracted people since ancient times. Its capital Mary is the place from which the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Merw can be visited, but also the excavation sites of the Margush civilization from Bronze Age times, of which the Gonur Depe archeological remains form the center. While Merw was at its largest at the time it functioned as regional capital of the Seljuk Empire, caravan traders have used the oases as stepping stone long before and long since. For caravans, Merw formed a cross roads on several routes, linking Khorezm, Bukhara and Samarkand to its north, to Bactria and Herat to its south when following the Murgab River to its origin. Even today, Mary Region has an entry point into Afghanistan. While the southern border areas are rarely visited and part of a protected national park, Mary and its many historical sites, see an ever-growing flow of visitors who want to experience the ancient Silk Road atmosphere. Mary is a pleasant town in its own right, with a bustling green-domed bazaar, and host to the famous Mary History and Ethnography Museum.