Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population of the country is 5.6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics and one of the most sparsely populated in Asia.
Turkmenistan possesses the world's sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources. Most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert. From 1993 to 2017, citizens received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge.
Turkmenistan is divided into five provinces or welayatlar and one capital city district. The provinces are subdivided into districts, which may be either counties or cities.
The population of Turkmenistan is 5.6 million (2016).
There are three World Heritage Sites in Turkmenistan.
Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient city, located near modern-day Bagir village, 18 km southwest of Ashgabat. Nisa is described by some as one of the first capitals of the Parthians. It is traditionally assumed to be founded by Arsaces I (reigned c. 250 BC–211 BC), and was reputedly the royal necropolis of the Parthian kings, although it has not been established that the fortress at Nisa was either a royal residence or a mausoleum.
Merv formerly Achaemenid Satrapy of Margiana, and later Alexandria and Antiochia in Margiana, was a major oasis-city in Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road, located near today's Mary. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. It is claimed that Merv was briefly the largest city in the world in the 12th century.
Konye-Urgench is a municipality of about 30,000 inhabitants in north-eastern Turkmenistan, just south from its border with Uzbekistan. It is the site of the ancient town of Ürgenç, which contains the unexcavated ruins of the 12th-century capital of Khwarezm. Since 2005, the ruins of Old Urgench have been protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Karakum Desert is one of the driest deserts in the world; some places have an average annual precipitation of only 12 mm (0.47 in). The highest temperature recorded in Ashgabat is 48.0°C (118.4°F) and Kerki, an extreme inland city located on the banks of the Amu Darya river, recorded 51.7°C (125.1°F) in July 1983, although this value is unofficial. 50.1°C (122°F) is the highest temperature recorded at Repetek Reserve, recognized as the highest temperature ever recorded in the whole former Soviet Union.
Location July (°C) July (°F) January (°C) January (°F) Ashgabat 38/24 100/75 9/0 Türkmenbaşy 35/22 95/72 8/0 46/32 Daşoguz 36/21 97/70 1/−8 34/18
Two thirds of the country is hot dry plains and desert, and the rest is more mountainous. Very little rain falls in summer and the chief precipitation occurs in the southern part of the country in the winter and spring. The Caspian coast has milder winters.
The desert sees limited plant growth in the winter, with grasses and xeric plants and shrubs sprouting, and with the arrival of spring, the rains encourage the growth and flowering of ephemeral plants. The mountains in the south of the country are covered in shrublike and juniper woodlands, and larger trees grow in the gullies and river valleys.
A wide range of animals are found in Turkmenistan, including 91 species of mammal, 82 species of reptile and nearly 400 species of bird. A number of nature reserves and sanctuaries have been created for the preservation of the natural landscapes and the conservation of the wildlife.
The tourism industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, especially medical tourism. This is primarily due to the creation of the Awaza tourist zone on the Caspian Sea. Every traveler must obtain a visa before entering Turkmenistan. To obtain a tourist visa, citizens of most countries need visa support from a local travel agency. For tourists visiting Turkmenistan, there are organized tours with a visit to historical sites Daşoguz, Konye-Urgench, Nisa, Merv, Mary, beach tours to Avaza and medical tours and holidays in Mollakara, Ýylysuw and Archman.
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