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Turkmenistan

465 bytes added, 17:07, 31 January 2013
Holidays
| flag=[[Image:tx-flag.png]]
| capital=[[Ashgabat]]
| government=RepublicPresidential republic (de facto single-party state, dictatorship)
| currency=Turkmen manat (TMT)
| area=488,100 km<sup>2</sup>
}}
'''Turkmenistan''' [http://www.tourism-sport.gov.tm/] is a country in [[Central Asia]] with a population of about 5 million, and an area around half a million km<sup>2</sup>, or almost the size of Spain. Neighboring countries are [[Iran]] and [[Afghanistan]] to the South, and [[Uzbekistan]] and [[Kazakhstan]] to the North. It has a coast on the Caspian Sea, but is otherwise landlocked. Nearly 80% of the country is considered part of the Karakum Desert.
Turkmenistan is one of just two Stalinist countries in existence (the other being North Korea) and the a very unusual regime. The government is in firm control of nearly everything, although, surprisingly, . Officially tourism is welcomed as long as you don't discuss politics or omnipresent police/military, but onerous Soviet-style visa requirements discourage all but the most determined visitors. The cult of personality the previous president created for himself is truly amazing and reminders of the Turkmenbashi's legacy are everywhere. It is unwise for visitors to discuss politics or the omnipresent police and military.
The traditional life of the Turkmen is that of nomadic shepherds, though some have been settled in towns for centuries. The country is known for its fine carpets (one is even featured in its flag) and horses. It is a fairly poor country, that has been isolated from the world. Other than that, Billions have been spent on modernization in [[Ashgabat]], [[Turkmenbashi]], and many other cities in post Soviet times. And also, the country has extensive oil and gas reserves being developed, with recently opened pipelines to [[China]], [[Iran]], and soon [[Azerbaijan]]. Turkmenistan is also the second wealthiest country in Central Asia.
==Understand==
[[North Korea]] may get all the press, but even Kim Jong-Il's cult of personality fades when compared to the surreal totalitarian state set up by Turkmenistan's former all-powerful President for Life '''Saparmurat Niyazov'''has had a surreal effect on Turkmenistan that will long outlive his presidency. He adopted the title '''Turkmenbashi''' ("Father of All Turkmen"), named the city of [[Turkmenbashi]] (formerly Krasnovodsk) after himself, and built a 15-meter tall golden statue that rotates to face the sun in the capital [[Ashgabat]]. The month of January was renamed ''Turkmenbashi'' after himself, while the month of April and the word "bread" became ''Gurbansoltan Eje'', the name of Niyazov's mother. Decrees emanating from Niyazov's palace have banned, among other things, lip synching, long hair, video games, and golden tooth caps. Through it all, Serdar Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great (his official title) remained modest: "I'm personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets - but it's what the people want", he said. Niyazov's government also spent billions in renovating the country, shut down libraries and hospitals, and even wrote the Ruhnama, a spiritual book to improve the Turkmen people.
Since Niyazov's abrupt if unlamented death in December 2006, his successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow Berdimuhamedov has slowly peeled back the worst excesses of the Turkmenbashi. The Ruhnama has lost it's its popularity, Berdimuhammedow Berdimuhamedov has continued in the process restoring pensions and old names, while cementing on his own slightly more subdued cult of personality.
One thing of CRITICAL importance to any visitors who smoke cigarettes or cigars! It is (and has been for several years) absolutely forbidden to smoke 'in a public place'. Generally, this means 'outside'. Smoking at any of the bazaars is a definite no-no, as there were two major bazaar fires in 2006-2007. While it bothers non-smokers, those who enjoy tobacco products can enjoy them INSIDE most restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs. A good rule of thumb - if you don't see anyone else smoking, you shouldn't.
===People===
The people of Turkmenistan are predominantly '''Turkmen''', also spelled Turkoman, in both ethnicity and language. Turkmenistan traditionally was home to sizable ethnic Russian and German populationspopulation, but they largely emigrated relocated to their mother countries the Russian Federation following the break up of the Soviet Union. According to the 1995 census 77 percent of the population are Turkmen, 9 percent Uzbek and 7 percent Russian.
According to the ''Ruhmana'', the Turkmens originated from ''Oguz Han'' and all Oguz people descend from Oguz Han's 24 grandsons. The original homeland of the Oguz tribes was the Ural-Altay region of Central Asia. The ''Orhun inscriptions'' (6th cent.) mentions the "six Oghuz tribal union", referring to the unification of the six Turkic tribes. This was the first written reference to Oghuz, dated to the period of the Göktürk Empire. The ''Book of Dede Korkut'', the historical epic of the Oghuz Turks, was written in the 9th and 10th cent. They migrated westwards in the area of the Aral Sea and the Syr Darya Basin in the 10th cent. A clan of the Oghuz, the ''Seljuks'' took over Islam, entered Persia in the 11th cent. and founded the Great Seljuk Empire. The name Oghuz is derived from the word 'ok', meaning 'arrow' or 'tribe' and an archer shooting an arrow was shown on the flag of the Seljuk Empire. The term Oghuz was gradually supplanted by the Turks themselves by ''Türkmen'' or ''Turcoman''. This process was completed in the 13th cent.
===Holidays===
* Jan January 1: New Year* Jan January 12: Remembrance Day (Battle of Geok Depe)* Feb February 19: National Flag Day (Birthday of the Saparmurat Niyazov)* Mar March 8: Women's Day* March 21-22: Nowruz (Navrouz: Spring festival)* First Sun Sunday in April: Drop of Water is a Grain of Gold Day* Apr 27Last Sunday in April: Ahalteke Horse Day* May 9: Victory Day* May 18: Day of Revival and Unity* May 19: Holiday of Poetry of Magtymguly* Last Sun Sunday in May: Turkmenhaly bairamy - Carpet Day* Second Sun Sunday in August: Melon Festival* Oct October 6: Remembrance Day (to remember the earthquake of 1948)* Oct October 27 and 28: Independence Day* First Sat Saturday in NovNovember: Health Day* Nov November 17: Student Youth Day* Last Sun Sunday in NovNovember: Harvest Festival* Nov November 30: Bread Day* First Sun Sunday in DecDecember: Good Neighbourliness Day* Dec December 12: Neutrality Day
===Climate===
Turkmenistan has a continental climate with long hot summers. Winters are not too cold. The average temperature is 26 to 34 degrees centigrade celsius in summer and minus 4 to plus 4 degrees centigrade celsius in winter.But in northern regions the temperature in winter months can decrease to -20 degrees centigradecelsius.
== Regions ==
===Visa===
It is strongly recommended that you apply for a Turkmenistan visa before travelling to Turkmenistan. It is reported that travellers applying for visa at Ashgabat airport have been detained in the transit area of the airport for several days due to missing documents. An government apporved letter of invitation is required of some tourists such as residents of the United States of America before a visa can be issued. It is advised to check with your country's Turkmenistan embassy website for more information.
===Registration===
All foreigners entering Turkmenistan have to pay a '''registration fee''' of US$ 12,- (20102012) and will receive a green entry and departure card. Take particular care of the '''departure card''', as it must be presented when leaving the country.
Travelers staying for more than 3 days in Turkmenistan must '''register''' with IVOR in [[Ashgabat]], Asady köcesi, phone 391337 or with IVOR branch offices in other towns. You are responsible for registration, even when staying in a hotel. The hotel will give you a confirmation of the accommodation only. This confirmation and the receipt for the registration fee paid when entering the country have to be presented to IVOR. One photo is Two photos are required. Registration will be stamped into your passport. You have to give notice to the IVOR in order to be permitted to leave the country. This notice will be stamped into the passport as well. Border controls will check if you have registration and notice to leave stamped into your passport.
===Travel permits===
===By plane===
As of October 2011, ''Turkmenistan Airlines'' has direct flights to [[Ashgabat]] from [[Abu Dhabi]], [[Almaty]], [[Amritsar]], [[Bangkok]], [[Beijing]], [[Birmingham]], [[Delhi]], [[Dubai]], [[Frankfurt]], [[Istanbul]], [[Kiev]], [[London]] and , [[Minsk]], [[Birmingham (England)|BirminghamMoscow]], used predominantly by the British Sikh community as a transit point for further flight to India and Pakistan[[Saint Petersburg]]. Look out for the portrait of Sapamurat 'Turkmenbashi' Niyazov at the front of the cabin. ''Turkish Airlines'' flies to Ashgabat from [[Istanbul]]. ''Lufthansa'' flies from [[Frankfurt]] to Ashgabat. See [[Ashgabat]] page The schedules are often less-than-convenient, and there unfortunately is no website for more detailed informationsthe airlines with flights listed. FlyDubai offers service from Dubai', UAE It's DXB usually best to visit the webpage of the airport from which you are departing to Ashgabatfind the schedule.
As of October 2011, ''Turkmenistan Turkish Airlines'' schedule includes the following destinations: flies to Ashgabat from [[Abu-DhabiIstanbul]], [[Almaty]], [[Amritsar]], [[Bangkok]], [[Beijing]], [[Birmingham]], [[Delhi]], [[Dubai]], . ''Lufthansa'' flies from [[Frankfurt]], to Ashgabat. See [[Istanbul]], [[Kiev]], [[London]], [[Minsk]], [[Moscow]], and [[Sankt-PetersburgAshgabat]]page for more detailed information. The schedules are often less-than-convenientFlyDubai offers service from Dubai', and there unfortunately is no website for the airlines with flights listed. ItUAE's usually best to visit the webpage of the DXB airport from which you are departing to find the scheduleAshgabat.
===By train===
====From Uzbekistan====
Each crossing may require 15 minutes' walk across no-mans land, sometimes sharded shared taxis are available. There are three crossings from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan:
* '''Farab''' from [[Bukhara]]: Take a taxi from [[Bukhara]] to the border (US$ 8) or a shared taxi to Uzbek Olot (Qarakul) and then a taxi to the border. From the border it is about 45 km to [[Turkmenabat]]. A taxi should cost about US$ 5 and a seat in a shared taxi less than US$ 1.
* '''Dashgous''' from [[Khiva]] or [[Ugench]]: Take a taxi from [[Khiva]] or [[Urgench ]]to the border for about US$ 10 and another one on the Turkmenistan side from the border to [[Dashgous]] for about US$ 1.
====From Kazakhstan====
It is a two hours' drive from Zhanaozen to the Turkmenistan border and another 40 minutes drive from the border on a dirt road to the city of Karabogas (formerly Bekdash) The last 50km on each side of the border is a very bad dirt road. (approx. US$ 50 100 private car or 10,000 KZT per carperson shared). From Karabogas there is a good road to [[Turkmenbashi]] with fine views on the [[Caspian Sea]]. About 60 km south of Karabogas the road crosses a bridge over the channel connecting the Caspian Sea with the inland gulf.
===By boat===
==Talk==
Around 70% of the people in Turkmenistan speak [[Turkmen phrasebook|Turkmen]], and 50% speak decent [[Russian phrasebook|Russian]]. If you are unable to speak Turkmen, then Russian would be your best bet to communicate. Not everyone has the time, resources, or money to learn Turkmen. However, out of respect, and due to the fact only 50% of the people speak Russian, learning basic Turkmen would be advisable. [[Turkmen phrasebook|Turkmen]] was written in a Cyrillic alphabet during Soviet times and is now written in a Latin alphabet. Uzbek is widely understood in Turkmenistan, due to both languages sharing common Turkic traitsorigins. Kazakh is also understood in the north of the country (because of Turkic traits), yet very, very few Turkmen will understand Kazakh. Standard Turkish might be understood by some people.
Not many Turkmens will have a basic understanding of English, even in the capital city.
==Buy==
The official currency in Turkmenistan is '''Manat (TMM)''' = 100 Tenge, the rate of exchange being 1 US$ = 2,85 TMM, 1 EUR = 3,99 58 TMM , 1 UK£ = 4.53 (20092012).
The '''US Dollar''' is widely accepted, although it should only be accepted in internationals hotels or at the airport.
Turkmenistan is safe and friendly country as long as a visitor does not discuss politics. Politics remain a very sensitive issue, and it is your responsibility that you do not involve yourself in or speak out against the government, since it is considered a crime. For safety and respect, Do not '''under any circumstances''' criticize the President, the country or its people. Things have eased a bit since Turkmenbashi's death, but the country remains a tightly-controlled police state. The Ruhnama, a book written for the Turkmen people by Suparmurat Niyazov is still sold, and still learned in Turkmen schools. As such, it is best regarded to not criticize the former President as well.
Turkmenistan, like any other Central Asian country, is a fairly corrupt country. Corrupt officials and authorities may ask for bribes, and so if you are pulled over for any reason, simply pay the bribe. It is also possible that you will be asked by police for documents. This is rather rare, but this can happen at any time and they have a legal right to do so. You should carry your passport and visa with you, though in practice, it is better to make a color scan of the first two pages of your passport and your visa before you arrive. Carry the colour copies with you when you're walking around, and keep the original documents in the hotel safe. Also, upon arrival make a copy of your visa page. The scanned documents will almost always suffice. If not, make it clear to the Police that he will have to come to your hotel to see the originals. Nevertheless, Policemen will demand a bribe for this. Always be polite with the Police, but also be firm. Although rare, Policemen police can take visitors/locals to secluded places to beat up people for even more money, so stay alert. Policemen Police are the most frequent problem you will always come up across and be warned that the Policemen they are generally very agressiveaggressive, especially during the Nightnight, expect some harassment from them. Many hotels, including very good ones, are frequently bugged by the Policepolice. Do not sign any documents provided by the police if it is in a language you do not know, as it may be that they may try to rip you off for some more money. Just be polite with them, and just say that you do not understand it.
A curfew prevents people from leaving from 11pm, and this law abides applies to non-residents as well. Going out will get you arrested. However, taking Taking taxis or hiring private drivers should may avoid the problems, but don't be too dependent on this option, as it is possible it may not save your life.
It is possible to take ''photographs'' relatively freely in Turkmenistan. However, you are best advised to exercise caution when photographing anyone in uniform or government buildings. In [[Ashgabat]], there are uniformed police/military on every street corner. Play it safe early on in your visit to give yourself an idea of what is acceptable. There are almost no 'no photo signs'. If you are in doubt ask the next policeman if you are allowed to take a picture.
Most taxis are not regulated by any government licensing agency and drivers are usually private citizens looking to make money. The majority of cars will not have seat belts or other safety devices, and drivers may not have had any formal driver training. For safety reasons, visitors should strongly consider hiring a private car and driver through their travel agency or hotel.
Penalties for breaking the law can be severe. And do remember, Homosexuality homosexuality is punishable by 2 years. Homosexual activities, prostitution and intercourse with prostitutes are prohbitedprohibited.
==Stay healthy==
Vaccinations against diphteriadiphtheria, tetanusmtetanus, polio, hepatitis A and B are recommended, and a . A vaccination against typhus is also recommended in case you stay under very simple in poor hygienic condition conditions, and a vaccination against rabies is recommended for long term stays and frequent contact with animals.
Medical supply does not correspond to American or European standards. Bring the medicines you need for your personal use with you, as they will be unavailable outside of Ashgabat. A travel insurance covering hospital care and an emergency flight to your home country is strictly recommended.
'''Avoid drinking trink tap water.''' Tap Water in Turkmenistan is known to contain traces of metaltoxic metals, and this can cause long-term health problems.
Fruits and vegetables should be peeled before consumption. Avoid dairy products as they are not pasteurized.
==Further Reading==
* ''[http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Heart-Asia-P-S/dp/0061577677 Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia, Penguin, 1994]''* ''[http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Life-Turkmenbashys-Golden-Methodologically/dp/1453855165 Daily Life in Turkmenbashy's Golden Age by Sam Tranum]''* ''[http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Azat-Jesse-Lonergan/dp/1561635707 Joe & Azat by Jesse Lonergan]''
{{isPartOf|Central_Asia}}
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