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| currency=Turkmen manat (TMT)
| area=488,100 km<sup>2</sup>
'''Turkmenistan''' 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.
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.
Since Niyazov's abrupt if unlamented death in December 2006, his successor Gurbanguly
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.
The people of Turkmenistan are predominantly '''Turkmen''', also spelled Turkoman, in both ethnicity and language. Turkmenistan traditionally was home to sizable 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.
Turkmenistan has a continental climate with long hot summers. Winters are not too cold. The average temperature is 26 to 34 degrees
== Regions ==
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.
All foreigners entering Turkmenistan have to pay a '''registration fee''' of US$ 12,- (
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.
''Turkmenistan Airlines'' has direct flights to [[Ashgabat]] from [[London]]
Each crossing may require 15 minutes' walk across no-mans land, sometimes
* '''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.
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) (approx. US$
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 many Turkmens will have a basic understanding of English, even in the capital city.
The official currency in Turkmenistan is '''Manat (TMM)''' = 100 Tenge, the rate of exchange being 1 US$ = 2,85 TMM, 1 EUR = 3,
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. 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,
A curfew prevents people from leaving from 11pm, and this law
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,
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.
Fruits and vegetables should be peeled before consumption. Avoid dairy products as they are not pasteurized.
Colin Thubron, The Lost Heart of Asia, Penguin, 1994