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Present-day Turkmenistan covers territory that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. The area was ruled in antiquity by various Persian empires, and was conquered by Alexander the Great, Muslim armies, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. In medieval times, Merv (located in present-day Mary province) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia in the late 1800s, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic; it achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited, have begun to transform the country. The Government of Turkmenistan is moving to expand its extraction and delivery projects and has attempted to diversify its gas export routes beyond Russia's pipeline network. In 2010, new gas export pipelines that carry Turkmen gas to China and to northern Iran began operating, effectively ending the Russian monopoly on Turkmen gas exports. In 2016, Russia and Iran halted their purchase of gas from Turkmenistan making China the only buyer of Turkmen gas. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a deputy cabinet chairman under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president. He was reelected in 2012 and again in 2017 with over 97% of the vote in both instances, in elections widely regarded as undemocratic.


Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan

Natural Resources

petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt

Population - distribution

the most densely populated areas are the southern, eastern, and northeastern oases; approximately 50% of the population lives in and around the capital of Ashgabat

Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
ASHGABAT (capital) 746,000 (2015)
Conventional long form
Conventional short form
Local long form
Local short form
presidential republic; authoritarian
Geographic coordinates
37 57 N, 58 23 E
Time difference
UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Although agriculture accounts for roughly 9% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce. Hydrocarbon exports (mainly natural gas) make up 25% of Turkmenistan’s GDP, the bulk of which is natural gas going to China. Ashgabat has explored two initiatives to bring gas to new markets: a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Both face major financing and security hurdles and are unlikely to be completed soon.
External debt stocks
US$ 402,877,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -580,180,000
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 15,610,514,807
Exports of goods and services
US$ 25,760,632,140
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 4,258,767,000
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 268,640,000
cotton, grain, melons; livestock
natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
China 68.7%, Turkey 4.9% (2015)
machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
Turkey 25.1%, Russia 12.3%, China 11%, UAE 9.1%, Kazakhstan 5.2%, Germany 4.6%, Iran 4.5% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is very difficult. Corporate financial information is rarely available and when available usually unreliable. The legal system makes debt collection very unpredictable. The institutional framework has very serious weaknesses. Intercompany transactions can thus be very difficult to manage in the highly risky environments rated D.
  • Fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world
  • Substantial foreign exchange reserves
  • Low debt levels
  • Small, isolated economy
  • Economy highly dependent on the hydrocarbon sector (chiefly gas) and on China, which accounts for almost all its export market
  • State interventionism and governance shortcomings

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