Turkmenistan has a continental climate with long hot summers. Winters are not too cold. The average temperature is 26 to 34 degrees centigrade in summer and minus 4 to plus 4 degrees centigrade in winter.But in northern regions the temperature in winter months can decrease to -20 degrees centigrade.


The people of Turkmenistan are predominantly Turkmen, also spelled Turkoman, in both ethnicity and language. Turkmenistan traditionally was home to sizable Russian and German populations, but they largely emigrated to their mother countries 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.

The main tribes of the Turkmen are the Tekke around the oases of Ahal, Tejen and Merv, the Ersari along the Amu Darya, the Yomud in the Balkan Region and Khorzem Oasis and the Goklen in the Southwest.


Turkmenistan is largely covered by desert, with intensive agriculture located in irrigated oases. One-half of its irrigated land is planted with cotton, making it the world's tenth largest producer.

About 80 percent of Turkmenistan's surface are covered by the biggest desert in Central Asia, the Karakum Black Sand, which forms together with the Kyzylkum Red Sand in Uzbekistan the fourth biggest desert in the world. The Karakum covers about 350.000 square kilometers.

The Kopet Dagi Mountains Many Mountains in Southern Turkmenistan form the border to Iran. In the Kugitang Mountains in North East Turkmenistan is the highest mountain of the country, the Airbaba 3.117 meters. The lowest point of the country is the Akdzhak depression, 80 meters below sea level.

The country measures about 1.100 kilometers from West to East and about 650 kilometers from North to South.


Jan 1: New Year

Jan 12: Remembrance Day Battle of Geok Depe

Feb 19: National Flag Day Birthday of Saparmurat Niyazov

Mar 8: Women's Day

March 21-22: Nowruz Navrouz: Spring festival

First Sun in April: Drop of Water is a Grain of Gold Day

Apr 27: Ahalteke Horse Day

May 9: Victory Day

May 18: Day of Revival and Unity

May 19: Holiday of Poetry of Magtymguly

Last Sun in May: Turkmenhaly bairamy - Carpet Day

Second Sun in August: Melon Festival

Oct 6: Remembrance Day to remember the earthquake of 1948

Oct 27 and 28: Independence Day

First Sat in Nov: Health Day

Nov 17: Student Youth Day

Last Sun in Nov: Harvest Festival

Nov 30: Bread Day

First Sun in Dec: Good Neighbourliness Day

Dec 12: Neutrality Day


North Korea may get all the press, but even Kim Il-sung'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. 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 Berdimuhamedov has slowly peeled back the worst excesses of the Turkmenbashi. The Ruhnama has lost its popularity, 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.