20 Fascinating Facts About Turkmenistan
1. Turkmenistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. Landlocked countries are completely surrounded by land and do not have access to the open sea. There are currently 45 landlocked countries in the world as well as five partially recognized nations.
2. Turkmenistan has been inhabited since at least the 5th millennium BC (5000-4001 BC).
3. The historic Silk Road, the ancient trading route that connected China with Europe and the Middle East, runs through Turkmenistan.
4. The UNESCO-listed State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” in Turkmenistan is the oldest and best-preserved of the oasis-cities along the Silk Route in Central Asia. The ancient city spans 4,000 years of human history.
6. Despite being landlocked, Turkmenistan is located on the Caspian Sea – the world’s largest inland body of water. At 386,400 sq km, it is larger than the area of Japan.
7. During the 6th century BC, Turkmenistan formed part of the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great.
8. And during the 4th century BC, along with much of Central Asia, Turkmenistan was conquered by Alexander the Great of Macedonia.
9. Turkmenistan is famous for its traditional carpets. Turkmen carpets are known for their “dense texture ornamented with characteristic colored patterns pertaining to one of the five main Turkmen tribes”. There is even an annual celebration of Carpet Day.
10. The Turkmenistan flag has a green background with a white crescent which are the symbol of the Islamic faith. The five stars represent the five senses and the five points on each star are for different states of matter (liquid, solid, gas, crystal, and plasma). There is also a claret stripe with five carpet motifs on the flag. The motifs represent five tribes and the traditional carpets Turkmenistan is famed for.
11. From 1881, Turkmenistan was ruled by Russia. In 1921 it became part of the USSR initially as the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) before becoming a fully-fledged constituent republic of the USSR in 1925.
12. In 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the Turkmen republic declared independence and adopted the name Turkmenistan.
13. Turkmenistan means “place of the Turkmen (people)”. The suffix “-stan” means “place of” or “country”.
14. Known as the “Door to Hell”, Darvaza is a fire pit in Turkmenistan that has been burning for over 40 years. Following a mining accident in 1971, the gas crater opened up and began venting gas killing local wildlife. Scientists believed that lighting the gas would cause it to burn out in a few weeks, but it continues to burn to this day.
15. In 2014, adventurer George Kourounis became the first person to enter the “Door to Hell” and reach the bottom of the pit.
16. In 1948, one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes struck Turkmenistan. 110,000 people died when a 7.3 magnitude earthquake rocked Ashgabat and the surrounding region.
17. Around 70% of Turkmenistan is made up of the Karakum Desert.
18. Turkmenistan has a number of unusual world records which include the highest density of white marble-clad buildings, the largest aquatics sports park, the largest indoor Ferris Wheel, the largest architectural star, and the most fountain pools in a public place.
19. There is a national holiday in Turkmenistan for melons. Celebrated on the second Sunday in August the day honors the country’s muskmelon, a close relative of the watermelon.
20. Turkmenistan has been described as one of the “world’s most repressive and closed countries, where the president and his associates have total control over all aspects of public life.”