20 Fascinating Facts About Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan has set a Guinness World Record for having the largest indoor Ferris wheel in an architectural structure.

When people hear about Turkmenistan, they often ask what it is – a place, a city or whatnot.

This Central Asian country, located between Kazakhstan, Iran and a vast desert, has been ruled by a dictator for 15 years who has implemented some truly bizarre laws.

It’s a blend of Disneyland and North Korea, with incredible architecture but lack of freedoms. This country has a rich history of violence and serves as a meeting point between East and West.

Today, we will explore 20 facts about this lesser-known country.

On October 27, 1991, Turkmenistan declared independence from the Soviet Union.

From 1991 to 2006, Turkmenistan was ruled by a dictator and President for Life, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Turkmenistan holds the Guinness World Record for the largest indoor Ferris wheel in an architectural structure. The Ferris wheel stands at 156 feet (47.60 m) tall, while its surrounding structure is 187 feet (57 m).

The Darvaza Gas Craters, also known as the “Gates to Hell” by locals, is a 226 feet (60 m) wide and 98 feet (30 m) deep crater that has significant oil and natural gas deposits. Soviet engineers lit it on fire in 1971 to burn off the excess gas, estimating that it would take a few weeks to burn off. It still burns to this day!

The Ancient City of Merv in South-Eastern Turkmenistan has been destroyed several times. It was captured by the Mongols, who executed the entire population except for 400 artisans. Historians believe that over one million people were killed.

The Karakum Desert, also known as the “Black Sand” in the Turkic languages, covers 70% of Turkmenistan, or 135,135 square miles (350,000 km²). It’s also one of the driest deserts globally, with some areas recording only 0.005 inches (0.12mm) of precipitation annually.

July 1983 saw the hottest day ever recorded in Turkmenistan and the Soviet Union – at 122 F, it was noted at the Repetek Reserve.

Turkmenistan has the world’s sixth-largest oil and natural gas reserves.

In March 2014, 15,000 public health workers were laid off from their positions. A year later, all hospitals outside the capital were closed, and it was decided that everyone should come to the capital for treatment.

During his reign, the President for Life, Saparmurat Niyazov, implemented many laws. Here are a few examples:
In February 2004, men were banned from having long hair or beards.
In 2005, lip-syncing was banned at concerts.
Dogs were banned from the capital due to their “unappealing odor.”
Smoking was prohibited in all public places and for all government employees.

Turkmenistan is ranked as one of the most challenging countries to enter, with strict visa applications that require assistance from tour agencies and a guide. It’s often referred to as the North Korea of Central Asia.

Ashgabat holds the Guinness World Record for having the most public pools in a single place. It has 27 pools, most buildings are clad in marble, and the largest architectural star has a mind-blowing area of 34,875 square feet (3,240 sq. m).

Between 2002 and 2008, the days of the week and months of the year were renamed to Turkmen National Symbols.

In 2015, Turkmenistan launched its first satellite, but at the same time, all satellite dishes were banned in the country to prevent citizens from accessing international media. The Ruhnama, authored by Saparmurat Niyazov, was required to be displayed prominently in government buildings, shops, and even mosques, with failure to comply resulting in the destruction of the mosque. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow succeeded Niyazov as the country’s leader in February 2007, with “permanent neutrality” being a key element of Turkmenistan’s original constitution, which was recognized by the UN in 1995. Turkmenistan has no ties with NATO or the CSTO. The population of Turkmenistan is entitled to subsidized electricity, natural gas, water, and salt until 2030, including vehicles until 2014. The cult of personality surrounding Niyazov’s leadership was the basis for the film “The Dictator,” and according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan is among the most censored countries, ranked 178th out of 180, with only North Korea and Eritrea below it. Despite this, Turkmenistan is a fascinating country in Asia that deserves to be on everyone’s travel bucket list.


1. What is the population of Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan has a population of approximately 6 million people.

2. What is the official language of Turkmenistan?

The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen, a language of the Turkic language family.

3. What is the currency of Turkmenistan?

The currency of Turkmenistan is the Turkmen new manat (TMT).

4. What is the capital city of Turkmenistan?

The capital city of Turkmenistan is Ashgabat.

5. What is the largest city in Turkmenistan?

The largest city in Turkmenistan is Ashgabat.

6. What is the climate like in Turkmenistan?

Turkmenistan has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters.

7. What is the main religion in Turkmenistan?

The main religion in Turkmenistan is Islam.

8. What are the major industries in Turkmenistan?

The major industries in Turkmenistan include natural gas, oil, textiles, and agriculture.

9. What are some famous landmarks in Turkmenistan?

Some famous landmarks in Turkmenistan include the Ashgabat Arch of Neutrality, the Kow Ata Underground Lake, and the Door to Hell gas crater.

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