Country Listing

Turkmenistan Table of Contents


Historical Background

DURING MUCH OF ITS PAST, Turkmenistan has received little attention from the outside world. Apart from its role in establishing the Seljuk dynasty in the Middle East in the Middle Ages, for most of its history this territory was not a coherent nation but a geographically defined region of independent tribal groups and other political entities. Like other republics of the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has emerged on the world scene as a newly independent country in need of both national and international acceptance, security, and development.

Turkmenistan's authoritarian regime and regional social structure have produced the most politically and economically stable of the former Soviet republics. Although its leadership has gained a reputation abroad for repression of political opposition, it is perceived at home as promoting the social benefits, national traditions, and security of the Turkmen people. In addition, to ensure its national security and trade prospects, Turkmenistan has charted an independent course in establishing a military alliance with Russia and trade and security agreements with Iran and Central Asian countries. In terms of natural assets, Turkmenistan is a landlocked, desert country beneath whose surface lie substantial deposits of oil and the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world. Foreign investors, attracted by the republic's calm and receptive atmosphere, have sidestepped human rights issues on their way to establishing joint exploitation of Turkmenistan's rich energy resources.

Data as of March 1996