Quick Facts

  • Gained independence from the USSR on October 27, 1991
  • Location: Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
  • Area: 188,456 sq. miles, slightly larger than the state of California
  • Population: 5,231,422
  • Capital: Ashgabat (pop. 746,000)
  • Climate: subtropical desert
  • Terrain: flat to rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran, borders Caspian Sea in west
  • Nationality: Turkman
  • Major ethnic group: Turkman
  • Official language: Turkman
  • Major religion: Islam
  • Literacy: 99.7%
  • Economy: a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and sizeable gas and oil resources. Two largest crops are cotton, mostly produced for export and wheat which is domestically consumed. The country suffers from endemic corruption, a poor educational system, government misuse of oil and gas revenues, and the country’s reluctance to adopt market-oriented reforms.
  • Widely criticized for human rights abuses and has imposed severe restrictions on foreign travel for its citizens.
  • Current weather conditions: www.weather.com
  • Tips for travel in country: www.travel.state.gov
  • Currency exchange rates: www.xe.com

Government in Power

  • Turkmenistan defines itself as a secular democracy and a presidential republic; it actually displays presidential rule with power concentrated within the presidential administration.
  • Chief of state and head of government: President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (since 2007)

Healthcare Statistics

  • Life expectancy: 69.78 years
  • Health expenditures: 2% of GDP
  • Hospital bed density: 4 beds/1,000 population
  • HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (This is thought to be inaccurate because of the heroin use and prostitution.)
  • Many new medical clinics have been build across the country, but access to these facilities is often possible only with the payment of substantial bribes, even though treatment is supposed to be free.
  • Infectious disease updates: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

Images From the Field


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Field Stories

Flexibility, Adaptability, Patience and Enthusiasm   All of the above traits are very important on relief trips! I believe that each warrants a word when it comes to relief work. Flexibility – Be very flexible with your expectations. Despite a given itinerary, on some trips the plan changes as soon as you land. Timelines often fall apart […]

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