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Turkmenistan

 

Map Courtesy CIA World Factbook

Turkmenistan, once known as the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic is a country in Central Asia. It has borders with Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and has a coastline on the Caspian Sea. The territory of Turkmenistan has been populated since ancient times, as armies from one empire to another decamped on their way to more prosperous territories.

Alexander the Great conquered the territory in the 4th century B.C. on his way to India. One hundred fifty years later the Parthian Kingdom established its capital in Nisa, an area now located in the suburbs of the modern-day capital of Ashgabat. In the 7th century A.D. Arabs conquered this region, bringing with them the Islamic religion and incorporating the Turkmen into Middle Eastern culture. It was around this time that the famous Silk Road was established as a major trading route between Asia and Europe.

The Turkmenistan region soon came to be known as the capital of Greater Khorasan when the caliph Al-Ma'mun moved his capital to Merv.

 

In the middle of the 11th century, the powerful Turks of the Seldjuk Empire concentrated their strength in the territory of Turkmenistan in an attempt to expand into Afghanistan. The empire broke down in the second half of the 12th century, and the Turkmen lost their independence when Genghis Khan took control of the eastern Caspian Sea region on his march west. For the next seven centuries, the Turkmen people lived under various empires and fought constant intertribal wars.

Separated from Persia and annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, by 1894 imperial Russia had taken control of Turkmenistan. The October Revolution of 1917 in Russia and subsequent political unrest led to the declaration of the Turkmen Republic as one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union in 1924. At this time the modern borders of Turkmenistan were formed.

In 1991, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan achieved independence. It has kept its Communist leader, Saparmurat Niyazov in place.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Turkmenistan".