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History[edit | edit source]
Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. In medieval times, Merv was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road, a caravan route used for trade with China until the mid-15th century. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1925, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic and it became independent upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Turkmenistan possesses the world's sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources. Most of the country is covered by the Black Sand Desert. From 1993 to 2017, citizens received government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge.
The sovereign state of Turkmenistan was ruled by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov until his death in 2006. According to Human Rights Watch, Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1881 - The last significant resistance in Turkmen territory was crushed at the Battle of Geok Tepe, and shortly thereafter Turkmenistan was annexed, together with adjoining Uzbek territory, into the Russian Empire
1924 - The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was formed from the tsarist province of Transcaspia
1930's, Soviet reorganization of agriculture had destroyed what remained of the nomadic lifestyle in Turkmenistan, and Moscow controlled political life
1991 - The fragmentation of the Soviet Union forced a call for a national referendum that approved independence