The Turkmen's traditional way of life was nomadic animal
husbandry. During the latter part of the 19th century and
the first part of the 20th century this was radically
changed. Intensive cultivation of cotton and petroleum
extraction took over as dominant industries. Despite the
fact that about 90% of the country's total area is filled
with desert, agriculture employs almost 50% of the working
COUNTRYAAH, Turkmenistan was also among the world's ten largest
cotton producers for a long time, but production declined in
the 1990s. Cultivation takes place with high consumption of
artificial irrigation and fertilizers. The ecological
consequences are great. A drastic expansion of the
artificial irrigation system has caused the water level in
the Aral Sea to drop significantly and that salt deserts are
spreading. Health injuries are registered in the population.
In the far east, along Amu-Darja, silkworms and cotton are
bred. Fruits and vegetables are also grown. Animal husbandry
is also important. breeding of karakulsau, camels and
Turkmenistan has large natural resources, especially of
oil and gas. Major discoveries have recently been discovered
in the Caspian Sea.
In counterbalance to the dependence of former Soviet
republics, a gas pipeline was built for Iran. Another gas
pipeline, opened in 2005, runs via Azerbaijan, Georgia and
Turkey to the Turkish port city of Ceyhan. This opened up
opportunities for extensive exports to the West. A project
that has long been considered is a gas pipeline via
Afghanistan to Pakistan, but this has been put on hold due
to the security situation.
The industry includes petroleum refining, and
petrochemical factories, manufacture of cotton, silk and
wool products, cement etc. Turkmenistan is also well known
for its production of beautiful rugs.
Berdymukhamedov wants to intensify industrialization with
a focus on chemicals and gas. A key element of his strategy
is to create greater variation in Turkmenistan's energy
The main export goods are gas, petroleum, cotton and
electrical power. The main import goods are food and
consumables, machinery and metal products.
Key trading partners are Ukraine, Iran, Russia, Turkey,
China, USA and Germany.
The Turkmen authorities want to attract more foreign
companies to the Caspian Sea's extraction, mainly because
of. the area's high development costs and risk. Foreign
investors, however, often face problems as countries around
the Caspian Sea have not agreed on the division of the area.
In addition, the investment climate is characterized by a
complicated currency exchange system, heavy bureaucracy and
strong government control.
Transport and Communications
The road and rail networks largely follow rivers and
canals, that is along the Amu-Darja, the Karakum Canal and
Murgab, and have a main direction from the southeast to the
northeast. The main connection across the desert is over the
city of Mery. Moreover, large parts of the country are
inaccessible. There are approx. 23 500 km of road, most of
which was paved. The Transcaspic Railway passes through the
land from Turkmen Bashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) on the
Caspian Sea, along the Karakum Canal, past Mary to Tsardshou
at Amu-Darja, and on into Uzbekistan. From Mary, a sideline
leads to Kushika at the Afghan border. A new railroad to
Mashad in Iran was ready in 1996. Amu-Darja is the most
important inland waterway. Turkmenbasi (formerly Krasnovodsk)
is the most important port city. International Airport at
Ashkhabad. The tourism industry is little developed.