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 population (2010).
According to 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 horses.
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 markets.
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.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Turkmenistan is Ashgabat with a population of 828,000 (UN estimate 2019). Other major cities include Turkmenabat, Tasjaouz, Mary.