2. Turkmenistan Today

Turkmenistan is a large, mainly rural country that is rapidly evolving into 21st-century existence by virtue of the realisation of its massive oil resources and its independence from the former USSR.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Map of Turkmenistan

Until his untimely death, it was allegedly democratically ruled by the enigmatic Turkmenbashy, who promised a Mercedes car for every household. However, he failed to deliver this promise and the money was spent in turning the capital, Ashgabat, into a thoroughly modern city with many buildings and monuments to glorify his name for posterity. In contrast, in the rural areas there is a lack of the most basic essentials such as water, sanitation and electricity, let alone educational and medical facilities. Lack of education allows a culture of ignorance and superstition to thrive. Lack of medical facilities results in high infant mortality, and increased risk to life and health of pregnant women, and increased risk of secondary infertility. The women are under considerable pressure to marry young, and they then live with the husband's family where there is even greater pressure for them to reproduce and to continue producing children. Barrenness is regarded as a serious failing on the woman's part. Although they are essentially a Moslem population, their religion is not as strictly observed as in some countries. They have to fall back on their own resources to aspire to better outcomes and they look to ancient traditions based in shamanism, totemism, cult of the ancestors and other ancient practices.


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Last updated: Wed Jul 29 2009