Located in the south-west of Central Asia, Turkmenistan is the most arid and least known and most populated of the Central Asian nations in 1991 arose from the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Caspian Sea bordered to the north by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan , while to the south and east towering over 3,000 m high mountains separating it from Iran and Afghanistan. The population, very homogeneous in terms of being composed almost entirely of ethnic Turkmen, does not reach 5 million, but at least 2 million are living as migrants in Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey , the density, around 10, is among the lowest the continent. The Turkmen language, derived from Turkish, from 1991 is written with the Latin alphabet, the predominant religion is Sunni Muslim, with influences of Sufism and ancient animistic beliefs, loosely applied and tolerant, so that you can drink beer and vodka, legacy of the recent Russian presence. The climate is continental, with marked seasonal temperature changes, hot summers and cold winters, very little rainfall and long dry periods.
From the geographical point of view this is a huge arid plain, occupied by 2/3 from the middle of the Karakum desert, the black sands, where life and a minimum of agriculture (especially cotton, tenth producer in the world) are concentrated in ‘extreme north, along the valley of the Amur Darya River, and south at the foot of the mountains. An impulse to the cultivation came to the South in the last half century by the construction of a canal, 1,370 km-long (the biggest in the world), which drains water Amur Darya and yet create many tensions with the neighboring northern and a major cause of the disappearance of the Aral Sea, one of the greatest ecological disasters of the continent. The Karakum, a large one and a half in Italy, is the hottest desert in Central Asia, with little vegetation and few oases, dunes and presents barcane driven by the winds, salt flats and badland areas of clay eroded into shapes very impressive and psychedelic colors. In distant geological epochs in its place because it extended the largest lake rainforest on the planet, almost 4 times larger Italy and including the current Caspian and Aral.
Despite similar conditions of aridity, for it’s location Turkmenistan has always been an important transit hub for people and goods between north and south Africa and between Asia and the Mediterranean, hosting major urban settlements, civilizations and flourishing caravan nodes along the Road Silk Road, the main commercial artery of the past. No coincidence that the archaeological site of Anan has returned some of the oldest evidence of the cultivation of cereals. Even leaving aside the 2,500 dinosaur footprints 155 million years old, in the nature reserve Kugitang, its history starts from very far away indeed, when around the V-VII millennium appear nomadic tribes of Turkmen horse breeders, the same beautiful animals by shades of gold precursors of modern thoroughbreds still worshiped in the country. Then came the turn of the Achaemenid Persians, defeated by Alexander the Great, the kingdom particular, fierce enemy of Rome, Sassanian Persians, who introduced Hephthalites of Nestorian Christianity, Arabs and Seljuk Turks, the Mongols of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane , Uzbeks, and finally the khanates of Russia Tsarist and then Soviet Union. In 1991 came the Niyazow independence but, in power since 1985 as secretary of the Communist Party, with skillful movements becomes Turkmenbashi, Father of the Turkmen, concentrating all the powers and many possessions in a brutal dictatorship which is only to lead the worship the personality of the all-time leader, at the expense of a poor and hospitable, remained nomadic in spirit.
Although dry, this vast country with significant roots in history has much to offer rare and intrepid visitors. The capital Ashgabat in the foothills of the southern mountains, was founded in 1881 by the Russians and destroyed by the earthquake in 1948 and today the museum exhibits a shameless self-celebration of the scheme, all buildings and monuments of marble, gilded statues, bubbling fountains and glittering domes; worth visit the museum of the carpet, with the most exemplary in the world, and the bazaar where you can meet people in traditional dress: men in gowns of red and yellow stripes, embroidered scarves and sheepskin hats, women in colorful head scarves and long dresses to the foot.
The Caspian Sea, rich in oil, gas and phosphate, as well as sturgeon and caviar, do not miss the Yangykata Gorge, a canyon 25 km long from psychedelic multicolored walls. Konye Urgench, a UNESCO site in the north, was an important oasis of civilization and a major shopping center in medieval times as the capital of Corasmia, conquered by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane then destroyed when it was the most western khanates of the Mongol, there are the remains of a large number of mosques, minarets, madresse, libraries and bazaars. The large crater in the Karakum natural gas Darwaza burns and illuminates the ghostly desert nights. Gonur Depe was a major agricultural center already 9,000 years ago and in the Bronze Age gave birth to a flourishing civilization in which it was fashionable to drink intoxicating basis of poppy seeds, hemp and ephedrine, was home to the birthplace of Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic religion.
Merv, another UNESCO site in the east, was a city founded by the Achaemenid Persians in the sixth century. BC and refounded by Alexander the Great in ‘XI became the capital of the Seljuk Turks, and be ultimately destroyed by Genghis Khan who killed 300 thousand inhabitants. At the time of the peak, when inspired by the tales of Thousand and One Nights, was a major center of Islam, a melting pot of religions and ethnicities, verdant oasis with palaces, mosques and caravanserais enclosed by walls, destroyed several times, was always reconstructed but not on the side, so that today has as many as 5 different eras of urban centers. Finally in Ashgabat the remains of Nyssa, already in the third century. BC capital of the powerful Parthian kingdom extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus, enclosed by fortified walls with 43 towers, and as usual it is destroyed by the Mongols.
Originally posted 2012-07-07 14:18:44.