Turkmenistan is one of just two Stalinist countries in existence (the other being North Korea) and the government is in firm control of nearly everything, although, surprisingly, tourism is welcomed as long as you don't discuss politics or omnipresent police/military. The cult of personality the previous president created for himself is truly bizarre, and reminders of the Turkmenbashi's legacy are everywhere. It's almost like a Marx Brothers routine with the most absurd dictator you can imagine with a touch of Team America's interpretation of Kim Jong Il, keeping progress for human beings locked away in a box, never to be seen till sanity prevails. The guy even had a giant rotating statue of gold made of himself put on top of a spire so that it could be facing the sun no matter what time of day. People think up the wackiest things...

The traditional life of the Turkmen is that of nomadic shepherds, though some have been settled in towns for centuries. The country is known for its fine carpets (one is even featured in its flag) and horses. It is a fairly poor country even though billions have been spent on construction in Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi in post Soviet times. The country has extensive oil and gas reserves being developed, with recently opened pipelines to China, Iran, and soon Azerbaijan.

Top Destinations in Turkmenistan

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