General

Geography
Turkmenistan emerged as an independent state in 1991.

The national capital is Ashgabat. There are five administrative subdivisions, called velayat, or region, each with its own regional capital:
  • Ahal Velayat (Anau)
  • Balkan Velayat (Balkanabad)
  • Mary Velayat (Mary)
  • Dashoguz Velayat (Dashoguz)
  • Lebap Velayat (Turkmenabad)
Turkmenistan borders Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the north and east, and Afghanistan and Iran in the south. The country is big: Turkmenistan covers an area of 492,000 square km. It stretches for 1100 km from west to east- from the Caspian Sea to the Amu Darya River, and for 650 km from the Uzbek border in the north to the Iranian border in the south.

The major part of the country is occupied by the Karakum desert (350.000 sq km). 20 per cent of its territory is mountainous and 1 per cent is made up of riverine oases. The Kopetdag range is in the south of Turkmenistan, while the Balkan Mountains are in the west and the Kugitang (or Koytendag) Range is in the east.

Turkmenistan is rich in mineral resources. It possesses the world’s fourth- largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. Turkmenistan is also a major cotton producer, and has a growing textile industry.

Safety
Travel in Turkmenistan is entirely safe.

Turkmens adhere to a moderate form of Islam, and are respectful to people of other religions. Local traditions and customs continue to play an important role in the lives of the people. Many Turkmen women wear a large variety of colorful headscarves of their own choice and long colorful, embroidered dresses. Western dress is equally widely accepted.

Tourists intending to travel to Turkmenistan using their own means of transport (vehicle or motor bicycle) are recommended to contact our company directly for details about the related customs procedures, and about the specifics of road rules in the country.

Language
The national language spoken in Turkmenistan is Turkmen, which is a language from the family of Turkic languages. Widely used as a second language is Russian (a Slavic language). While the post-independence generation is increasingly speaking other foreign languages such as English, French and Turkish, you will still find it rewarding to travel and communicate with the assistance of a translator/guide.

While the National History and Ethnography Museum and the Carpet Museum in Ashgabat offer good guided museum tours in a variety of languages, and the staff of most hotels with three stars and up will speak some English, few other sites of interest in the country offer more than basic information in foreign languages.

It is for this reason that OWADAN Tourism employs a team of guides/translators that can accompany you on your tour through Turkmenistan and that will be able to bring alive the country’s sites and help meet its friendly people. 

Turkmenistan has eight official holidays that are also public ones. These nationwide holidays are:

1 January - New Year
12 January - Memorial Day
8 March - International Women's Day
21-22 March - National Spring Festival
18 May - Constitution Day and National Flag Day
27 September - Independence Day
6 October - Day of Remembrance (of the victims of the earthquake in 1948)
12 December - Neutrality Day

The country also celebrates two major Islamic holidays - Eid al-Adha and Ramadan Bayram (end of Ramadan). Since both these dates are calculated according to the lunar Islamic calendar, the dates of their celebration calculated in advance and each year approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. These days are also public holidays.

There are also Turkmenistan national holidays that do not change the working days schedule. They include:

27 January - Day of Fatherland Defenders
31 March - Day of Chemical Industry Workers
7 April - World Health Day
17 April - Day of Workers of the Migration Service of Turkmenistan
Last Sunday in April - Turkmen Racing Horse Festival
9 May - Victory Day
25 May - Ashgabat City Day
29 May - Day of Internal Affairs Officers
Last Sunday of May - Turkmen Carpet Day
1 June - International Children's Day
5 June - World Environment Day
First Sunday in June - Day of Textile Industry
12 June - Science Day
18 June - Day of Workers of the Justice Ministry of Turkmenistan
26 June - Day of Workers of the Prosecutor's Office of Turkmenistan
27 June - Day of Turkmen Workers of Culture and Art, and Day of Poetry of Magtymguly Fragi
5 July - Day of Judicial Service Workers of Turkmenistan
21 July - Day of Health and Medical Industry
11 August - Day of Frontiersmen
1 September - Day of Knowledge and Students
Second Saturday in September - Day of Energy Industry
30 September - Day of Workers of the National Security Service of Turkmenistan
1 October - International Day of Senior Citizens
9 October - Day of Naval Forces of Turkmenistan
4 November - Day of Customs Service of Turkmenistan
Second Sunday of November - Hasyl Bayramy (Harvest Festival)
14 December - Day of the Workers of Oil, Gas, Power and Geological Industry
21 December - Day of Remembrance of the First President of Turkmenistan S.A. Niyazov (Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great)