Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia that gained its status as a sovereign state in 1991. It is bordered by countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as the Caspian Sea. Most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert.
Turkmenistan’s economy is driven by the fact that it has one of the largest reserves of natural gas and substantial oil resources. It produces roughly 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year and about two-thirds of its exports go to Russia’s Gazprom. Turkmenistan is also one of the world’s largest cotton producing countries.
Most of Turkmenistan’s citizens are ethnic Turkmens with large minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. Turkmen is the official language, although Russian still is widely spoken in cities. The vast majority of the population are Muslim.