Turkmenistan is the second largest state in Central Asia, after Kazakhstan and is the southernmost of the region’s five republics.
After Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan is the least densely populated of the Central Asian states. Much of its waterless expanse is inhospitable to plant and animal life. Except for oases in narrow strips dotted along the foothills of the Kopet-Dag Range and along the Amu Darya, Morghab, and Tejen rivers, deserts characterize its sunbaked sandy terrain. From 1925 to 1991 Turkmenistan was the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, a constituent republic of the Soviet Union; it declared independence on October 27, 1991. The capital is Ashgabat, which lies near southern border with Iran.
Turkmenistan is located in the southwest of the Central Asia region. It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Most of its land consists of oases scattered amid otherwise uninhabitable desert.
Four-fifths of Turkmenistan consists of the southern part of Turan Plain. Mountains and foothills rise mainly in the southern part of the republic, including the Kugitanktau and Kopet-Dag ranges. The Kopet-Dag. The Karakum is one of the world’s largest sand deserts, taking up the entire central part of Turkmenistan and extending northward toward Kazakhstan.