Turkmen are believed to have their roots in a
merger between Turkish and Mongolian clans. This clan
association must have settled in the area of
present-day Turkmenistan around the end of the 7th
century. At the beginning of the 13th century, the
Mongol ruler Genghis Khan laid down the area, and in the
19th century it was colonized by Russia. In 1924,
Turkmenistan was incorporated as a sub-republic in the
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Turkmenistan, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Archaeologists have found about 4,000 years of
writing in excavations in the Turkmen capital of
Ashgabat (Aşgabat). The finding suggests that Central
Asia already had a high civilization at that time,
comparable to Mesopotamia in an area that today belongs
to Iraq. This was hundreds of years before the Chinese
developed their writing.
The Turkmen are considered to be descended from a
Turkish-Mongolian clan association that settled in the
area of Turkmenistan at the end of the 7th century AD.
There was then a Muslim Persian population. Disputes
arose between the two peoples. The term Turkmen appeared
for the first time in written sources in the 9th century
and was used about people who converted to Islam.
Islamic kingdom in Samarkand
In the coming centuries, power shifted between a
number of dynasties and rulers. At the beginning of the
13th century, Jingi's Khan conquered large parts of
Central Asia. The next great ruler was Timur Lenk, who
himself was the Turk and established a high-ranking
Islamic culture centered in Samarkand. After his death,
the kingdom gradually collapsed.
From the 1400s to the 1700s, the clans in southern
Turkmenistan were under Persian rule, while the clans in
the north belonged to the Khanate of Chiva and the
emirate of Buchara. The Turkmen often revolted but never
succeeded in creating their own state.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Persians
assumed dominion over the clans in the north. The
nomads' ability to support themselves deteriorated, and
several Turkmen clans gradually began to move into
As early as the 16th century, the Russian tsarism had
trade relations with Bukhara and Chiva, and in the early
1800s the Russians sought to control the Central Asian
trade routes completely. One reason was that the Russian
textile industry had begun to suffer from cotton
shortages as a result of the American civil war. The
Russians therefore searched for new cotton suppliers.
The Russians soon conquered the area that today
constitutes Kazakhstan, as well as the city of Tashkent
in present-day Uzbekistan. Thereafter, the kingdoms of
Samarkand, Chiva and Buchara were in turn taken in
order. Finally, only the Turkmen clans remained subdued.
Superior Russian forces destroyed and burned all Turkmen
settlements between the Caspian Sea and Chiva in
1871-1873. A great battle was fought in 1879 at the Gök
Tepe fortress, where the Russians were defeated by the
In 1881 the Russians returned to Gök Tepe and won
over the Turkmen in a bloody battle. The Russians killed
everyone who sought protection in the fort, which was
about 20,000 people, according to the Russian commander.
Then the cities of Aşgabat and Merv (Mary) also fell.
Turkmenistan could be incorporated into the new Russian
colony of Turkestan.
The Russians began an extensive export of raw
materials to the mother country, and railways began to
be built. Great contradictions arose between the Turkmen
and the Russian and Ukrainian settlers.
Turkmenistan becomes Soviet
In connection with the October Revolution of 1917 in
Russia, the Bolsheviks tried to seize power in
Turkestan's capital Tashkent. They were thwarted by the
locals, whose leaders proclaimed the Republic of
Turkestan in November 1917.
Then Bolsheviks and Turkmen nationalists switched to
power until the Bolsheviks took full control in 1920.
Four years later, Turkmenistan became a sub-republic in
the Soviet Union. The people repeatedly tried to revolt
against the alien, communist Soviet system. There were
guerrilla-like resistance groups, basmati, and the last
uprising was fought in 1931 in the Karakum desert.
During the rest of the 1920s and throughout the
1930s, major changes were made to the Turkmen society -
against the will of the people. In a comprehensive
secularization campaign (with the aim of making society
non-religious), all Muslim schools were closed down and
mosques demolished. The 1929 forced collectivization of
agriculture, which transferred the land into state
ownership, cost thousands of lives.
At the beginning of the 1930s, Turkmen intellectuals
gathered around the demand for greater
self-determination. Many of them were cleared and
executed by the regime, including Turkmen party
officials and government members. Russian was made
official language while the Turkmen neglected. The
national epic works were banned.
Parliamentary elections without opposition
Parliamentary elections are held - the first since the country got a new
constitution. However, no real opposition candidates are allowed to stand. The
ruling Turkmenistan Democratic Party completely dominates the new parliament: 90
percent of its members belong to the ruling party, while 10 percent are formally
independent, in practice regime-loyal members. According to the Election
Commission, turnout is close to 94 percent. Oppositionists estimate it to be
around 30 percent.
The People's Council adopts a new constitution where the Council replaces
itself with a larger and elected parliament, which is given the legislative
power (see Political system). The new constitution provides for multi-party
The ex-president's golden statue is taken down
President Berdimuhamedow ordered the removal of the large, rotating and
gilded statue of Nijazov in the capital Ashgabat (Aşgabat).
The ex-president's calendar is being canceled
Turkmenistan returns to the Gregorian calendar used before the then President
Nijazov introduced his own calendar, where months and weekdays are named after
relatives of him.
Gas to Iran is stopped
Turkmenistan temporarily suspends gas supplies to Iran on the grounds that
the neighboring country fails to pay for the gas and that technical problems
have arisen. Iran is reacting angrily, claiming that Turkmenistan is trying to
double the price of natural gas.