Turkmenistan Country Report
Turkmenistan, a former Soviet Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has been independent for over two decades (since 1991); however, it remains relatively closed to the global community and cannot be said to enjoy full freedom of expression. Turkmenistan is sparsely populated (5.1 million inhabitants), poor (in per capita income, but rich in hydrocarbons) and unequally developed from one region to another. In all, despite being a generally “safe” destination, Turkmenistan remains a little-known and lesser-visited country among Western travelers.
The next legislative elections will be held in December 2018.
It should be noted that in early January 2015, the Turkmen government announced the devaluation of the national currency the manat by approximately 20 percent due to the fall of the ruble and global hydrocarbon markets. As of early 2017, one manat is worth approximately USD 0.29.
Regarding transportation, the conditions of Turkmenistan’s various modes of transport are less than ideal. Due to the poor state of roads, the absence of reliable road maps, poorly-marked streets, and changing weather conditions, travelers should be extremely prudent while driving in the country. Traveling by rail (slow, uncomfortable, and relatively unsafe) or by air is not particularly advisable.
Furthermore, access to certain areas is heavily restricted or outright forbidden (notably the regions bordering Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan). Even obtaining official authorization to leave the capital, Ashgabat, could prove difficult. It should also be noted that military reinforcements were deployed to the Turkmen side in mid-March 2014 following incidents that took place along the Afghan border (750 km [450 mi] land border).
Regarding health conditions, it should be noted that malaria is present in the south of the country (although preventive medicine is not necessary); rabies is also present and a high percentage of the population is HIV-positive.
Tap water is not potable; consume only bottled or purified water, including when brushing your teeth and bathing babies.
Medical infrastructure is severely underdeveloped outside of the capital (population one million, located in south near the Iranian border). In the event of a serious medical emergency, repatriation should be considered.
Turkmenistan's climate is continental with low levels of precipitation throughout the year. Summer are scorching (40°C) and dry while winters are bitterly cold (-25°C). Spring and autumn are pleasant with mild temperatures. The air is dry in the center of the country but more humid along the Caspian Sea. Violent winds often blow across the Karakum Desert, sometimes triggering sandstorms.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +993 Police: 02 Fire Dept.: 01 Ambulance: 03
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Turkmenistan: Ban on women drivers and black cars
TIMEFRAME: from 1/8/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/19/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Ashgabat).
Turkmenistan: MTS phone operator suspends services Nov. 21
TIMEFRAME: from 11/21/2017, 12:00 AM until 12/5/2017, 11:59 PM (Asia/Ashgabat).