Most Central Asian countries; human rights violations are linked to economic problems or wars. Moreover, the totalitarian regimes that dominate all of Central Asia make our knowledge of what actually “happened” in these countries and the way of life of people very scarce. But there is something surprising that we know about these little-known countries of Central Asia. Turkmenistan is one of the most interesting countries in Central Asia with its own peculiarities. Here are 12 interesting facts about Turkmenistan, also known as the “North Korea of Central Asia” that you probably haven’t heard about yet.
1. Turkmenistan gained independence on October 27, 1991.
The country was part of the Soviet Union until this date.
2. One of the largest Ferris wheels in the world was built in Turkmenistan
Located in an entertainment complex built in the capital Ashgabat in 2012, the Ferris wheel is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world with a length of 47.60 meters and a width of 57 meters.
3. There is a gas funnel in Turkmenistan that has been burning since 1971.
The Darwaza region of the country is home to interesting natural gas and oil craters called the Darwaza gas craters or “Gates to Hell”. Among these craters there is a remarkable crater 60 meters wide and 30 meters deep. The funnel, which was first lit by Soviet engineers in 1971, has been burning ever since.
4. The Karakum Desert, located within the country, is one of the driest regions in the world.
The Karakum desert makes up about 70 percent of the territory of Turkmenistan.
5. Turkmenistan is in sixth place in the world in terms of oil and natural gas reserves.
6. In 2015, all hospitals were closed, except for the capital Ashgabat!
For this reason, patients in the country are forced to go to Ashgabat for treatment!
7. There are still many interesting bans in the country.
Over the long years of being in power, Saparmurat Niyazov introduced many interesting practices and signed interesting bans! For example, since 2004, young men have been banned from growing their hair and beards. Playing computer games, listening to the radio in the car, or taking the Hippocratic Oath are some of the interesting bans in the country.
8. Turkmenistan, known as North Korea in Central Asia, is among the most difficult countries to visit due to very strict visa requirements.
For this reason, Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world.
9. In 2002, the names of the month and day were changed.
By a law passed in 2002, the names of months and days that had been used in the country for many years were replaced by the names of important figures or concepts in the history of Turkmenistan. For example, “dush”, meaning “Monday”, legally became “bashgun”. Yun, which in the Turkmen language means July, after 2002 was called “gorkut”.
10. The book “Rukhnama” written by Saparmurat Niyazov, who ruled Turkmenistan from 1991 to 2006, should be exhibited in all state institutions and shops in the country.
However, the book has a huge monument in the capital Ashgabat!
11. The first satellite of Turkmenistan was launched into space in 2015.
In the same year, the use of satellite dishes in Turkmenistan was banned so that the inhabitants of the country could not follow the international media.
12. According to the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, Turkmenistan ranks 176th out of 180 countries.
Only North Korea, China, Vietnam and Iran have worse press freedom scores than Turkmenistan!
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