A republic in Asia east of the Caspian Sea and south of Kazakhstan and north of Iran; an Asian Soviet from 1925 to 1991; Also called: Turkomen, Turkmen, Turkmenia.
Country in central Asia, bounded N by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, W by the Caspian Sea, and S by Iran and Afghanistan.
Under the 1992 constitution there is a directly elected 50-member working parliament, the Majlis, and a 110-member supreme national assembly, the People's Council (Khalk Maslakhaty), comprising 60 directly elected representatives from the districts, the 50 Majlis members, members of the council of ministers, and local council and judicial heads. Both chambers serve a five-year term. The president, who is directly elected for a five-year term, is both head of state and government and appoints the council of ministers.
The principal Turkmen tribes are the Tekkes of Merv and Attok, the Ersaris, the Yomuds, and the Gokluns, all speaking varieties of a Turkic language and descended from the Mongol invaders who swept across Asia in the 13th century.
Conquered by Tsarist Russia 1877–1900, the region became part of the Turkestan Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic 1921, and a constituent republic of the USSR 1925. The Soviet-built Kara Kum canal brought millions of acres of desert to life, although living standards remained very low.
Turkmenistan’s nationalist movement was more muted than in other former Soviet Central Asian republics. In Aug 1990 Turkmenistan’s supreme soviet declared its “sovereignty”; Saparmurad Niyazov was elected president. However, in the March 1991 USSR constitutional referendum the population voted to maintain the Union, and the attempted anti-Gorbachev coup in Moscow Aug 1991 was initially supported by President Niyazov. In the Oct 1991 referendum there was an overwhelming (94%) vote in favor of independence, duly declared.
Turkmenistan joined the Commonwealth of Independent States Dec 1991. It was admitted into the United Nations March 1992. In the same month US diplomatic recognition was achieved. In Feb 1992 Turkmenistan had joined the Economic Cooperation Organization, founded by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey 1975. A new constitution was introduced May 1992 but the republic's political system remained dominated by communists. In Nov–Dec a 110-member People's Council (Khalk Maslakhaty), or supreme parliament, was popularly elected. In 1994 President Niyazov received overwhelming support for his presidency in a national referendum, thereby extending his mandate by five years and bypassing the constitutional requirement for reelection.