Turkmenistan has a very unusual history and is one of the quirkiest countries we have ever visited. After having the most engaging conversation with our guide, we were compelled to write a list of crazy yet interesting facts about Turkmenistan that the world needs to know. (Drum Roll Please!)
Also Read: The top sights to see in Turkmenistan
20 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TURKMENISTAN
- It is currently one of the least visited countries in the world. Year 2018 saw 13000 visitors.
- It is the most expensive country in Central Asia for travelers. You will need to book a tour package to get a visa.
- Tourist visa to this country can be obtained only through a government approved agency within Turkmenistan.
- Tourists are not allowed to explore the country on their own. You will need to be accompanied by a guide at all times.
- Most phone apps are blocked in Turkmenistan. Not even your emails will work here.
- Turkmenistan became independent from Soviet rule in 1991 and it’s first president Niyazov declared himself “President For Life.” He remained president until his death in 2006.
- After having quit smoking in 1997 due to a heart ailment, the President banned smoking for all government employees and in all public places.
- President Niyazov contracted a French company to build a Mausoleum for him and his family near the Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque. The Mausoleum is built entirely with Italian marble and visitors need to bow down to see the burial chamber, ensuring everyone pays respect. He also built a golden statue of himself that rotates with the sun.
- Literacy is very important in Turkmenistan. Every child has to go to school. The government feels that this is the best way to curb any sort of extremism within the country.
- President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow banned all non-white cars from the capital in 2018. He also banned the import of black cars into the country. Though no official statement was issued, it is believed that white is the president’s favorite color.
- Turkmenistan holds a Guinness World Record for the most number of white marble buildings.
- The famous Darvaza Crater started burning 50 years ago due to a human error. As it resembles the description of hell, it is popularly nicknamed “Doorway to Hell”
- Turkmenistan is home to a mud and water crater in addition to Darvaza, the fire crater.
- The similarity of the name between Turkey and Turkmenistan is not just a coincidence. Both Turks and the Turkmen belong to the Oghuz tribe and also speak similar languages.
- One of the world’s biggest cities during the Silk Road era, Merv in Turkmenistan is the western most point to which Buddhism spread at its height. Buddhist stupas are preserved here till date.
- You will not find any International retail brands in Turkmenistan.
- Turkmen horse breed Akhal Teke are considered the most exotic and rarest horse breed in the world. The country has a ministry dedicated to its upkeep.
- Turkmenistan is known to have the most fertile desert in the world.
- The national sport of Turkmenistan is horse racing and wrestling.
- Turkmenistan has the 6th largest oil and gas reserves in the world.