Turkmenistan Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Turkmenistan?

Overview:

Situated in central Asia, Turkmenistan lies north of the Kopet Dag Mountain Range, between the Caspian Sea and the Amu Darya River. The country has borders with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on the north and northeast and with Iran and Afghanistan on the south and southeast. Turkmenistan has an area of 488,100 square kilometers or 188,417 square miles.

The most significant geographic feature is the Kara Kum Desert. One of the world's largest deserts, it covers 350,000 square kilometers, or 80% of the country's total land area. The Repetek Sandy Desert Biosphere Reserve near Charjew (Turkmenabad), which was set up in 1928, monitors the unique desert flora and fauna found in the Kara Kum.

The Kopet Dag Mountain Range, to the south, forms a 2,000-meter-high natural border between Iran and Turkmenistan. The stark slopes are home to a number of endangered species, including leopards and mountain sheep. Most of the mountains are inaccessible, as they fall within restricted border areas.

Cities, towns, and farms are confined to the Amu Darya (historic Oxus) River Valley and to the narrow strip of arable land along the Iranian and Afghan borders.

The Silk Road ran from the central regions of China through Turkmenistan to the Mediterranean coast during ancient times and the Middle Ages. The caravans carried silk, tea, china, and lacquerware to the European markets. Significant ruins related to these trade routes are located outside the present-day cities of Mary (Merv) and Dashoguz.

Geography - note:

landlocked; the western and central low-lying desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau

Climate:

Precipitation in the inhabited regions averages 19 centimeters per year. Most of this falls between December and April. As you would expect in a desert climate, it does get very hot. In June, July, and August it is often uncomfortable to be outside during the day, as the temperatures consistently exceed 40°C (over 100°F), although with very low humidity. At times in August, the "Afghan Winds" come from the east, and the temperature can soar into the high 40s. However, by late September the temperatures cool, and pleasant, autumn-like weather prevails.

The winter, which begins in late November, can be chilly, wet, and muddy, with temperatures between 0°C and 15°C in the daytime, with occasional light snow.

Turkmenistan is in one of the world's high seismic regions. During the past 100 years, there have been four disastrous earthquakes with intensities of 6+ on the Richter scale, each one resulting in great loss of life and property. In 1948, Ashgabat suffered a quake of tremendous strength. All but six buildings were destroyed, and the entire city shifted 2 meters to the north. More than 30,000 of the 130,000 residents died, and an additional 85,000 were injured.

Turkmenistan Use of Natural Resources

Turkmenistan Environment

Climate:

Precipitation in the inhabited regions averages 19 centimeters per year. Most of this falls between December and April. As you would expect in a desert climate, it does get very hot. In June, July, and August it is often uncomfortable to be outside during the day, as the temperatures consistently exceed 40°C (over 100°F), although with very low humidity. At times in August, the "Afghan Winds" come from the east, and the temperature can soar into the high 40s. However, by late September the temperatures cool, and pleasant, autumn-like weather prevails.

The winter, which begins in late November, can be chilly, wet, and muddy, with temperatures between 0°C and 15°C in the daytime, with occasional light snow.

Turkmenistan is in one of the world's high seismic regions. During the past 100 years, there have been four disastrous earthquakes with intensities of 6+ on the Richter scale, each one resulting in great loss of life and property. In 1948, Ashgabat suffered a quake of tremendous strength. All but six buildings were destroyed, and the entire city shifted 2 meters to the north. More than 30,000 of the 130,000 residents died, and an additional 85,000 were injured.

Terrain:

flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west

Natural Resources:

petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt

Natural Hazards:

NA

Irrigated Land:

7,687 Square Miles
19,910 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salination, water-logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river's inability to replenish the Aral Sea; desertification

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Turkmenistan Geography

Geographic Location Asia
Total Area 188,455 Square Miles
488,100 Square Kilometers
Land Area 181,440 Square Miles
469,930 Square Kilometers
Water Area 7,015 Square Miles
18,170 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 2,321 Miles
3,736 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 7,687 Square Miles
19,910 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km
Geographic Coordinates 40 00 N, 60 00 E
Terrain flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west
Highest Point 3,139 Meters
Highest Point Location Gora Ayribaba 3,139 m
Lowest Point -81 Meters
Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, coal, sulfur, salt
Time Zone UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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