What is the terrain and geography like in Turkmenistan?
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.
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.