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Map of Turkmenistan

Eastern Turkmenistan for centuries formed part of the Persian province of Khurasan; in medieval times Merv (today known as Mary) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia between 1865 and 1885, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic in 1924. It achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The country has extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves. The Turkmenistan Government is actively seeking to develop alternative petroleum transportation routes to break Russia's pipeline monopoly. President for Life Saparmurat Nyyazow died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential electoral process in February 2007. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, a former Nyyazow aide, emerged as the country's new president. Turkmen is the primary language; Russian and Uzbek are also spoken.
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