The most curious of the Central Asian republics, Turkmenistan resembles an Arab Gulf state without the money. It's the second largest Central Asian country, but four-fifths of it consists of an inhospitable lunar-like desert called the Karakum which conceals unexploited oil and gas deposits.
The country is sparsely populated and its people, the Turkmen, are only a generation or two removed from being nomads. Turkmenistan is as much a culture as a country since the Turkmen have never formed a real nation and have allowed their cities to become predominantly populated by other peoples.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track