Settlements from older Paleolithic are known. During the 5000s BC appeared in Turkmenistan Central Asia’s oldest known agricultural culture (see Dzjejtun). During the Copper Age and the Bronze Age, the contrasts between the Highlands – whose most important known settlement is Namazga-depe – became evident, and groups related to the Androno culture on the steppe. From the 7th century BC performed complicated social structures with large irrigation systems and monumental architecture.
During the 500s BC the area was incorporated into the Persian Empire, and it was later conquered by Alexander the Great. It was a core land in the Parthian kingdom from the middle of the 20th century BC; About 20 km west of Ashgabat are the ruins of their first capital, Nisa. The earliest Turkish groups reached Turkmenistan in the 300s AD.
The area that today constitutes Turkmenistan was early populated by Iranian tribes but was conquered by Arabs in the 6th century. In addition to traces of Iranian culture, there are also abundant archaeological finds from Alexander the Great and his rulers who, among other things, introduced wine culture from Greece. In the 9th century, Turkmen are mentioned, who at this time established themselves in Central Asia. The area was ruled by the Seljuks in the middle of the 11th century and was conquered by the Genghis Khan at the beginning of the 13th century. It was read from the mid-13th century to the 1330s during the Mongolian invaders of Iran and from the 1370s under Timur Lenk and his descendants. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Turkmenistan.
During the 16th century, the area was disputed between the Uzbeks in the north and the Iranian Safavid dynasty, which succeeded in getting the Turkmen tribes to recognize Iranian supremacy. However, the Turkmen remained independent in practice during the following centuries, although the Chiva and Afghanistan khanates sometimes exerted some influence.
The Turkmen lived above all as herdsmen and peasants. Under the leadership of the Teket Turks, a centralization of power began, which was interrupted when Russia conquered the Khanate of Chiva and Kokand in 1865-73 and the emirate of Buchara. In 1881, Russian troops conquered the Gök-Tepe fortress and inflicted a violent massacre on Turkmen, and in 1884 Merv was captured. In an agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom, the border between Turkmenistan, Iran and Afghanistan was fixed in 1895. In doing so, Russia also secured the important link to Afghanistan, a crucial piece in the “big game”v. United Kingdom on influence in the region. In connection with this, Turkmenistan was placed under Russian military administration. Russian settlers moved in and pasture turned into arable land. Ashgabat was built in 1881 as a garrison city, railway junction and administration center.
After the Russian Revolution , in 1921 the Bolsheviks established an autonomous Turkmen region, transformed into a full state in the Soviet Union in 1924. Turkmenistan’s nomads were forcibly collectivized in 1928-38, and numerous politicians and intellectuals in Turkmenistan fell victim to Josef Stalin’s purges. The modernization of the country took place with industries to which Russia’s labor force was recruited. Agriculture focused on cotton production.
Turkmenistan became an independent republic at the beginning of 1992. The old power structure has survived, and the country’s elite are still recruited from leading families, mainly among Tekke and Jomud Turkmen. During the last years of the Soviet Union’s existence, some discussion clubs and journals for social debates emerged, in which the Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences played an important role. However, these were banned immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union by President Saparmurat Nijazov. By constantly rotating ministers and governors, he had within a few years turned Turkmenistan into a monarchy.
Nijazov shortened compulsory school, closed hospitals, banned Western opera and banned female students and TV journalists from using makeup. During the 1990s, Nijazov developed an extensive cult of personality around himself and took the title Turkmenbasji (‘Turkmen chief’).
Turkmenification has been strengthened, and contacts have been made with Turkmen in Afghanistan. Islam has gained more space in social life; however, Nijazov made it compulsory to also study his own “Ruhnama” (“Soul Book”). Mosques have been built or restored, new national holidays that have gained much national symbolic significance have been introduced, including a special holiday in April for traditional horse sports. In the central parts of Ashgabad’s central parts, many residential buildings have been given space for administration buildings and marble museums. In foreign policy, Turkmenistan has declared itself neutral and has placed great prestige in its UN membership, for example by opening a transport corridor through the country for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
In November 2002, several prominent Turkmen, led by former Foreign Minister Boris Sjichmuradov (born 1949), prepared a coup d’谷tat against Nijazov. The coup was actively supported by Uzbekistan’s then Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov (born 1947). However, the conspiracy was revealed and was followed by a scavenging wave.
In December 2006, it was announced that Nijazov had died and that Gurbanguli Berdimuchammedov (born 1957) was appointed acting president. At the beginning of 2007, Berdimuchammedov received 89 percent of the vote in a rigorous presidential election. It was the first election with several candidates to choose from, however, all came from the governing and in the election the only allowed party.
During his first term as president, Berdimuchammedovs succeeded in consolidating his power at the expense of the personal cult of the late President Nijazov, and he was re-elected in strictly controlled presidential elections in 2012 and 2017 with 97 and 98 percent of the vote, respectively.
Turkmenistan is grappling with major ecological problems, and the risk of social conflicts is imminent.