The Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan is bordered on the west by the Caspian Sea, with Iran to the south, Afghanistan to the southeast, Uzbekistan to the north and northeast, and Kazakhstan to the northwest. It is sparsely populated, with only 5.6 million people. Its capital is Ashgebat, a major stop on the Trans-Caspian railway. Its location has made it a crossroad throughout recorded history; the ancient city of Merv was a major city of the Islamic world and an important site on the Silk Road, the chief trade route between China and the West. In 1881, Turkmenistan was annexed by the Russian Empire and became the province of Transcaspia; following the Russian Revolution, it became the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. Later, during the period ...

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