A former member of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan is located in central Asia along the Caspian Sea. Since independence was declared in 2001, the country has been struggling with a 60 percent unemployment rate, but further development of oil and gas reserves is eventually expected to improve the $6,700 per capita income. Almost half of the workforce is engaged in agriculture, mostly in cotton production. Roughly half the population lives in urban areas. At present, nearly a third of Turkmens live below the poverty line, and government corruption depletes what resources are available. In this homogeneous society, 85 percent of the population identify themselves as Turkmens. Because 89 percent of the populous is Muslim, this politically authoritarian country has a highly traditional culture in which ...

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