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Turkmenistan is the second largest
Central Asian country. Eighty
percent of its land mass is an
inhospitable desert. The Karakum
Desert, one of the driest deserts in the
world, contains unexploited oil and
gas reserves. Despite its gas wealth,
much of Turkmenistan’s population is
still impoverished.

The Republic of Turkmenistan is
bordered by Kazakhstan to the
northwest, Uzbekistan to the north
and east, Afghanistan to the southeast,
and Iran to the south. The population
of the country is 5.6 million.

Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet
Republic until 1992. In the Soviet era,
the authorities attempted to eradicate
all religious systems. Religious
education and religious observances
were banned. Mosques and places
of worship were closed. Since 1990,
there have been attempts to restore
some of the historical culture lost
under Soviet rule.

10 After the collapse of the former
Communist rule, the communist
leader Niyazov appointed himself as
a self-styled dictator for life. In 1992,
he led the presidential election with
only himself as a candidate. No one
else was allowed to run for the office.

He renamed all the days of the week
after himself and his family. The
president then proceeded to build
golden statues of himself. Niyazov
did not forget his mother, naming the
only men’s magazine in the country
after her.

Niyazov died suddenly in 2006, leaving
a country without a stable power
structure. In early February 2007,
Deputy Prime Minister Gurbanguly
Berdimuhamedow won the special
presidential election. He was re-
elected in 2012.

The CIA World Factbook gives the
ethnic composition of Turkmenistan
as 85% Turkmen, 5% Uzbek, 4%
Russian, and 6% other (2003
estimates). There are two languages
spoken in Turkmenistan and the
whole Bible is available in one of the
languages. According to the CIA World Factbook,
the religions of the tiny country are
Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%,
and unknown 2%. The unknown 2%
would include Christian and Jewish.

It would be extremely difficult for
a missionary to enter this country.

In many places around the world,
the internet would offer evangelistic
opportunity, but the internet is
available to only a small percentage
of the population in Turkmenistan. It
is found in some hotels; however, it is
under constant surveillance from the
state. Visitors are watched carefully.

Persecution against Christians is
on the increase. Christian leaders
have suffered beatings and foreign
Christians have not been allowed to
remain in the country. Pray for the
people of Turkmenistan—so long in
darkness.