Country Focus Data: Turkmenistan

by Melissa Alexander
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Capital: Ashgabat.

Demography: Population 4.4 million, 1.58% growth rate (1999 estimates); Turkmen, Russian languages; 89% Muslim religion.

Geography: In central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan; subtropical, desert climate.

Government: Republic. Chief of state and head of government is President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture.

Economy: Transition. Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reforms. Privatization has been slow and limited, and the state continues to control many markets and all trade. The country is rich in natural gas and oil resources, which initially helped shield its economy from disruption following the break-up of the Soviet Union. But the mounting debts of its FSU trade partners in the mid-1990s caused a downturn. Turkmenistan since has focused on developing new gas export markets and distribution channels, an on-going process that may take years to reach fruition. The agriculture and forestry sector accounts for 18% of gross domestic product and employs 44% of the work force.

G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$1,630 (purchasing power parity), 5% G.D.P. growth rate, 19.8% inflation (all 1998 estimates).

Currency: Turkmenistan manat. Aug. 12, 2000 official exchange rate: 5,247.22 manats per U.S. dollar. The curb rate in April was about 15,500 manats per dollar.

Exports: U.S.$689 million (1997 estimate), natural gas, cotton, petroleum products.

Imports: U.S.$1.1 billion (1997 estimate), machinery, grains, consumer durables.

Major crops/agricultural products: Wheat, cotton.

Wheat: Annual production in the past five years averaged 998,000 tonnes, but output in the past three seasons has surpassed 1 million per year. A push for self-sufficiency has cut imports to fewer than 100,000 tonnes a year since 1997 from an average of 355,000 a year in the previous five years.

Transportation: Rail, 2,187 km, all 1.520-m gauge; highways, 24,000 km, 19,488 hard-surfaced (paved or all-weather gravel); major port is Turkmenbashy on the Caspian Sea, with the Amu Darya river an important inland waterway.

(1,000 tonnes)

Production

Consumption

Exports

Imports

Wheat

1,500

1,325

0

25

Flour

303

NA

NA

NA

2000-01 marketing year estimates for wheat, 1997 for flour. (NA = not available.)

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, International Grains Council

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