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Present-day Turkmenistan covers territory that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. The area was ruled in antiquity by various Persian empires, and was conquered by Alexander the Great, Muslim crusaders, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. In medieval times Merv (today known as Mary) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia in the late 1800s, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic; it achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited, have begun to transform the country. Turkmenistan is moving to expand its extraction and delivery projects. The Turkmen Government is actively working to diversify its gas export routes beyond the still important Russian pipeline network. In 2010, new gas export pipelines that carry Turkmen gas to China and to northern Iran began operating, effectively ending the Russian monopoly on Turkmen gas exports. President for Life Saparmurat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Turkmenistan held its first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007. Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a deputy cabinet chairman under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president; he was reelected in February 2012.


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Communications

Telephones - main lines in use World Ranking: 97
520,000 (2009)

Telephones - mobile cellular World Ranking: 119
3.198 million (2009)

Telephone system
General assessment
Telecommunications network remains underdeveloped and progress toward improvement is slow; strict government control and censorship inhibits liberalization and modernization
Domestic
Turkmentelekom, in cooperation with foreign partners, has installed high speed fiber-optic lines and has upgraded most of the country's telephone exchanges and switching centers with new digital technology; combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity is about 40 per 100 persons but the expulsion of the country's primary mobile service provider, Russia's Mobile Telesystems, in December 2010 significantly reduced access to mobile phone service
International
Country code - 993; linked by fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; an exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat (2008)

Broadcast media
Broadcast media is government controlled and censored; 7 state-owned TV and 4 state-owned radio networks; satellite dishes and programming provide an alternative to the state-run media; officials sometimes limit access to satellite TV by removing satellite dishes (2007)

Internet country code
.tm

Internet hosts World Ranking: 177
717 (2010)

Internet users World Ranking: 165
80,400 (2009)


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  Turkmenistan (Ashgabat):


  GPS points from Turkmenistan (Ashgabat)

Ashgabat Turkmenistan (general)

Kolodets Pak-kuyu Lebap Welayaty

Ushchel'ye Kechunzovi Turkmenistan (general)

Kolodets Tamalad Turkmenistan (general)

Kolodets Rustem Turkmenistan (general)

Keymir Suwhowdany Turkmenistan (general)

Kara-nuri Dasoguz Welayaty

Kolodets Gerdzha Turkmenistan (general)




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