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February 09, 2006


Checking in at Deadprogrammer's Cafe (a wonderfully weird and quirky blog), I stumbled across this fabulous potted biography of Saparmurad A. Niyazov (aka Turkmenbashi, or "leader of all Turkmans"), President-for-Life of Turkmenistan. Though I'd never heard of Niyazov or his country before, he is clearly a very unusual fellow, leading a very unusual country. Consider the following:

  • Here is how one of only two Turkemistan travel agents found on Yahoo describes their country's touristic appeal:

    The man, who has never been to Turkmenistan, this country is presented lost in the heart of Asia in the hot, boundless sand of Great desert Karakumy. But it is only the first impression, and after visiting Turkmenistan it is changed by the deep feeling of attachment to this country with the rich vegetable and animal kingdom, variety of landscape and climatic zones. Turkmenistan has the ancient and rich history with its events, which remained many traces in the form of splendid architectural monuments, forts and medrese that allocated in five velayats forming modern Turkmenistan. The tourist routes are passing through each velayat, opening the monuments of the most ancient civilization of the world. These monuments show the high development of earlier state formation in Turkmenistan. Parfiya, Khorezm, Margiana only the names of these states in which the civilization prosperity in the past and which formed the ethnogenetic basis of the modern Turkmen people. These states speak about rich, cultural heritage, which is very interesting for the people who love the history of ancient time.

  • A less wacky travel agency has these cautionary bits of advice for foreign travelers; "Medical care in Turkmenistan is limited" and you need a letter of invitation in order to even apply for an entry visa.

  • Lonely Planet's tagline for Turkmenistan is "A lunar landscape with craters of cultural activity."

  • President Niyazov has written a book called Ruhnama, whose web site describes it as "on par with the Bible and the Koran, [and] is to be used as a Spiritual Guide - to remove the complexities and anguishes from day to day living..

It looks like a fun place to visit. Maybe even nicer than Libya.

February 9, 2006 at 09:36 AM | Permalink


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I visited Ashkabad (the capital of Turmmenistan) in 1983. It was an interesting experience, but there was not a lot there. Very hot, bad food, garish architecture built in wake of a city destroying earthquake ... but that was Soviet times.

For me, the highlight of trip was a ride into the Kara Kum desert to visit the ruins of an ancient city, one of the cities were captured Roman Eagle Standards had been displayed two thousand years ago. From the ruins you could see Iran, so our "minder" would allow no pictures.

They also wear very funny hats when they ride on camels. I do have pics of that.

Posted by: DCPI | Feb 10, 2006 7:43:56 AM

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