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Turkmenistan (spelled Türkmenistan in the local language) is a Central Asian nation and a former republic of the Soviet Union. It is bordered by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to the north, Afghanistan to the east, Iran to the south, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Its currency is the New Manat, its official language is Turkmen (not to be confused with Turkish, although they share a root dialect), its predominant religion is Islam and its capital is Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan's history can be summed up as continually being taken over by other armies on their way to bigger and brighter targets, culminating in its annexation by the Soviet Union in 1924, thus turning it into the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). It declared independence in October 1991, which was recognized two months later as part of The Great Politics Mess-Up.

However, It Got Worse. The first post-Soviet president, Sapuramat Nizayov, installed (what could be seen as) a Cult of Personality rivaled only by North Korea or the Stalin-era USSR. He renamed all the months and days in the calendar (including one named after his mother), banned things like the opera, circuses, video games, and even gold tooth fillings, gave himself the title "Türkmenbaşy" (Leader of the Turkmens), wrote the Ruhnama, an autobiography and passed it off as a religious text on the same level as the Quran, and eventually declared himself president-for-life.

Fortunately (for the West), that "for-life" part didn't last. Nizayov died of a heart attack on 21 December 2006, and was succeeded by Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow in an election two months later. Ironically, Berdimuhamedow previously served as a dentist whose pension was taken away by Nizayov before he died; Berdimuhamedow returned the favor by restoring pensions to 100,000 affected doctors. To this day, Turkmenistan still qualifies as a People's Republic of Tyranny, being a single-party state (and that one party used to be the Communist Party), but Berdimuhamedow has taken steps to dismantle Nizayov's cult of personality and replace it with his own.

The Turkmen flag

Flag of Turkmenistan
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