Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert. It’s known for archaeological ruins including those at Nisa and Merv, major stops along the ancient trade route the Silk Road.
Ashgabat, the capital, was rebuilt in Soviet style in the mid-20th century and is filled with grand monuments honoring former president Saparmurat Niyazov. The country's capital, Ashgabat, has been described as a cross between Pyongyang and Las Vegas.
Despite its rich past history, Turkmenistan is still a young independent state. It declared its independence in October 1991 following disintegration of the former Soviet Union.
Turkmenistan was once part of the ancient Persian Empire. The Turkmen people were originally pastoral nomads and some of them continued this way of life up into the 20th century, living in transportable dome-shaped felt tents.