Turkmenistan is described by the World Bank
as a "higher average income country". But the state's
large revenues from natural gas and oil have not
benefited the entire population. Health care is
neglected and there is a shortage of trained healthcare
personnel, medical equipment and medicines.
Turkmenistan's oil and gas wealth is unevenly
distributed among the population. A small, usually
corrupt elite is favored, while poverty is still
widespread especially in the countryside. On average,
Turkmen spend almost half their wages on food, according
to a UN report.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Turkmenistan, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
To facilitate the poor households, earlier
electricity, drinking water and some food were heavily
subsidized by the state. An economic crisis from 2014
meant that the government was gradually forced to remove
the subsidies, which has led to social unrest and also
lack of certain food items, such as flour.
During the Soviet era (c. 1920–1991), healthcare was
free of charge, but now a fee is levied. The standard of
health care dropped after independence and public health
deteriorated. Life expectancy is relatively low, the
lowest among all former Soviet republics. Child
mortality is the highest in the former Soviet bloc.
President Nijazov (1990–2006) in 2005 closed
hospitals outside the capital Ashgabat (Aşgabat) on the
grounds that the medical shortage was crying. The rural
hospitals were opened after Nijazov's death, but are of
a low standard.
Few women in politics
Turkmenistan is a transit country for smuggling drugs
from east to west. In the country, drug abuse has
increased, mainly from heroin and other opium-based
drugs. As a result of the drug trade, prostitution and
crime have also increased.
Discrimination on the grounds of sex is illegal, but
still exists in society. The women are underrepresented
in higher positions in business, politics and
Turkmen law states that homosexual acts between men
are prohibited and can be punishable by two years in
prison. Gay acts between women are not included in the
law book. Same-sex partnerships cannot be registered
with the authorities. Persecution of homosexuals by the
authorities has not been established, but conservative
values among the population mean that homosexuality is
rarely socially accepted.
In the absence of a reliable system of health care
and social security on the part of the community, the
family and the clan have remained the most important
social protection network of the Turks. In the
traditional nomadic society, the Turkmen lived in small
groups of people who rarely had contact with each other.
Exceptions were made, for example, during wars or
holidays. Although the Soviet system brought about major
changes in the family structure, many features of the
nomadic life survived.
Family cohesion is usually strong and it is not
uncommon for more than five children in a nuclear
family. In the countryside, it is rather a rule than the
exception that the residents of a village have the same
lineage (belong to the same clan). Sons usually stay
with their parents even after they get married. The
youngest son is responsible for the well-being of the
parents. The respect for the elderly is great and it is
almost never that parents are placed on the elderly.
Grandparents are also part of the core family and are
considered a source of wisdom and spirituality.
Turkmen often marry in their early twenties. A
wedding has a great social significance and is
characterized by tradition-heavy rituals. The husband's
family pays a bride price, which has traditionally been
a way to redistribute wealth in the nomadic community.
Although marriages are often arranged, especially in
rural areas, most couples know each other in advance and
have given their consent to the marriage. Most seek a
partner with the same social status and education as
themselves, but it is also important that the couple
belong to the same clan.
Turkmenistan is a Muslim country, but women usually
do not wear a veil and do not live in strict privacy,
although they have traditionally usually stayed at home
and taken care of the household. During Soviet atheist
propaganda, women took on the responsibility to uphold
the Muslim customs and rites, thus protecting their
husbands' careers. Many women also entered the
profession during that period.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
39 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
94.5 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
98.7 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
6.3 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 423 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
25 percent (2018)
New gas pipeline to China
A gas pipeline to China is opened for export of natural gas. This reduces
Russia's dominance and control over the supply of Turkmen gas.
A new fleet base is planned
President Berdimuhamedow announces plans to build a naval base in the city of
Türkmenbaşy on the Caspian Sea.
China is increasing gas imports
Turkmenistan agrees with China that China will buy more Turkmen gas than the
two countries previously agreed.
Explosion stops gas export to Russia
A powerful explosion in a gas pipeline in Turkmenistan leads to a conflict
with Russia, as representatives from the two countries blame the accident on
each other. As a result, Russia temporarily halt imports of Turkmen gas.