Sat, May 20, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Globe trotting 世界走透透 --- Turkmenistan 土庫曼

Once a part of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan became an independent country with the Soviet breakup in 1991. However, over the past 15 years, Turkmenistan has been slow to move away from its authoritarian past. Take a look below and see why living under Turkmenistan's post-Soviet government can be challenging, unpredictable and sometimes just bizzare.

Taipei Times 台北時報

A statue of President Niyazov stands in Ashgabat.佇立在土庫曼首都阿什哈巴特的尼亞佐夫總統雕像。照片:法新社


A closer look 說古論今

Turkmens have always been nomads. Each group of nomads has its own dialect, clothing and religious beliefs. They are famous for the rugs that they make, which for some people provide a large portion of the family income. Like the customs of the nomadic groups, the rugs vary depending on which group made them. Perhaps one of the few common traits among all the people of Turkmenistan is that although the official language is Turkmen, almost everyone speaks Russian, even people far removed from the cities. Russian is useful for communication between groups that speak different dialects.

Life in Turkmenistan can be difficult. The people have traditionally lived in the country's deserts, and have been reluctant to move to the cities. Turkmenistan has large natural gas and oil resources, but during the 1990s it was forced to concentrate on exporting cotton because Russia would not help export the gas. Today, 50 percent of the land that can be used for farming in Turkmenistan is planted with cotton.

Life outside the cities was made even harder in February of 2005 when Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, decided to close all the hospitals in the country outside of the capital, Ashgabat. He said that if anybody became sick, he or she could just come to the capital. He also ordered that all public libraries outside of the cities be closed, saying that people in rural areas don't read. In 1999, he was named president for life.   (Taipei Times)



About Turkmenistan 國家概況

Size: 488,100km2, more than 13 times the size of Taiwan

Location: Central Asia

Border countries: Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan

Capital: Ashgabat

Population: 5,042,920

Languages: Turkmen, Russian, Uzbek

Government: Authoritarian presidential rule

Currency: NT$1 is about 155 Turkmen manat









二○○五年二月,土庫曼總統尼亞佐夫決定關閉首都阿什哈巴特以外的所有醫院,讓城市外的生活更加困難。他表示,假如有人生病,只要到首都就醫即可。他認為鄉村地區的人民並不閱讀,下令城市以外的公立圖書館關門。一九九九年,尼亞佐夫被任命為終身職的總統。 (翻譯:賴美君)

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