Ashgabat (Turkmen: Aşgabat, pronounced [ɑʃʁɑˈbɑt][2]) — formerly named Poltoratsk (Russian: Полтора́цк, IPA: [pəltɐˈratsk]) between 1919 and 1927, is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan. It is situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range in Central Asia.


Aşgabat/Ашгабат (in Turkmen)

Poltoratsk (1919–1927)


Location of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan
Ashgabat (Asia)
Coordinates: 37°56′N 58°22′E
Country Turkmenistan
  MayorShamuhammet Durdylyýew[1]
  Total440 km2 (170 sq mi)
219 m (719 ft)
  Density2,300/km2 (6,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+05:00
  Summer (DST)UTC+05:00 (not observed)
Postal code
Area code(s)(+993) 12
Vehicle registrationAG

The city was founded in 1881, and made the city of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924. Much of the city was destroyed by the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake but has since seen extensive renovation under President Saparmurat Niyazov's urban renewal project.[3] The Karakum Canal runs through the city, carrying waters from the Amu Darya from east to west.[4]


Ashgabat is called Aşgabat in Turkmen, (Russian: Ашхабад, romanized: Ashkhabad) in Russian from 1925 to 1991, and Ešq-ābād (عشق‌آباد) in Persian. Before 1991, the city was usually spelled Ashkhabad in English, a transliteration of the Russian form. It has also been variously spelled Ashkhabat and Ashgabad. From 1919 until 1927, the city was renamed Poltoratsk after a local revolutionary, Pavel Gerasimovich Poltoratskiy.[5]

Although the name literally means "city of love" or "city of devotion" in modern Persian, the name might be modified through folk etymology. Turkmen historian Ovez Gundogdiyev believes that the name goes back to the Parthian era, 3rd century BC, deriving from the name of the founder of the Parthian Empire, Arsaces I of Parthia, in Persian Ashk-Abad (the city of Ashk/Arsaces).[6]


Ashgabat is a relatively young city, having been founded in 1881 as a fortification and named after the nearby settlement of Askhabad (see above for the etymology).[7] Located not far from the site of Nisa, the ancient capital of the Parthian Empire, it grew on the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala, first mentioned as a wine-producing village in the 2nd century BC and leveled by an earthquake in the 1st century BC (a precursor of the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake). Konjikala was rebuilt because of its advantageous location on the Silk Road and it flourished until its destruction by Mongols in the 13th century. After that it survived as a small village until Russians took over in the 19th century.[8][9]

A part of Persia until the Battle of Geok Tepe, Askhabad was ceded to the Russian Empire under the terms of the Akhal Treaty. Russia developed the area as it was close to the border of British-influenced Persia, and the population grew from 2,500 in 1881 to 19,428 (of whom one third were Persian) in 1897.[10] It was regarded as a pleasant town with European style buildings, shops, and hotels. In 1908, the first Bahá'í House of Worship was built in Askhabat. It was badly damaged in the 1948 earthquake and finally demolished in 1963.[11] The community of the Bahá'í Faith in Turkmenistan was largely based in Ashgabat.

Soviet rule was established in Ashgabat in December 1917. However, in July 1918, a coalition of Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries, and Tsarist former officers of the Imperial Russian Army revolted against the Bolshevik rule emanating from Tashkent and established the Ashkhabad Executive Committee. After receiving some support (but even more promises) from General Malleson, the British withdrew in April 1919 and the Tashkent Soviet resumed control of the city.

In 1919, the city was renamed Poltoratsk (Полторацк), after Pavel Poltoratskiy, the Chairman of the Soviet of National Economy of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.[7][12] When the Turkmen SSR was established in 1924, Poltoratsk became its capital. The original name (in the form of "Ashkhabad") was restored in 1927.[7] From this period onward, the city experienced rapid growth and industrialisation, although severely disrupted by a major earthquake on October 6, 1948. An estimated 7.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake killed 110–176,000[13][14][15][16] (⅔ of the population of the city), although the official number announced by Soviet news was only 40,000.[17]

In July 2003, street names in Ashgabat were replaced by serial numbers except for nine major highways, some named after Saparmurat Niyazov, his father, and his mother. The Presidential Palace Square was designated 2000 to symbolize the beginning of the 21st century. The rest of the streets were assigned larger or smaller four-digit numerical names. Following Niyazov's death in 2006, Soviet-era street names were restored, though in the years since, many of them have been replaced with names honoring Turkmen scholars, poets, military heroes, and figures from art and culture.[18]

In 2013, the city was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's highest concentration of white marble buildings.[19]

Ashgabat milestones:[20]


See also Map of the Boroughs of Ashgabat

As of January 5, 2018, Ashgabat includes four boroughs (uly etraplar):[21][22][23][24][25][26]

  1. Bagtyýarlyk etraby (formerly President Niyazov, Lenin District, expanded to include former Ruhabat District plus new territory)
  2. Berkararlyk etraby (formerly Azatlyk, Sovetskiy District)
  3. Büzmeýin etraby (formerly Abadan District, expanded to include former Arçabil and Çandybil Districts)
  4. Köpetdag etraby (formerly Proletarskiy District)

This is a reduction from the previous number of boroughs. Arçabil and Çandybil boroughs were merged on February 4, 2015, and the new etrap, named Arçabil, was in turn renamed Büzmeýin in January 2018. At that time the Abadan borough of Ashgabat, created in 2013 by annexing the town of Abadan and surrounding villages to Abadan's south, was abolished and its territory was merged into the newly renamed Büzmeýin borough. The former Ruhabat borough was abolished at the same time and its territory absorbed by Bagtyýarlyk borough.[27]


According to estimates of the 2012 Turkmen census the Turkmen form 85% of the city's population. Russians form 7.7% of the population, followed by Armenians (1.5%), Turks (1.1%), Uzbeks (1.1%), and Azeris (1%).[28]


First Baha'i Temple in the world

When Ashgabat was under Russian rule, the number of Bahá'ís in the city rose to over 1,000, and a Bahá'í community was established, with its own schools, medical facilities and cemetery. The community elected one of the first Bahá'í local administrative institutions. In 1908 the Bahá'í community completed the construction of the first Bahá'í House of Worship, sometimes referred to by its Arabic name of mašriqu-l-'aḏkār (Arabic: مشرق اﻻذكار),[29] where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions.[30] The building was designed under the guidance of `Abdu'l-Bahá by Ustad' Ali-Akbar Banna Yazdi who also wrote a history of the Baha'is in Ashgabat.[31][32]

The House of Worship itself was surrounded by gardens, with four buildings at the four corners of the gardens: a school, a hostel where travelling Bahá'ís were entertained, a small hospital, and a building for groundskeepers.[32]

Under the Soviet policy towards religion, the Bahá'ís, strictly adhering to their principle of obedience to legal government, abandoned these properties in 1928.[33] For the decade from 1938 to 1948, when it was seriously damaged by the earthquake, it was an art gallery. It was demolished in 1963.[30]

After 1991

After exiting the Soviet Union, the city gained many high-rise residential buildings. Modern construction techniques allow high-rise development (mainly 12 storeys) with relatively good protection against earthquakes. Primarily consisting of residential towers, the first floor is typically given a shopping area and a service department. Many of the buildings are made of white marble. The Arch of Neutrality was dismantled and re-erected in its original form in the south of the capital. Turkmenistan Tower, at a height of 211 meters, is the tallest building in the country.

Ashgabat is primarily a government and administrative centre. The business centre of Ashgabat is on the Archabil highway. Construction of several ministries and departments, teaching and research and cultural centres is complete. Development of office buildings and public spaces along the avenue continues.[34]

Panorama of Ashgabat


The principal industries are cotton textiles and metal working. It is a major stop on the Trans-Caspian railway. A large percentage of the employment in Ashgabat is provided by the state institutions; such as the ministries, undersecretariats, and other administrative bodies of the Turkmenistan government. There are also many foreign citizens working as diplomats or clerks in the embassies of their respective countries. Ashgabat lends its name to the Ashgabat agreement, signed by India, Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.[35]


More than 43 large and 128 medium-sized industrial enterprises along with over 1,700 small industrial facilities are located in Ashgabat and its suburbs.[36] The most important are “Ashneftemash”, “Turkmenkabel”, “Turkmenbashi Textile Complex” etc.[37]


Altyn Asyr Bazaar in Choganly has for sale many items, including traditional fabrics and hand-woven carpets. Modern shopping areas are mostly in central streets, including the modern Berkarar mall and Paýtagt and Aşgabat shopping centres.[38] The local residents like traditional bazaars: Russian bazaar, Teke bazaar, Daşoguz bazaar, Mir bazaar, Jennet bazaar, etc. The Turkish-owned Yimpas department store closed as of December 2016.[39]


The city is served by the Ashgabat International Airport. Turkmenistan Airlines has its headquarters in the city.[40] Ashgabat offers air service to and from all the major cities of the Turkmenistan, as well as some destinations in Asia and Europe. Ashgabat is served by the following foreign airlines: Belavia, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, S7 Airlines, flydubai, China Southern Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways.

The Trans-Caspian Railway (TurkmenbashiBalkanabatBereket–Ashgabat–MaryTürkmenabat) runs through Ashgabat from east to west. Since 2006 there is also a train line from Ashgabat to the north, the Trans-Karakum Railway. In May 2009 the restoration of the Ashgabat railway station was completed.

In Ashgabat, there are two intercity bus stations, one located near the Teke Bazaar, the second at the old airport. There are daily buses to Archman, Dashoguz and Turkmenabat. The new International Passenger Bus Terminal of Ashgabat was inaugurated on September 5, 2014.[41][42]

Public transport in the city consists mainly of buses. More than 60 bus lines cover a total range of more than 2,230 kilometres (1,386 miles) with 700 buses running on urban routes. Currently the city primarily uses Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai buses.[43] Bus timetables and detailed schematic map of the route are at every stop. Distances between stops are about 300–500 meters. From 19 October 1964 to 31 December 2011 the city also had the Ashgabat trolleybus system. At the beginning of the twentieth century narrow-gauge railway operated by steam-power, connecting the city with the suburbs Firyuza.

On 18 October 2006, the Ashgabat Cable Car opened, connecting the city with the foothills of the Kopetdag.[44]

Ashgabat Monorail commenced service in 2016, becoming the first monorail in the Central Asia region.[45] It circulates exclusively on the territory of the Olympic Village (Turkmen: Olimpiýa şäherçesi).

In January 2018, it was reported that black cars had been impounded for weeks in Ashgabat, a result of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's conviction that black cars bring bad luck.[46]

Science and education

Ashgabat is the most important educational center of Turkmenistan with a large number of institutions of higher education. Turkmen State University was founded in 1950. The main university building is located on Beýik Saparmyrat Türkmenbaşy şaýoly. Turkmen State Medical University is situated in Ashgabat as well. It is subordinate to the Ministry of Health and Pharmaceutical Industry of Turkmenistan. Other prominent institutions are the Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management, a main business school founded in 1980, as well as the Turkmen State Institute of Architecture and Construction and The National Institute of Sports and Tourism of Turkmenistan. In 2016, the English- and Japanese-medium Oguzhan Engineering Technology University was opened with support of the Japanese government. The International University of Humanities and Development is another English-medium institution of higher education.

The Turkmen Academy of Sciences is based in Ashgabat.


Ashgabat is very proximite to the border with Iran.[47]


The Kopet-Dag mountain range is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) to the south, and Ashgabat's northern boundary touches the Kara-Kum desert. Because of this Ashgabat has a cold desert climate (Köppen climate classification: BWk) with hot, dry summers and cool, short winters. The average high temperature in July is 38.3 °C (100.9 °F). Nighttimes in the summer are warm, with an average minimum temperature in July of 23.8 °C (75 °F). The average January high temperature is 8.6 °C (47.5 °F), and the average low temperature is −0.4 °C (31.3 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in Ashgabat is 47.2 °C (117 °F), recorded in June 2015.[48] A low temperature of −24.1 °C (−11 °F) was recorded in January 1969.[48] Snow is infrequent in the area. Annual precipitation is only 201 millimetres (7.91 in); March and April are the wettest months, and summer drought, from late June to September, is virtually absolute.

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Climate data for Ashgabat
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 28.7
Average high °C (°F) 8.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.5
Average low °C (°F) −0.4
Record low °C (°F) −24.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 20
Average rainy days 9 9 13 12 10 5 3 2 3 6 8 10 90
Average snowy days 5 5 1 0.03 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 1 3 15
Average relative humidity (%) 78 72 66 58 47 35 34 34 40 54 68 77 55
Mean monthly sunshine hours 112.7 119.4 146.2 194.4 275.1 335.5 353.8 348.1 289.2 216.8 157.2 104.4 2,652.8
Source #1:[49]
Source #2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)[50]

Main sights

Museums include the Turkmen Fine Arts Museum and Turkmen Carpet Museum, noted for their impressive collection of woven carpets as well as a Turkmen history museum and the Ashgabat National Museum of History, which displays artifacts dating back to the Parthian and Persian civilizations. The Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan is an important institute of higher learning. Ashgabat was also home to the Arch of Neutrality, a 75 m (250 ft) tall tripod crowned by a golden statue of late president Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi, or leader of all Turkmen). The 15 m (50 ft) high statue, which rotated in order to always face the sun during daylight hours, was removed on August 26, 2010 after Niyazov's successor, current President Berdimuhamedov, made it clear earlier in the year that the statue was going to be taken out of Ashgabat's parliament square.[51] In 2011 a Monument to the Constitution was built, its total height of 185 m (607 ft) makes it the second tallest building in Turkmenistan.[52]

Alem Cultural and Entertainment Center was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's tallest Ferris wheel in an enclosed space.[53] The Ashgabat Flagpole is the fourth tallest free-standing flagpole in the world, standing at 436 ft (133 m) tall. The Ashgabat Fountain has the world's greatest number of fountain pools in a public place.[54][55] Ashgabat also features Turkmenistan Tower which is the tallest tower in Turkmenistan, the decorative octagonal Star of Oguzkhan is recognized as the world's largest architectural image of the star and entered in the Guinness World Records.[56]



Parks and squares

Ashgabat has many parks and open spaces, mainly established in the early years of the Independence and well maintained and expanded thereafter. The most important of these parks are: the Botanical Garden, Güneş, Turkmen-Turkish friendship, Independence. The oldest city park, Ashgabat, was founded in 1887 and is colloquially known as First Park.[58] In the center of Ashgabat is the Inspiration Alley, an art-park complex which is a favorite place for many locals. The amusement park World of Turkmenbashi Tales is a local equivalent to Disneyland. Squares: 10 Years of Turkmenistan Independence, Magtymguly, Eternal Flame, Zelili, Chyrchyk, Garashsyzlyk, March 8, Gerogly, Dolphin, 15 years of Independence, Ruhyýet, 10 ýyl Abadançylyk.[59]

Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex

Halk Hakydasy Memorial Complex was opened in 2014 in remembrance of those killed in the Battle of Geok Tepe in 1881, during World War II, and to commemorate of the victims of the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake. It is located in the southwestern part of the city on Bekrewe köçesi.[60][61]


Ashgabat has four cinemas. In 2011, Aşgabat Cinema, the first 3-D cinema in Turkmenistan, opened in Ashgabat.[62] The Watan and Turkmenistan theaters were reconstructed. Another cinema is located in the Berkarar Mall.




The main sporting venues in Ashgabat are the Olympic Stadium, Ashgabat Stadium, the National Olympic ice rink, Sports complex for winter sports and the Olympic water sports complex.

Ashgabat was chosen as the host city of the V Asian Indoor Games and Martial Arts,[64] and was also the first city in Central Asia to host the Asian Indoor Games. Between 2010 and 2017 an Olympic Village was built south of the city center, at a cost of $5 billion.

Ashgabat was the host of the 2018 IWF World Weightlifting Championships.

The city's professional football clubs Altyn Asyr, FC Ashgabat, HTTU Aşgabat and FC Hazyna play in the Ýokary Liga, the top league of Turkmenistan.

International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Ashgabat is twinned with:


See also



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