Located in central Asia, Turkmenistan shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Turkmenistan also has a western coastline on the Caspian Sea. 80% of the land is desert.
Population: 5.2 million
Ethnic Groups: Turkmen (85%), Uzbek (5%), Russian (4%), Other (6%)
Languages: Turkmen (Official) (72%), Russian (12%), Uzbek (9%), Other (7%)
Religions: Muslim (89%), Eastern Orthodox (9%), Unknown (2%)
CIA: The World Factbook - Last Updated July 12, 2017
In Canada: 1,045
In the GTA: 405
In Toronto: 200
Turkmens have had a nomadic tribal past, but when it was made part of the Soviet Union, their property was confiscated and traditions eliminated. Turkmenistan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1992 and elected a new president in 2007 when the Communist leader died. This change provides hope that Turkmenistan will finally be able to repair its healthcare system and infrastructure, and that it will become a more open country. Although the constitution guarantees religious freedom, the reality is completely different. Sunni Islam and Russian Orthodoxy are the only two legal religions. Gatherings of other religious groups (including other forms of Islam) are forbidden, and many mosques have been shut down in the last fifteen years or so for operating without approval from the state.