Turkmenistan, formerly known as Turkmenia, is a sovereign state in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city. The population of the country is 5.6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics.
Turkmenistan possesses the world's sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources. Most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert. Since 1993, citizens have been receiving government-provided electricity, water and natural gas free of charge. According to Human Rights Watch, "Turkmenistan remains one of the world’s most repressive countries. The country is virtually closed to independent scrutiny, media and religious freedoms are subject to draconian restrictions, and human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal."
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