MVP Sustainability Map
GDP Per Capita
David Stanley; License CC BY 2.0; Image https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Karakum_Desert%2C_Turkmenistan.jpg via Wikimedia Commons.
Allan Mustard; License CC BY-SA 4.0; Image https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oil-well-donkeys-Balkan-province-Turkmenistan.jpg via Wikimedia Commons.
Allan Mustard; License CC BY-SA 4.0; Image https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hojagala-Etrek_District-Balkan-Turkmenistan-skyline.jpg via Wikimedia Commons.
The World Bank describes Turkmenistan as having diverse natural conditions including three main types of landscape: deserts, oases and mountains. However, the majority of the territory is desert, the Karakum desert occupies approximately 80 percent of the whole country, and has no rivers or surface water flows. The country is richly endowed with hydrocarbons; and has substantial recoverable natural gas and oil reserves, as well as large potassium, salt deposits, and many other minerals. Cotton and wheat are the country’s principal crops. Excessive irrigation of them has had severe negative consequences for the country’s soils bringing underground salts to the surface and making many areas too saline to cultivate crops any longer. Additionally, heavy use of pesticides and herbicides on the land have contaminated the soils and water supplies downstream.
There is wide disparity in what the government and others proclaim is the country’s current population. Radio Free Europe reports that the rise in migration from Turkmenistan began in 2013-14, which coincided with the onset of the economic crisis in the country. A devastated economy, rampant unemployment, and a repressive authoritarian government are responsible for driving people to live in Russia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. It reports that three officials working on the 2022 census on conditions of anonymity found that the number of citizens may be as much as half of the roughly six million citizens the government proclaims. Although fewer people will lessen pressure on renewable resources, it has come at the alarming expense of plummeting human health, living standards and loss of basic rights and freedoms. (1)