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Ashgabat ( , , , also Ashkhabad in transliteration from Russian or formerly Poltoratsk between 1919-1927) is the capital and largest city of Turkmenistanmarker, a country in Central Asia. It has a population of 695,300 (2001 census estimate), 2009 estimates around 1 million people in Ashgabat, and is situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dagmarker mountain range. Ashgabat has a primarily Turkmen population, with minorities of ethnic Russians, Armenians, and Azeris. It is 250 km from the second largest city in Iranmarker, Mashhadmarker.


Ashgabat is Aşgabat in Turkmen, Ашхабад (Ashkhabad) in Russian, and عشق‌آباد (UniPers: Ešq-âbâd) in Persian. From 1919 until 1927, the city was renamed Poltoratsk after a local revolutionary. Before 1991, the city was usually spelled Ashkhabad in English, a transliteration of the Russian form, which was itself from the original Persian form. It has also been variously spelled Ashkhabat and Ashgabad.

Ashgabat derives from the Persian Ashk (=Arsaces) and ābād (="inhabited place" or "city"), which overall means "the City of Arsaces". A folk etymology suggests that the name is a dialect version of the Arabic-derived Persian word of عشق (eshq meaning "love") and Persian آباد (ābād meaning "inhabited place" or "city", etymologically "abode"), and hence loosely translates as "the city of love" or "the city that love built".


Ashgabat is a relatively young city, growing out of a village of the same name established by Russiansmarker in 1818. It is not far from the site of Nisa, the ancient capital of the Parthians, and it grew on the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala, which was first mentioned as a wine-producing village in 2nd century BCE and was leveled by an earthquake in 1st century BCE (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 CE. After that it survived as a small village until the Russians took over in the 19th century.

In 1869, Russianmarker soldiers built a fortress on a hill near the village, and this added security soon attracted merchants and craftsmen to the area. Ashgabat remained a part of Persiamarker until 1881, when it was ceded to Tsarist Russiamarker under the terms of Akhal Treaty. Russia chose to develop Ashgabat as a regional center due to its proximity to the border of British-influenced Persia. 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 Ashgabat. It was badly damaged in the 1948 earthquake and finally demolished in 1963.

Built in 1999 in Ashgabat a Monument is dedicated to 8th year of Independence of Turkmenistan.
Sovietmarker 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 and in July 1919, when the city was renamed Poltoratsk (Полторацк) after a local revolutionary. The name Ashgabat was restored in 1927 after the establishment of Turkmen SSRmarker as a Soviet republic, though it was usually known by the Russian form Ashkhabad ( ). From this period onward, the city experienced rapid growth and industrialisation, although this was severely disrupted by a major earthquake on October 6, 1948. An estimated 7.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquake killed 110-176,000 (2/3 the population of the city), although the official number announced by Soviet news was only 40,000.

Ashgabat milestones:
  • 1882-1918 – administrative center of Russia's Transcaspian Region
  • 1918-1925 – administrative center of the Turkmen Oblast in Turkestan ASSR
  • since February 1925 – capital of Turkmen SSRmarker
  • since October 1991 – capital of independent Turkmenistan


Ashgabat is primarily a government and administrative center. The principal industries are cotton textiles and metal working. It is a major stop on the Trans-Caspian railway. Every Sunday, the Tolkuchka Bazaar on the suburbs thrives, selling a massive range of commodities.

The city is served by Ashgabat Airportmarker.


The Kopet-Dag mountain range is about to the south, and Ashgabat's northern boundary touches the Kara-Kum desert. Because of this location, Ashgabat has an arid climate with hot and dry summers and mild and short winters. The average high temperature in July is for long periods of time. The highest temperature on record is . Nighttime temperatures in the summer are warm, with an average minimum temperature in the summer of . Average winter high temperatures range from , and average lows in the winter of ; temperatures as low as have been recorded in December. Snow is rare. Annual precipitation is only ; March and April are the wettest months.

Notable buildings

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. Large mosques include the Azadi Mosque (which resembles the Blue Mosquemarker in Istanbulmarker), the Khezrety Omar Mosque, and the futuristic Iranianmarker Mosque. Ashgabat is also home to the Arch of Neutralitymarker, which is a large tripod on which there is a golden statue of former President Saparmurat Niyazov (also known as Turkmenbashi, or leader of all Turkmen). This statue rotates in order to always face the sun during daylight hours. It is said to be made of pure gold.

Notable universities include the Turkmen Polytechnic Institute.


Image:IndependenceMonumentAshgabat.jpg|Independence and Peace MonumentImage:PresidentialPalaceAshgabat.jpg|Türkmenbaşy PalacemarkerImage:ExhibitionCenterAshgabat.jpg|Ashgabat Exhibition CenterImage:AkBugdayMuseum.jpg|Ak Bugdaý (White Wheat) Museum, Anaumarker

Image:AshgabatAssembly.jpg|Turkmen Parliament (Mejlis) buildingImage:Ashgabat SPOT 1090.jpg|Ashgabat: satellite photoImage:Walk of health overview.jpg|The longer walk of health, viewed from the shorter route

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