Meaning of TURKMENISTAN, FLAG OF in English

national flag consisting of a green field (background) with a white crescent and five stars; near the hoist a claret (Bordeaux-red) stripe bears five carpet patterns and an olive wreath. The flag's width-to-length ratio is 1 to 2. Flag of Turkmenistan (199297). The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, as the country was known under the communist system, adopted a version of the Soviet Red Banner in 1953 that included two horizontal light blue stripes. Following its proclamation of independence on October 27, 1991, Turkmenistan sought a new flag design, which was eventually introduced on February 19, 1992. The most striking part of the new flag is the vertical stripe of Bordeaux red on which there is an elaborate design composed of five carpet guls (motifs), respectively associated with the Salor, Tekke, Saryk, Yomut, and Chaudor tribes. The traditional patterns have for centuries been woven into the rich carpets for which the Turkmen are famous. Even in the Soviet era, the Turkmen coat of arms included a carpet. The background of the Turkmen flag is green, a symbol of the Islamic religion. Its white crescent stands for faith in a bright future. The five stars are for the five senses, and the five points on each star are for different states of matter (liquid, solid, gas, crystal, and plasma). On February 19, 1997, the Turkmen flag was slightly modified. As a symbol of the country's neutrality in international relations, a golden olive wreath similar to the one in the United Nations flag was added below the guls on the vertical stripe. Whitney Smith History It is possible to follow the development of human habitats in southern Turkmenistan from Paleolithic times to the present. Some of the earliest traces of agriculture in Central Asia were discovered some 20 miles (32 kilometres) north of Ashgabat in the Neolithic Jeitun civilization, which may be dated to the 5th millennium BC. The Jeitun civilization was followed by a series of other Neolithic cultures, and a cultural unification of southern Turkmenistan occurred in the Early Bronze Age (25002000 BC). During the course of the following half millennium, some urban centres were created; the ruins of Namazga-Tepe cover approximately 145 acres (60 hectares). From about the mid-3rd century BC to the Sasanian conquest in the 4th century AD, Turkmenistan formed part of the Parthian empire. Into this land came, probably in the 11th century, the Turkmens, strangers as it were, with no links to any previous civilization of the region. Contemporary historians did not distinguish them from the Oguz (Oghuz or Ghuz), a loose confederation of Turkic tribes present in the region since the 9th century. Turkmens came under the rule of the Seljuq dynasty (10381194) of Oguz tribes, and they weathered the Mongol invasions (13th century) quite well; the southern tribes became part of the Il-Khanid empire, and the northern tribes belonged to the Golden Horde. One of the Turkmens' principal occupations for centuries after the decline of Mongol rule was robbing passing caravans. Until 1924 the Turkmens never experienced even nominal political unity. Their organization was exclusively tribal, and the tribes were either nomadic and independent or subject to neighbouring Persia or to the khanates of Khiva and Bukhara. During the 16th and 17th centuries the Chaudor tribe led a powerful tribal union in the north, while the Salor tribe was dominant in the south. During the 17th and 18th centuries the ascendancy passed to the Yomuts, Tekkes, Ersaris, and Saryks, who began to move out of the desert into the oases of Khorezm and to the Atrek, Tejen, and Morghab rivers and to adopt a settled way of life. There was bitter rivalry among the tribes, particularly between the Tekke and Yomut, while the Goklans, inhabiting part of the Khiva oasis, were opposed to both. Thus, while the Tekkes were the principal opponents of the Russian invasion in the 1860s and '70s, the other tribes either failed to support them or helped the Russians. The first notable Russian expedition under Prince Aleksandr Bekovich-Cherkasski in 1717 met with failure; however, in 1869 a Russian military force landed on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea and founded the port of Krasnovodsk (now Trkmenbashy). In 1874 the Transcaspian military district was established, and in 1881 this district became the Transcaspian province, which in 1899 was made part of the governorate-general of Turkistan. There was fierce resistance to Russian encroachment, but this was finally broken by General Mikhail Dimitrievich Skobelev at the Battle of Gk-Tepe (now Gkdepe) in 1881. The Turkmens took an active part in the revolt of 1916 against Russian rule, particularly in the town of Tejen, where many Russian settlers and officials were murdered. After the Russian Revolution, during the Civil War (191820), Turkmenistan was the scene of sporadic fighting between the Social Revolutionary Transcaspian Provincial Government and the Bolshevik troops trying to penetrate from Tashkent. The Social Revolutionaries were for a time supported by a small British force of 1,200 men with its headquarters in northeastern Iran. The British force was withdrawn in April 1919, and Red troops captured Ashgabat in July 1919 and Krasnovodsk in February 1920. Bolshevik rule was thereafter established. Until 1924 the Transcaspian (after 1921 called the Turkmen) province formed part of the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, while the remaining districts of Turkmenistan were embodied in the Bukharan and Khorezmian Soviet Socialist republics formed in 1920. The Turkmen S.S.R. was formed in 1924 out of the Turkmen province, together with the Turkmen rayony (sectors) of the former Khorezmian Republic (Tashauz [now Dashhowuz], Takhta [now Tagta], Ilyata, Kunya-Urgench, and Porsa) and of the Bukhara Republic (Chardzhou, now Chrjew, Kerki, and part of Sherabad). It formally became one of the U.S.S.R.'s constituent republics in 1925. During the Soviet period Turkmenistan benefited from educational and health care modernization but experienced political repression. The republic declared independence on Oct. 27, 1991, and adopted the name Turkmenistan. Under the dictatorial rule of Saparmurad Niyazov, a corrupt regime failed in the early years of independence to improve the quality of life for the population, despite the interest of foreign investors in Turkmenistan's natural gas resources. Denis Sinor The economy Turkmenistan specializes in cotton growing and in the extraction of oil and natural gas. Turkmenistan's underground resources in the western plain and those underwater along the Caspian Sea include extensive reserves of oil and natural gas, as well as deposits of mirabilite, iodine, bromine, sulfur, potassium, and salt. The mountains and foothills contain dolomites and marl, which are used for fertilizing calcium-deficient soil. Agriculture The cultivation of fine-staple cotton and the raising of Karakul sheep, horses, and camels contribute most to the agricultural economy. The Karakul breed accounts for seventh-tenths of all sheep in the republic. There are several prized varieties of Karakul pelts: the glistening black arabi, the golden sur, and the silver-gray shirazi. The Akhal Teke and Yomut breeds of horses deserve their fame as handsome, fleet animals with great endurance. Arabian dromedary (one-humped) camels are indispensable in desert areas for transporting sheepherders, for drawing water from deep desert wells, and as a source of wool, milk, and meat. Turkmenistan leads Central Asia as a producer of silkworm cocoons, primarily from the middle Amu Darya oasis. The lower Amu Darya oasis, lying in the Amu Darya delta, long supported one of the most important agricultural zones in Turkmenistan. The warm climate there grows medium-staple cotton, alfalfa (lucerne), sweet sorghum, beans, kenaf, sesame, grapes, vegetables, and melons, and nurtures cattle and silkworms. Serious problems, however, threaten the prosperity of this region. The disastrous decline in the Amu Darya's outflow, the effects of extreme pollution from pesticide and chemical runoff, and soil and water salinization resulting from the desiccation and shrinkage of the Aral Sea threaten to ruin the Amu Darya delta as an agricultural producer for Turkmenistan. In less-populated western Turkmenistan, people raise sheep, goats, and camels and cultivate some grain and melons. In the south, near Tejen, lies the Badkhyz Nature Reserve with its pistachio woodlands. Pistachios also grow in the Gushgy district, watered by a tributary of the Morghab River, at Turkmenistan's southernmost point. The land Relief Deserts occupy nine-tenths of Turkmenistan's territory. The Karakum is one of the world's largest sand deserts, taking up the entire central part of Turkmenistan and extending northwest into Kazakstan. Topographically, four-fifths of Turkmenistan consists of the southern part of the Turan Plain. Mountains and foothills rise mainly in the southern part of the republic, the Kugitangtau and Kopet-Dag ranges being spurs of the Pamir-Alay mountain ranges. The Kopet-Dag is geologically young, its instability indicated by intermittent earthquakes of great destructive force. The people The Turkmens are a Muslim people who speak a language belonging to the southwestern, or Oguz, branch of the Turkic linguistic group. Turkmens make up some three-fourths of the republic's population, up from about two-thirds in 1970, owing largely to a relatively high birth rate. There are smaller numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Kazaks, and Tatars. The population is distributed unevenly, with few people in the Karakum Desert and mountain regions but large numbers in the oases. With the development of the Turkmenistan economy during the Soviet period, many non-Turkmen skilled workers and scientific and technical intelligentsia immigrated to the republic. About two-thirds of the ethnic Turkmen population lives in rural settlements and villages. The urban population consists mainly of outsiders, those from Russia being concentrated in the principal urban centres. For centuries the Turkmens were divided into numerous tribes and clans, the largest being the Tekke, Ersari, and Yomut. Prior to the Russian Revolution most of the Turkmens were pastoral nomads, though during the 18th and 19th centuries many had settled in the oases and become agriculturalists. Their tribal organizations and loyalties were strong. They had always been warlike and had commonly hired themselves out as mercenaries to various rulers in Central Asia and Iran. Turkmenistan's incorporation into the Soviet Union had the effect of bringing greater unity to the Turkmen tribes and of giving them the beginning of a sense of nationhood.

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