Turkmenistan is actually a Central Asian country covered by the Karakum Desert. It is surrounded by the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan and Iran, and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the east, north, and south. The country is famous for archaeological ruins, which include those at Merv and Nisa. In the mid-20th century, the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, was renovated in the Soviet-style, filled with outstanding monuments in honor of former president Saparmurat Niyazov.
Turkmenistan has a small population of about 5.4 million citizens with three ethnic groups: Turkmens, Russians, and Uzbeks. The inhabitants' languages are Turkmen, the official language, and Russian, an inter-ethnic language.