Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic which was part of the GUS since 1991 and has become more independent in 2005 and is now called associate member. Located in Central Asia, at the former southern border of the USSR, it is surrounded by Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. To the west it has a coast at the Caspian Sea. The name Turmenistan is derived from the Persian "land of the Turkmen".
Most of Turkmenistan is covered by the Karakum Desert to the east and by the also arid Turan Depression to the west. Most of the country is flat and low, but mountain ranges like the Kopet Dag Range along the southwestern border reach 3,000 meters above sea level. Rivers from the mountains allow irrigation of arid flats and the growth of cotton, which unfortunately is one of the reasons the Caspian Sea is drying out.
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