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Long-eared Owl Asio otus ©Nigel Blake Website

Turkmenistan, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR). It is bordered by Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the southwest, Uzbekistan to the northeast, Kazakhstan to the northwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. The name Turkmenistan derives from Persian, meaning 'land of the Turkmen'. The name of its capital, Ashgabat, means 'the City of Arsaces' in Persian. It also loosely translates as 'the city of love' or 'the city that love built', derived in folk etymology from the Arabic ishq for 'love' with the Persian suffix abad for 'inhabited' or 'built'.

Although it is wealthy in natural resources in certain areas, most of the country is covered by the Karakum (Black Sands) Desert.

At 488,100 km2 (188,500 sq mi), Turkmenistan is the world's 52nd-largest country. It is slightly smaller than Spain and somewhat larger than the US state of California.

Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression and the Karakum Desert. The Kopet Dag Range, along the southwestern border, reaches 2,912 meters (9,553 ft) at Kuh-e Rizeh (Mount Rizeh). The Great Balkhan Range in the west of the country (Balkan Province) and the Kugitangtau Range on the south-eastern border with Uzbekistan (Lebap Province) are the only other significant elevations. The Great Balkhan Range rises to 1,880 metres (6,200 ft) at Mount Arlan[14] and the highest summit in Turkmenistan is Ayrybaba in the Kugitangtau Range – 3,137 metres (10,290 ft). Rivers include the Amu Darya, the Murghab, and the Tejen.

The climate is mostly arid subtropical desert, with little rainfall. Winters are mild and dry, with most precipitation falling between January and May. The area of the country with the heaviest precipitation is the Kopet Dag Range.

The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea is 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) long. The Caspian Sea is entirely landlocked, with no access to the ocean.

The major cities include Ashkhabad, Türkmenbaşy (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Daşoguz.



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Number of Species

Number of bird species: 400


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Useful Reading

* Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering Asia as a whole - please see the Asia page of Fatbirder

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia

Craig Robson Hardcover - 504 pages ( 1 February, 2000) New Holland Publishers (UK)

ISBN: 1843307464

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Central Asia

Birds of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan
By Raffael Ayé, Manuel Schweizer & Tobias Roth with contributions from Arend Wassink, illustrated by Dave Nurney , Per Alström, Adam Bowley, Carl D'Silva, Kim Franklin, John Gale, Alan Harris, Ren Hathway, Christopher Schmidt, Brian Small, Jan Wilczur, Tim Worfolk & MartWoodcock | Christopher Helm | Paperback | Oct 2012 | 336 pages | 141 plates with colour illustrations | 14 colour photos | 5 black & white illustrations | 3 colour maps | colour distribution maps
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9780713670387

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Trip Reports

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Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2013 [06 June] - Mark Van Beirs - Kazakhstan, Turkestan & Uzbekistan

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…That magnificent Himalayan Snowcock walking amongst patches of snow, those multiple, extremely attractive male White-tailed Rubythroats singing their hearts out from the top of juniper bushes, those five playful, so endearing, young Marbled Polecats exploring the Taukum desert, those immaculate, fluffy Azure Tits foraging only metres away in a seeding willow, that unique Ibisbill feeding in its mountain stream, those superbly elegant Demoiselle Cranes and that rare Sociable Lapwing in the rippling feather steppes and the incredible sight of 60,000 Red-necked Phalaropes in breeding plumage dotted like midges over a huge lake were the unforgettable highlights of our Central Asian adventure…

Other Links

Turkmenistan IBAs


The Repetek IBA is situated in the central part of the East Karakum. Typical features of the relief are large-ridge sands with barchan massifs and valley depressions. Large ridges have a meridional and submeridional direction…