The most curious of the Central Asian republics, Turkmenistan is the second largest Central Asian country, with most of it occupied by the lunar-like desert called the Karakum. The country is sparsely populated and its people, the Turkmen, are only a generation or two removed from being nomads. Turkmenistan is as much a culture as a country since the Turkmen had never formed a real nation and allowed their cities to become predominantly populated by other peoples. They place most esteem on a rural life revolving around their famous, traditionally patterned carpets, their ceremonies, hospitality and fleet Akhal-Teke horses..
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