Turkmenistan is one of just two Stalinist states left – the other is North Korea. Between independence in 1991 and his death in 2006 it was ruled by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov. He imposed a cult of personality which is very slowly being dismantled by his successor. The capital, Ashgabat, has a 15-metre tall golden statue of him that rotates to face the sun. There are many grand buildings, including the National Museum and shrines throughout the sparsely populated country.

Crime is rare and a curfew prevents people from being out after 11pm. The Karakum Desert occupies 80% of the country. The Darvaza Crater in the desert is commonly called 'The Door to Hell' due to the gas fire that has burned in it for 40 years.



Why you should go:

You want to visit a Stalinist state while one still exists.

Why you shouldn't:

You refuse to visit a police state.

Map of Turkmenistan