Since the first millennium BCE, Turkmenistan has been part
of the shifting great state formation: the Persian Empire
under Ahemanida and later Alexander the Great. In the 3rd
century AD, Turkmenistan was conquered by the Persian
in it 5-8. century, invasions of Ephthalites, Turks and
Arabs took place. In the 6-8. century the area of the
Caspian Sea was subject to the Arab Caliphate. When this
dissolved, the area in it was 9-10. century subject to the
Tahirids and Samanids states. In the middle of the 11th
century, the Selyucide empire was formed in Turkmenistan,
which was conquered a century later.
During the Selyucid period, Turkmen people were formed
through ethnic mixing of Turks with the local tribes. The
final formation of the Turkmen people culminated in the
14-15. century. In the early 13th century, Turkmenistan was
invaded by the armies of Djenghi Khan, whose successors
divided the country between them. Much of the land was
subjugated to the Hulagide state, while the northern areas
were made vassal areas by the golden hordes of Tartars. In
it 14-15. century, the country was subject to the Timurids,
which was followed by the Uzbek khans. In the 16-18.
century, the land was divided between the khanates of Jiva,
Bukhara and the Iranian state of the Setevids.
In the 1880s, Turkmenistan was conquered by the Russian
army. Most of the territory was incorporated in the
Transcaspic region and the province of Turkestan, while the
areas inhabited by the Turkmen transitioned to Jiva and
Bukhara, who were Russian protectorates.
The Russian invasion of the country encountered fierce
resistance until the Battle of Geok-Tepe in 1881, when the
last rebel groups were defeated. Turkmens took an active
part in the rebellion in 1916 against the Tsarist forced
discharges in the midst of the first world war. The uprising
was most violent in the city of Tedzhen, where a number of
residents and Russian officials were executed by the locals.
With the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, Zarism
collapsed and the formation of Soviets throughout the empire
was encouraged. However, the Transcaspic region remained
under the control of the Russian provincial government.
Following the Bolshevik revolution in November 1917, the
Soviet power was proclaimed - also in Turkmenistan.
In July 1918, a British military expeditionary force
re-established the administration of the Transcaspic
provincial government, but after two years of civil war, the
Soviet power was reinstated in 1920, and on February 14,
1924, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan was
formed, becoming part of the Soviet Union.
Until then, Turkmenistan had never experienced the
nation's political unity. The social organization was based
solely on the tribes, and the majority of the population
lived as nomads. Therefore, industrialization and the
collectivization of agriculture were forms enforced by the
After World War II, considerable economic growth was
recorded, based on the extraction of oil and gas as well as
the growing production of cotton. But during Leonid
Breznhev's reign of 1964-83, political problems worsened and
the economy ran into stagnation. In the republics where the
Soviet power had built up a monoculture - as in Turkmenistan
- agriculture suffered greatly from the economic problems.
From 1985, fundamental changes took place in the Soviet
Union after Mikhail Gorbachov's takeover of power in the
country. Among other things. an Islamic rebirth took place,
was expressed in the building of many new mosques.
Following the failed coup attempt against Gorbachov in
August 1991, the Turkmen Communist Party lost its legitimacy
to rule. Niyázov formulated a proposal on the need for the
state to recapture its supremacy and printed a referendum on
this issue. As early as October, the Republic declared
itself independent and introduced presidential rule. Two
months later, Turkmenistan joined the Association of
Independent States (CIS), the institution that replaced the
Soviet Union. At the same time, the Communist Party changed
its name to the Democratic Party and the new independent
state was recognized internationally.
During the same period, Niyázov - who was previously
chairman of the Turkmen Communist Party - visited Ankara and
Tehran. At the same time, he stated that he placed the
greatest emphasis on developing the country's relations with
Turkey, to which Turkmenistan was, in his view, culturally
most closely linked. In Tehran, he signed trade agreements,
and agreements on joint exploration of natural gas
resources, the construction of a transport network and the
need to integrate the banking systems.