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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 6,010 7,672 4,000 110
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,120 1,200 950 131
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Turkmenistan


Update No: 355 - (25/07/10)

To start on indeed a startling note, the Turkmens, if the following is to be believed, have entered the ranks of the blessed:-

Turkmenistan joins the world's twenty happiest countries
According to the Gallup World Poll, Turkmenistan joined the world's top twenty happiest countries, leaving behind the CIS countries, as well as Germany, France and Japan. Turkmenistan has taken the 18th place, next to Great Britain, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

Researchers of the Gallup surveyed thousands of respondents in 155 countries, between 2005 and 2009. They asked subjects to reflect on their overall satisfaction with their lives, and asked questions about how each subject had felt the previous day. Other than this, respondents were asked to rate if they felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged.

According to Forbes, 52 percent of respondents surveyed in Turkmenistan admitted that they were totally happy, and only one percent of respondents said that they suffered. Denmark is on top of the happiest countries, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Well, well. This is good news indeed. It would be interesting to know the principle of choosing the representative sample and whether it was vetted by the Turkmen authorities first.

No exit from paradise
Turkmenistan has a large minority of Russians, fewer than 10% of the population, but amongst the best educated, with valuable skills at the nation's disposal. They actually predominate in certain professions.

There has been a seepage of them out of the country of late, as they migrate to Russia or Kazakhstan, both doing better economically than itself, especially the latter. But naturally they wish to retain the right to return to Turkmenistan where they have many family and other ties.

Turkmenistan has long refused to recognise dual nationality, but a recent clear statement reinforcing this position is likely to mean worse times ahead for people with a second, Russian passport.

The Turkmen foreign ministry issued a statement on July 7 saying that the constitution made no provision for dual nationality. This restatement of the position was necessary, the ministry said, because “in recent days certain media have carried reports about people with so-called ‘dual nationality’ crossing the Turkmen border”.

That in itself was a remarkable admission, since the “certain media” referred to are run by the Turkmen opposition in exile, and are normally treated with a stony silence by the authorities.

Earlier in July, the website reported that Turkmenistan nationals who also held Russian citizenship were not being allowed to leave the country, and were being told they must give up one of the two passports.

Turkmenistan maintains the strictest restrictions on movement of any Central Asian state, and citizens on Turkmen passports must apply for permission to leave the country even for a short trip abroad. Permits are limited to a named destination and are valid only for a specified period.

Since 1999, exit visas have been required to visit other former Soviet states, which generally make it easy for their citizens to travel as so many retain family and business connections in other parts of what used to be the USSR.

Local observers say the National Security Committee uses the exit visa system as a way of withholding travel rights from anyone whose loyalty to the regime is deemed suspect.
That rather says it all.

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