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Ashgabat

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Ashgabat (also Ashkabat, Ashkhabad, Ashgabad) is the capital city of Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic. Ashgabat has a population of around 400,000 and is situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag[?] mountain range. The principal industries of Ashgabat are cotton textiles and metal working. The name is believed to derive from a corruption of the Arabic Ishq (Love) and the Persian suffix abad (built), and hence loosely translates as "The city built by/from love".

History

Ashgabat is a relatively young city, growing out of a village of the same name established in 1818. It is, however, located not far from the site of Nisa[?], the ancient capital of the Parthians. In 1869 Russian soldiers built a fortress on a hill near the village, and this added security soon attracted merchants and craftsmen to the area. Tsarist Russia annexed the region in 1884.

Soviet rule was established, lost and then regained in 1917, and the city was renamed Poltorask after a local revolutionary. The name "Ashgabat" was restored in 1927 when the Communist Party was properly established in Turkmenistan, though it was usually known by the Russian form Ashkhabad. From this period onward the city experienced rapid growth and industrialisation, although this was severely disrupted by a major earthquake in 1948.

People and places

Ashgabat has a primarily Sunni Muslim population. The city centre still features an impressive statue of Lenin. Museums include the Turkmen Fine Arts Museum, noted for its impressive collection of woven carpets[?], and the Turkmen History Museum which has artifacts dating back to the Parthian civilisation. The Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan is an important institute of higher learning.



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