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General information on Turkmenistan. Akhal Teke horses. Climate. Geographical position

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  • Capital and largest city - Ashgabat 37 58” N, 58 20”E
  • Official languages - Turkmen
  • Recognized regional languages – Russian, Uzbek, Dari
  • Government – Single-party state
  • President – Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov
  • Independence – from Soviet Union
  • Declared – October 27, 1991
  • Recognized – December 8, 1991
  • Area Total 488,100 sq km
  • Water (%) – 4,9
  • Population – 5,110,023 (for December 2006)
  • Currency – Turkmen Manat
  • Time zone +5
  • Internet – .tm
  • Calling code +993 

Geography

The Caspian Sea at Turkmenbashy

Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum desert. The center of the country is dominated by the Turan Depression and the Karakum Desert. The Kopet Dag Range, along the southwestern border, reaches 2,912 meters (9,553 ft.). The Turkmen Balkan Mountains in the far west and the Kugitang Range in the Far East are the only other significant elevations. Rivers include the Amu Darya, the Murgab and the Tejen.

The climate mostly consists of an arid subtropical desert, with little rainfall. Winters are mild and dry, with most precipitation falling between January and May. The area of the country with the heaviest precipitation is the Kopet Dag range.

The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea is 1768 km long. The Caspian Sea is entirely landlocked, with no access to the ocean.

The major cities include Ashgabat, Turkmenbashy (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Dasoguz.

Akhal-Teke

The Akhal-Teke, `Ahalteke` in the Turkmen language is a breed of horse from Turkmenistan, where they are a national emblem. They are noted for their speed and for endurance on long marches. These "golden-horses" are adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest surviving horse breeds. There are currently about 3,500 Akhal-Tekes in the world, mostly in Turkmenistan and Russia, although they are also found in Cermany and the United States. Many Akhal-Tekes are bred at the Tersk Stud in the northern Caucausus Mountains.

Breed characteristics

The Akhal-Teke usually stands between 14.3 and 16.3 hands. The horses are famous for those individuals who have a pale golden buckskin color that has a distinct sheen. However, a number of other colors are recognized, including bay, black, chestnut, palomino and grey. The Akhal-Teke`s most notable and defining characteristic is the natural metallic bloom of its coat. This is especially seen in the palominos and buckskins, as well as the lighter bays, although some horses "shimmer" more than others. The color pattern is thought to have been used as camouflage in the desert. The cream gene that produces buckskin and palomino is a dilution gene that also produces the occasional cremello and perlino. However, Akhal-Tekes do not carry the dun gene.

The Akhal-Teke has a fine head with a straight or slightly convex profile, and long ears. It also has almond-shaped eyes. The mane and tail are usually sparse. The long back is lightly muscled, and is coupled to a flat croup and long, upright neck. The Akhal-Teke possess sloping shoulders and thin skin. These horses have strong, tough, but fine limbs. They have a rather slim body and ribcage (like an equine version of the greyhound), with a deep chest. The conformation is typical of horses bred for endurance over distance. The Akhal-Tekes are lively and alert, with a reputation for being "one-rider" horses.

The breed is tough and resilient, having adapted to the harshness of Turkmenistan lands, where horses must live without much food or water. This has also made the horses good for sport. The breed has great endurance, as shown in 1935 when a group of Turkish horsemen rode the 2500 miles from Ashgabat to Moscow in 84 days, including a three-day crossing of 235 miles of desert without water. The Akhal-Teke is also known for its form and grace as a show jumper.

Uses of the Akhal-Teke

An Akhal-Teke in motion

Because of the genetic prepotency of the ancient breed, the Akhal-Teke has been used for developing new breeds, most recently the Nez Perce Horse (Appaloosa x Akhal-Teke). The Akhal-Teke, due to its natural athleticism, makes a great sport horse, good at dressage, show jumping, eventing, racing and endurance riding. 

One such great sport horse was the Akhal-Teke stallion, Absent. He won the Prix de Dressage at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He was eight years old, and was ridden by Sergei Filatov. He went again with Filatov to win the bronze individual medal in Tokyo in the 1964 Summer Olympics, and won the Soviet team gold medal under Ivan Kalita at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

The Yomut carpet is a type of carpet traditionally handwoven by the Yomut, one of the major tribes of Turkmenistan. A Yomut design, along with designs of the four other major tribes, is featured on the coat of arms and the flag of Turkmenistan.