Situated in an oasis at the southern end of the Karakum desert, Mary is nowadays an important agricultural and commercial centre on the banks of the river Murgab, not far from the Afghan border. The original core of the present centre arose in 1887 at about thirty kilo-meters from the ancient settlement of Merv, maintaining at the beginning also its name. With the construction of the Transcaspian railway line, connecting Krasnovodsk, on the shores of the Caspian sea, to the cultivations of cotton of Uzbekistan, the new centre deve-loped rapidly, acquiring in a short time the part of important econo-mic and politic pole of the transcaspian region. Its rapid economic development was favoured by the extraordinary fertility of the region, that, thanks to the contribution of the first irrigation works realized, became rapidly an area of some importance for the cultivation of cotton and of some cereal crops, like rice and barley. Also the trade is very important, gathered essentially along the banks of the river, where nowadays there is the big Covered Market, a modern architec-tonical structure surmounted with a dome, where up to now the pro-ducts of local agriculture and handicraft come together. In 1937 the original name Merv was modified into the present name Mary. The city, that at the moment has about 90,000 inhabitants, is the seat of important textile, food and leather tanning industries.

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