Situated in the southwest region of Central Asia, Turkmenistan has a surface of 488,100 square kilometres and borders to the north on Kazakhstan, to the northeast on Uzbekistan, to the south on Iran and to the west on the Caspian Sea. Its territory is constituited by a low tableland delimited to the south by the imposant mountain chain of Kopet Dağ and to the north by the Turanic lowland. The central re-gion of the country is occupied quite enterely by the Karakum De-sert, a vast sandy zone characterized by the presence of takyrs, pe-culiar hollows of large dimensions separated by the dunes generated by the strong winds blowing in the region. From the physical point of view the Karakum Desert is divided into two parts by the Unguz de-pression, separating Zaunguzsky plateau, in the southest region of the country, from the Low Karakum, occupying exactly the central re-gions. The vegetation is extremely scarce and it limits itself to some shrubs as the saksaul and the sandy acacia.
On the border with Uzbekistan, in the southeast region of the coun-try, there is the Kougitang mountain chain, characterized by an ex-tremely steep outline. The Mount Airybaba, which with its 3,137 me-tres is the highest peak in Turkmenistan, is part of this mountain chain.
On the other hand in the southwest region of the country there is the mountain chain of Kopet Dağ, extending for 650 kilometres and tracing the border with Iran. Formed by alpine orogenesis and up to now subject to high seismicity, the mountain chain of Kopet Dağ consists also of mountains with a steep outline, exceeding in some cases 3,000 metres in height.
On the western slope the mountain chain of Kopet Dağ declines to-wards the shore of the Caspian Sea, which in the part reaching to Turkmenbashi looks low and sandy and becomes indented in the part that connects the important port city to Kara Bogaz Gol, a wide salt lake separated from the Caspian Sea by a dam and subject to an intensive process of evaporation that reduces from year to year the surface, increasing its salinity rate.
The main watercourse of the country is the Amudarya, flowing along the Uzbek border through all the northeast region of the country into the lake of Aral. The presence of the Amudarya has for Turkmenistan a double economic importance. In fact, while the width of its basin makes it possible the navigation transforming it into an important waterway, the abundance of its waters permits the cultivation of the areas situated along its valley, which in fact is the most fertile region of the country. Also the Murgab and the Tedjen have some impor-tance for the hydrography of Turkmenistan, anyway, since they are utilized for irrigation purposes, they loose their waters in some cul-tivated areas amid the sands of the desert.

Copyright © 2002 turkmenistan.it