Turkmenistan, also known as Turkmenia, is a country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north, east and northeast, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest and the Caspian Sea to the west. Ashgabat is the capital and largest city of the country. The population of the country is about 6 million, the lowest of the Central Asian republics. Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated nations in Asia. Citizens of Turkmenistan are known as Turkmenistanis, Turkmenians or Turkmens.
Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries; Merv is one of the oldest oasis-cities in Central Asia and was once the biggest city in the world. In medieval times, Merv was also one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1925, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic; it became independent after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.