Turkmenistan is a country located in Central Asia, bordered by Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Caspian Sea. Slightly larger than California, most of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert, with a few small mountain ranges providing the only elevation. Due to this, most of the country is arid and has little rainfall.
Previously a member of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan is now an independent nation governed by a single-party system. Presidents are elected for life, with the most recent election happening in 2007. The country is wealthy in natural resources, primarily natural gas and oil, and has the 5th fastest GDP growth rate in the world as of 2006.
Most of the population is comprised of ethnic Turkmen, with the largest minorities being Russian and Uzbeks. The official language is Turkmen, but Russian is spoken throughout the country, especially in cities, as it's considered "the language of inter-ethnic communication".