All students from Turkmenistan are Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program scholarship winners. Click here to learn more about the FLEX Program.
Turkmenistan is mostly desert covered country with extremely hot, dry summers and near freezing winters. Silver jewelry and woven textiles and rugs are known for their production in Turkmenistan. It is the fourth largest supplier of the world’s natural gas.
The separation of space with regard to gender is an aspect of life that varies greatly. Men and women may sit and eat together, or may remain in separate rooms during a social event. Women historically have been viewed as equal partners and decision makers with their husbands, though their role is primarily to manage the house. However, many women are educated and work outside the home as well. Most homes are multigenerational with grandparents living with their adult children.
Türkmen are conscientious about keeping living spaces clean. They never wear shoes in the house but wear and provide guests with slippers. Acts of personal hygiene such as cutting the hair or cutting or filing the nails are done in the bath area, never in the main living space.
Teens in Turkmenistan are like most teens in Central Asia. They attend school and soccer is a sport favorite.
Women wear traditional clothing such as long, flowing solid-colored dresses in bright tones decorated with elaborate embroidery (keşde) around the collar. They sometimes cover their heads with colorful scarves for protection against the elements or sand, but there are no social rules that require head coverings. Most women prefer the traditional styles of long upswept hair for adults and long braids for girls. Jewelry, especially made from silver, and pierced ears are very common. Men wear Western-style pants and jackets, but some wear traditional clothing. The high lamb's wool hat (telpek) is worn even during the hot summer months. For ceremonies and special occasions white telpeks are worn with dark, baggy pants tucked into high black boots.
Türkmen eat a lot of meat, primarily from sheep and cows but also from camels, goats, chicken, and despite the Muslim tradition, pigs. They also use milk from these animals. Meat is boiled or fried inside a casing of dough. Manty is a popular version, eaten with yogurt on top. Soup usually is served with meat and/or noodles and may be eaten for breakfast. Bread is eaten at every meal. Russian-style loaves can be bought cheaply, and traditional flatbread (çörek) is often made at home in a tamdyr. A tamdyr is a traditional Central Asian dome-shaped clay oven placed outside the home; in the cities, several apartment buildings may share a single tamdyr.
Türkmen also drink black tea, seltzer water, and imported sodas. Green tea is a staple at every meal and drank throughout the year. Despite the ban on alcohol among some Muslim peoples, Türkmen drink wine, beer, and liquor; Türkmen wine has won international competitions.
Food is rarely bought prepared or processed, and there are few restaurants. Fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains are bought at the bazaar, while butter, bottled water, milk, and sausages are usually purchased from state stores.
Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan and Russian is the interethnic communicating language. 89% of the country is Islamic.