The current ruler is only slightly less eccentric than his recent predecessor, Turkmenbashi. Turkmenbashi renamed a large city after himself and another after his mother, because she brought him “The Leader of all Turkmens” into the world. Also under Turkmenbashi, the Turkmen word for “bread” became illegal. Instead, as a homage to the life-giving powers of both bread and mothers, he made the two synonymous. His mother’s name was now the Turkmen word for bread, officially changed in all dictionaries.
Turkmenistan sees almost no tourism. Tourist visas are almost impossible to get and if you do get one you will pay a hefty price and will have to be accompanied by a government employed “guide” at all times. Much like in North Korea.
Turkmenbashi wrote a book, a “spiritual and moral guide”. He called it the Ruhnama. Mosques were ordered to teach from the book and treat it as an equal with the Koran. Students must study it in school and are tested on it. Memorization of parts of the book are required to get a drivers license or government job. Oh yea, and Turkmenbashi interceded with Allah himself who told him that anyone who reads the Ruhnama three times will be promised a place in paradise after their death.
The names of the months of the year and days of the week were renamed after various aspects of himslef, his mother, and other family members.
Dogs were banned in the country, as well as gold teeth, recorded music, and lip syncing.
Electricity, natural gas, and water are all free in Turkmenistan. One person said that some Turkmens leave the gas on their stove running 24 hours a day to save the expense of matches. Until 2014 even petrol (120 liters per person per month) was free. It is still costs cheap, around whopping 20 US cents per liter (70 cents per gallon).
Women under the age of 35 cannot get a drivers license or leave the country for leisure purposes.
A while back the president had heart surgery and had to quit smoking. So…he banned smoking in all public places throughout the country.
The current president, a dentist by trade, decided to build a mega-resort town on the Caspian sea. He spent billions of dollars building 5 star hotels. He said it would be the “Dubai of Central Asia”. It has multiple 5 star hotels, fully staffed, and it is pretty much empty…a ghosttown. He has obviously not made the connection that for tourists to come….you need to issue them visas.
Don’t ask anyone in Turkmenistan what they think of all this insanity, they wold rather rot in a dark jail cell then talk about it…because that is where they would end up anyways. Turkmenistan ranked 178th out of 180 countries by the World Press Freedom Index.