Turkmenabat, formerly and since medieval times, Chardzhou, also spelled Chardjui, Charjou, Charjew (Persian: for 'four canals'), ancient Amul, is a city in Turkmenistan, capital of Lebap Province. As of 2009, it had a population of approximately 254,000 people (up from 161,000 in the 1989 census).
Tгrkmenabat is located at an altitude of 187 meters on the banks of the Amu-Darya River, near the border with Uzbekistan. Tьrkmenabat is at the center of Lebap province, which has borders with three provinces in Turkmenistan: Mary, Ahal and Dasoguz. The province also borders with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
Although now a modern industrial city, Turkmenabat has a history of over 2,000 years. In ancient times, it was known as Amul (to be distinguished from the Iranian city of Amol). The river Amu Darya is said to mean River of Amul, named after this ancient city. Tьrkmenabat was the hub in an intersection between 3 paths of the Great Silk Way leading to Bukhara, Khiva and Merv. Amul was for centuries an important town of the relatively backward Uzbek feudal khanate (later emirate) of Bukhara.
When the Russian Empire invaded all of Central Asian Turkestan, Amul became the city controlling the Bukhara emirate, a vassal of Russia which pledged allegiance to the Russian emperor. The modern city was founded in 1886, when Cossack Russians settled in what is now Tьrkmenabat, naming their settlement New-Chardjuy.The settlement here was necessary to complete the construction of the Trans-Caspian railway.
After the revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks came into power in Russia, communists merged former khanates into republics on the basis of nationality. Thus, Tьrkmenabat (known as Chardjuy at those times) was passed to the newly created Turkmen Soviet Socialistic Republic in order to reduce the territory and strength of a highly nationalistic Uzbekistan.
Its role as a railway junction, and the high fertility of the Amu-Darya region, made it the major trade center for agricultural products in the northeast region of the country. The city has food processing, textile (cotton processing and silk) factories. Chardzhou was Turkmenistan's industrial and transport hub during the Soviet period, but most of these related jobs and transport opportunities have been relocated to Ashgabat or closed since Turkmenistan's independence.
Turkmenabat also well known for its bazaars. The largest bazaar is "World bazaar" which is known by the name Dunya bazar. Other well-known bazaars are Gok bazar and Merkezi bazar. People from all around the country come to Turkmenabat in order to purchase local, Chinese, Turkish, Uzbek and Russian goods. Dunya bazar has many sections, including those for jewelry, home appliances, clothes, diary, cars, and other items.
One of the most attractive places in Turkmenabat is Zaton, is an artificial beach, located about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the center of the city. During the whole summer youth gather at 'Zaton' for relaxation and enjoyment.