Turkmenbashi, formerly known as Krasnovodsk and Kyzyl-Su, is a city in Balkan Province in Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea. The population (est 2004) was 86,800, mostly ethnic Russian, Armenians and Azeri. As the terminus of the Trans-Caspian Railway, it was an important transportation center.
In 1717, Russian Prince Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky landed and established a secret fortified settlement on this location, where the dry bed of a former mouth of the Amu-Darya River once emptied into the Caspian Sea. His intent was to march an army up this dry riverbed and conquer the Khanate of Khiva. The expedition failed, and the Russians abandoned the settlement for over 150 years.
In 1869, the Russians made a second and latest attempt. They named their fort Krasnovodsk (Красноводск), which is the Russian version of the original name, Kyzyl-Su (Red Water). Krasnovodsk was Imperial Russia's base of operations against Khiva and Bukhara, and the nomadic Turkmen tribes.
The railway had originally begun from Uzun-Ada on the Caspian Sea, but the terminus was shifted north to the harbour at Krasnovodsk.
It fell to the Red Army in February, 1920.
In 1993, Krasnovodsk was renamed by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov, after his self-proclaimed title Turkmenbashy ("Leader of all Turkmen"). Niyazov's successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow pledged, in July 2007, to invest one billion dollars into a project slated to turn Turkmenbas,y into a major tourist resort – the center of the Avaza Tourist Zone with 60 modern hotels to be built along a 16 km stretch of the Caspian Sea shoreline.
Turkmenbashy is Turkmenistan's only port and sea link to the West. A ferry service connects Turkmenbashy to Baku, Azerbaijan. It is the western terminus of the Trans-Caspian railway, which connects the city to Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat and points further east. The city is also connected to Ashgabat by bus. The Turkmenistan Airlines provides direct flights from Turkmenbashi Airport to Ashgabat, Das,oguz, Mary, Istanbul and Turkmenabat.
Western Turkmenistan has major petroleum and natural gas reserves, and Turkmenistan's largest oil refinery is in Turkmenbashy.