More than 90% of Turkmenistan's cultivated land is irrigated. Cotton, grown along the Kara Kum canal and in the Murgab and Tejen oases, is the chief crop; wheat, barley, corn, millet, sesame, vegetables, melons, wine grapes, and alfalfa are also cultivated. The annual cotton harvest relies in part on the forced labor of some public sector workers. The diversion of water from the Aral Sea for irrigation is drying up the sea and reducing the flow of freshwater in the region. Karakul sheep (which provide wool for the region's famous carpets), cattle, horses, and camels are raised, and silkworms are bred.
The nation's numerous mineral resources include rich deposits of oil and natural gas under the Caspian Sea and along its coast. Other resources include sulfur, salt, coal, phosphate, iodine, and lignite. Turkmenistan's industries include oil refining, fish canning (along the Caspian), meat processing, and the production of petroleum products, chemicals, and textiles. The country has numerous hydroelectric stations. The Trans-Caspian RR is the main transportation route.
Exports include natural gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, cotton fiber, and textiles. Machinery and equipment, chemicals, and foodstuffs are imported. The country's chief trading partners are Ukraine, China, Russia, and Poland.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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