Introducing Northern Turkmenistan
Stalin’s modus operandi in Central Asia sought the division of its people, thus resulting in the split of the Khorezm oasis – the northern bit with Khiva going to Uzbekistan and the southern portion, with Konye-Urgench, going to Turkmenistan. It remains this way today, with the Amu-Darya river wriggling its way in and out of the Uzbek and Turkmen borders. As part of historic Khorezm, the Turkmen portion still contains a sizable Uzbek minority and retains a culture apart from the rest of the country. Sadly, the region has not escaped the Aral Sea disaster and suffers from air, soil and water pollution. It’s also the poorest part of the country, with little commerce apart from the smuggling of subsidised petrol to Uzbekistan. Still, it’s worth visiting the area to explore some unique historical sights, especially if you are travelling to or from Uzbekistan.