TURKMENISTAN

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Country Description: Smallest in population of the former Soviet Republics, Turkmenistan in many ways remains unchanged from the old regime. It is a country where tourist facilities are not highly developed and many of the goods and services taken for granted in European countries are not yet available. There are, however, several western standard hotels in Ashgabat. Internal travel, especially by air, may be disrupted unexpectedly and on short notice.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Without a visa, travelers cannot register at hotels and will be required to leave the country immediately. Visas for Turkmenistan are issued at the Embassy of Turkmenistan, 2207 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 588-1500. Due to frequent changes in visa policy, the Turkmen Embassy should be contacted prior to travel for the most current information.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Turkmenistan is limited. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English speaking physicians in the area. There is a severe shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics. Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems may be at risk due to inadequate medical facilities. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical air evacuation, has proved to be useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline, tel: (404) 332-4559 or on the Internet at: http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Turkmenistan has a low rate of violent crime, but common street crime has increased, especially at night. The U.S. Embassy recommends that westerners, expecially women, not walk or take public transportation or taxis alone, expecially after dark. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Additional information on the region can be found in the brochure, "Tips for Travelers to Russia and the Newly Independent States." Both publications are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Currency Regulations: Turkmenistan is a cash only economy. Several new hotels accept credit cards. Only Vnesheconombank cashes travelers checks or accepts Visa, Mastercard and Eurocards for cash advances. Commercial and other checks require from one to two months to clear. Travelers are advised to take only new, clean dollar bills with them (1990 and newer). Banks frequently do not have small bills for change. More detailed information is available at the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. There is no allowable blood alcohol content for drivers - a driver who has taken one detectable drink may be fined or jailed. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration and Embassy Location: Americans are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy where they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Turkmenistan. The U.S. Embassy is located in Ashgabat at Pushkin Street, No. 9, telephones: (7-3632) 35-00-45 or 35-00-46.

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