Turkmenistan: A SWOT Analysis

Turkmenistan flag
This SWOT analysis aims at underlying the geopolitical scenarios of Turkmenistan (Credits: Foto di engin akyurt su Unsplash)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 41 Issue 5
SpecialEurasia OSINT Team

Turkmenistan, at the crossroads of civilisations, embodies a rich tapestry of history, geopolitics, and natural resources. From its ancient roots as a hub on the Silk Road to its modern-day status as a key player in the global energy market, centuries of conquests, trade, and geopolitical manoeuvring have shaped Turkmenistan’s journey.

This SWOT analysis delves into Turkmenistan’s geopolitical scenario, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, offering insights into the nation’s complex dynamics and future prospects.

Turkmenistan’s Geopolitical Scenario

Turkmenistan’s geopolitical significance stems from its strategic location in Central Asia, nestled between major powers and pivotal trade routes. Over the centuries, the region has been subject to the rule of various empires, from Persian to Russian, each leaving an indelible mark on its cultural landscape.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan emerged as an independent nation, reclaiming its historical legacy while navigating the complexities of modern geopolitics.

One of country’s primary geopolitical assets is its extensive reserves of natural gas, ranking it among the top four nations globally in terms of gas reserves. Turkmenistan’s wealth of resources has positioned it as a pivotal player in the global energy market, garnering strategic partnerships and investment from prominent nations, notably China.

The relationship between Turkmenistan and China is of particular significance, with Beijing emerging as the primary destination for Ashgabat’s natural gas exports. This partnership has deepened over the years, marked by the construction of gas pipelines and bilateral agreements aimed at bolstering economic cooperation. Turkmenistan’s integration into major trade routes, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), underscores its role as a nexus for regional trade and connectivity.


The country boasts several strengths that underpin its economic potential and geopolitical significance. Foremost among these strengths is its vast reserves of natural gas, comprising nearly 7% of the world’s total reserves. This abundance of resources has positioned the Central Asian republic as a major player in the global energy market, offering significant revenue potential and strategic leverage on the international stage.

Turkmenistan’s strategic location in Central Asia, bridging the gap between major powers and trade routes, provides a gateway to regional cooperation and economic integration. The nation’s observer status at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) further enhances its international standing, offering avenues for trade liberalisation and economic diversification.

Moreover, Turkmenistan exhibits healthy public accounts and a moderate level of debt, which provides a stable foundation for economic growth and development. Investment projects in infrastructure and energy sectors, supported by international institutions, offer additional avenues for economic diversification and resilience.


The Central Asian republic faces several weaknesses that pose challenges to its long-term stability and development. Among these weaknesses is the nation’s high dependence on hydrocarbons, particularly natural gas exports to China, which exposes the economy to volatility in global energy markets.

Corruption, authoritarianism, and politicised institutions have characterised the Turkmen governance framework, undermining have characterised institutional effectiveness and socioeconomic progress.

The lack of a diversified private sector, coupled with anticompetitive market structures and limited access to external financing, further inhibits economic resilience and diversification efforts.

Turkmenistan’s poor infrastructure, porous borders with Afghanistan, and limited military resources pose security challenges, exacerbating vulnerabilities and hindering long-term development.


Despite its challenges, the Ashgabat government has the potential to capitalise on several opportunities that could drive economic growth and development. One such opportunity lies in diversifying economic partnerships beyond China, exploring new markets and avenues for regional cooperation.

Initiatives, such as the Trans-Caspian pipeline project, in collaboration with Turkey and Azerbaijan, offer potential pathways to reduce dependency on China and explore new markets in Europe. Investing in infrastructure, agriculture, and renewable energy presents additional opportunities for economic diversification and resilience.

Moreover, the country’s integration into major trade routes, such as the BRI, offers avenues for trade expansion and regional cooperation, fostering greater economic integration and stability.


Despite having significant potential, Turkmenistan faces various challenges that could jeopardise its political stability and economic progress. The most prominent danger lies in the autocratic regime controlled by the Berdimuhamedov family, as it inherently undermines political pluralism and the effectiveness of institutions.

Economic vulnerabilities, which stem from over-reliance on hydrocarbons and limited access to external financing, expose the Central Asian republic to global market fluctuations and economic shocks.

Security challenges, such as porous borders with Afghanistan and regional terrorist threats, further undermine both internal stability and external relations. This necessitates the development of comprehensive strategies for risk mitigation and conflict prevention.


In conclusion, Turkmenistan stands at a critical juncture in its development trajectory, poised between vast opportunities and formidable challenges. Its abundance of natural resources, strategic location, and historical legacy offer significant potential for economic growth and regional cooperation. However, governance issues, economic vulnerabilities, and security threats pose significant obstacles to long-term stability and progress.

As Turkmenistan navigates its path forward, it must prioritise inclusive governance, economic diversification, and security reforms to mitigate risks and capitalise on opportunities. By fostering a more transparent and accountable governance framework, promoting economic resilience and diversification, and enhancing security cooperation, Turkmenistan can chart a sustainable course towards prosperity and stability in the years to come.

Read also | Time for “Green” Extractives in Central Asia? How Turkmenistan can Become the Next Critical Raw Materials Powerhouse

For further analyses and paid reports on Turkmenistan and the Central Asia, contact us at info@specialeurasia.com.

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