Ashgabat

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Ashgabat (Turkmen: Aşgabat, Persian: عشق آباد, Russian: Ашхабад, also Ashkhabad in transliteration from Russian (literally, Persian meaning: "City of Love") or formerly Poltoratsk between 1919–1927) is the capital and largest city of Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. It has a population of 695,300 (2001 census estimate), 2009 estimates around 1 million people in Ashgabat, and is situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range. Ashgabat has a primarily Turkmen population, with ethnic minorities of Russians, Armenians, and Azeris. It is 250 km from the second largest city in Iran, Mashhad.

Contents

Names

Ashgabat is Aşgabat in Turkmen, Ашхабад (Ashkhabad) in Russian, and عشق‌آباد (UniPers: Ešq-âbâd) in Persian. From 1919 until 1927, the city was renamed Poltoratsk after a local revolutionary. Before 1991, the city was usually spelled Ashkhabad in English, a transliteration of the Russian form, which was itself from the original Persian form. It has also been variously spelled Ashkhabat and Ashgabad.

A folk etymology suggests that the name is a dialect version of the Persian word of عشق (eshq meaning "love") and Persian آباد (ābād meaning "inhabited place" or "city", where the English word "abode" is etymologically "ābād"), and hence loosely translates as "the city of love" or "the city that love built".[1]

History

Ashgabat is a relatively young city, growing out of a village of the same name established by Russians in 1818. It is not far from the site of Nisa, the ancient capital of the Parthian Empire, and it grew on the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala, which was first mentioned as a wine-producing village in 2nd century BCE and was leveled by an earthquake in 1st century BCE (a precursor of the 1948 Ashgabat earthquake). Konjikala was rebuilt because of its advantageous location on the Silk Road and it flourished until its destruction by Mongols in the 13th century CE. After that it survived as a small village until the Russians took over in the 19th century.[2][3]

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