Turkmenistan was originally occupied by nomadic and semi nomadic tribes, possibly as far back as 2000 BC.
Over the centuries the area now known as Turkmenistan was overrun by various conquerors including Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.
Islam was brought to the area by Muslim Arabs and the Oghuz Turks; the latter also brought the Turkic Turkmen language.
In the 19th Century the country was conquered by the Russian Empire and in 1917 was absorbed in to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It remained with the USSR until 27th October 1991 when the country gained its independence as the Soviet Union collapsed.
Saparmurat Niyazov who had been First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR since 1985 was elected as president in 1990 with 98.3% of the vote. He established the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan as the only legal party and he and the party won every election until his death in 2006.
In 1999 Niyazov had been appointed as lifetime president and in 2001 announced that the next presidential elections would take place in 2010. However his death led to his successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow standing for election, for the first time against five other candidates. Berdimuhamedow took 89.23% of the vote.
In 2008 a new constitution was introduced, abolishing the People’s Council (Halk Maslahaty) or upper house of the bicameral chamber, leaving the National Assembly of Turkmenistan which was enlarged to 125 members from the previous 50 seats.
The President is elected by popular vote for a five year term.
The unicameral National Assembly (Mejlis) has 125 members elected by popular vote to serve five year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Turkmenistan at joint 154th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 22 (where 100 is least corrupt).