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Turkic peoples /

Turkmen women.
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Turkmen women. Photo: ISNA/Ebrahim Asghari.

Turkic people living mainly in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Iran, counting around 7.6 million altogheter. Of these, around 2.1 million live in Iran (some estimates go down to 1.1 million). There are 4.4 million in Turkmenistan, around 1 million in Afghanistan, there are also communities in Pakistan (60,000) and Russia (35,000).
The poeple today called Turkmens are of Western or Oghuz origins.
The term is believed to come from Sogdian language, which by the word "-men", the term means "like a Turk", pointing at a claimed ethnic purity of the Turkmens.
Turkmens speak Turkmen, a Turkic language close to Turkish and Azerbaijani.
There are other names used for Turkmens too, in Iran there are four main branches or tribes: Yomut, Goklan, Nokhorli and Teke. The Iranian part of Turkmen lands is often called Southern Turkmenistan or Turkmensahra Iranian Turkmen remains semi-nomadic, while permanent agriculture is of great importance to their economy.
Turkmens are generally Muslims of both the Sunni and Shi'i branches, in Iran mainly Sunnis. Many also belong to Naqshbandieh Sufism.
Historically, Turkmens of Iran has been in clear opposition to the governments of Teheran.
In their culture certain traditions survive strongly into the modern age, like high dowry paid for a bride. Before, as well as now, bridal kidnapping is a popular method of avoiding this high expense.

Middle 11th century: A Oghuz tribe establishes what would become the strongest power in the Middle East, the Seljuq Dynasty.
Late 11th century: Another Turkmen dynasty emerges, the Khwarezmian which soon would challenge the Seljuqs.
1194: End of the Iranian Seljuq state, the Khwarezmian emerging as its replacement.
1220: End of the Khwarezmian Dynasty, due to the Mongol invasion of their heartlands.
1881: Treaty of Alkhal divides the lands of the Turkmen between Russia, Iran and Afghanistan.
1991: Independence for Turkmenistan creating a national state for somewhat more than half of the Turkmens.

By Tore Kjeilen