Turkmenistan is the southernmost republic of the Commonwealth
of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary), the loose federation
created at the end of 1991 by most of the post-Soviet states.
Its longest border is with the Caspian Sea (1,786 kilometers).
The other borders are with Iran (to the south, 992 kilometers),
Afghanistan (to the south, 744 kilometers), Uzbekistan (to the
north and east, 1,621 kilometers) and Kazakstan (to the north,
379 kilometers). Turkmenistan is slightly larger than California
in territory, occupying 488,100 square kilometers. That statistic
ranks Turkmenistan fourth among the former Soviet republics. The
country's greatest extent from west to east is 1,100 kilometers,
and its greatest north-to-south distance is 650 kilometers (see
Data as of March 1996