In 1989 about 45 percent of the population was classified as
urban, a drop of 3 percent since 1979. Prior to the arrival of
Russians in the late nineteenth century, Turkmenistan had very
few urban areas, and many of the large towns and cities that exist
today were developed after the 1930s. Ashgabat, the capital and
largest city in Turkmenistan, has a population of about 420,000.
The second-largest city, Chärjew on the Amu Darya, has about 165,000
people. Other major cities are Turkmenbashy on the Caspian seacoast,
Mary in the southeast, and Dashhowuz in the northeast. Because
much of the Russian population only came to Turkmenistan in the
Soviet period, separate Russian quarters or neighborhoods did
not develop in Turkmenistan's cities as they did elsewhere in
Central Asia. This fact, combined with a relatively small Slavic
population, has led to integration of Turkmen and Slavs in neighborhoods
and housing projects.
Apart from the outflow of small numbers of Russians immediately
following Turkmenistan's independence, neither out-migration nor
in-migration is a significant factor for Turkmenistan's population.
In 1992 there were 19,035 emigrants from Turkmenistan to the Russian
Federation and 7,069 immigrants to Turkmenistan.
Data as of March 1996