20 years have passed since Turkmenistan gained independence from the Soviet Union, yet despite an economy growing massively through the discovery of massive hydro carbon reserves the average life expectancy has barely budged.
In 1987 Turkmenistan’s GDP was $2,368,660,561. By 2009 this had grown to a whopping $19,947,368,421. In comparison life expectancy has gone from 62 in 1987 to just 65 in 2009. This has been consistently the lowest in the region.
At the same time Turkmenistan sits 169th (out of 178) in the Happy Planet Index (an effort to measure people’s ‘happiness’) and has one of the worst human rights records in the world. the UN has described torture as ‘widespread’.
20 years from independence, but hardly time for a celebration.