Turkmenistan is a Central Asian country that lies on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. Most of its territory consists of the vast Karakum Desert, one of the driest deserts in the world. The Kopet Dag Range divides Turkmenistan from Iran. Though not particularly high, it does have a ski resort, even though snow cover is unreliable. The economy is based on energy exports. Almost all of the natural gas went to Russia, though there are plans to extend exports to China with a new pipeline. Electricity and oil are also exported. Cotton is the major cultivated crop. Turkmenistan is famous for its carpets. Five styles of carpet design appear on the national flag, which is thus probably the world’s most complex. Turkmenistan is the original home of the Akhal-Teke horse, one of the oldest breeds, whose metallic sheen has given them the name of ‘golden horse’. The ruined walled cities of Merv, now called Mary, are a World Heritage site. Merv was an important oasis on the ancient Silk Road to China. An everyday dish is Plov, fried lamb, rice and vegetables. Turkmenistan’s coastline on the brackish Caspian Sea is over a thousand miles in extent.