Tue, 10 Dec 2019

Young twins strap in for a bumper car ride inside a shopping center in the capital, Ashgabat.

A woman wrings a rag dry while cleaning the tiles around Ashgabat's wedding palace.

The palace, which is reserved for wedding ceremonies, features a glass globe spanned by a titanium map of Turkmenistan and includes a portrait of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

A masked gardener who was working near the wedding palace. The mask is to protect his face from the scorching summer sun. Temperatures in the country can climb to 50 degrees Celsius. A limo glides back towards central Ashgabat after a marriage ceremony at the palace.

A 'dalek'-like phone booth in the center of Ashgabat.

A giant thermometer on a roundabout in Ashgabat. The screen in the foreground played a loop of autocratic leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov attending official ceremonies.

Turkmenistan was rated dead last in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

A portrait of Berdymukhammedov on the dashboard of a taxi. The trained dentist runs one of the most repressive regimes on Earth and has continued the cult of personality that was begun by his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, since taking power in 2007.

A 12-meter, gold-plated statue of Niyazov, who ruled the former Soviet country from 1990 until his death at the end of 2006.

The statue of Niyazov, atop the Monument of Neutrality. The structure was once in central Ashgabat, where the golden statue rotated to always face the sun.

Gold reliefs on the side of the Monument of Neutrality. In 2010, current ruler Berdymukhammedov remodeled the monument and moved it to the outskirts of Ashgabat.

The golden statue of Niyazov no longer rotates with the sun.

A street cleaner on one of the massive, mostly empty highways running out of Ashgabat as a rainstorm sweeps into the city.

A woman shelters from the same rainstorm with her daughter.

The Monument to the Constitution (left) and the Turkmenistan Tower (top right). The 185-meter monument is the tallest structure in Turkmenistan.

Guards at the Monument to the Constitution. Like most other monuments, the vast stone squares surrounding it stood mostly empty.

A man steps out of the shade at the base of the Monument to the Constitution.

Scrubland at the edge of Ashgabat

One of the 27 statues of ancient Turkmen warriors and leaders around the Independence Monument in Ashgabat.

The ancient Turkmen warrior looks out toward Ashgabat.

A rare user of the "walk of health" that runs some 37 kilometers through the mountains around Ashgabat.

A young couple walks out of the Alem Cultural and Entertainment Center, a building topped by the world';s largest indoor ferris wheel.

A monument to former President Niyazov in Ashgabat. Away from the gold and white marble of the capital, Turkmenistan's rural areas could hardly be more different.

An impoverished desert village north of Ashgabat.

Two camels walk out of their corral in the village.

Photographer Amos Chapple at the edge of the Darvaza gas crater -- aka the Gates of Hell -- which has been burning since the 1970s.

A taxi driver explores the wreckage of a Soviet-era MiG fighter jet in northern Turkmenistan. The plane has been stripped of its most valuable parts.

A Turkmen boy swills water on a baking afternoon in July.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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