The former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan might not top the list of most popular places to live, but its citizens have certainly benefited from its rich supply of energy. From 1993 until 2017, every citizen in Turkmenistan received 1,765 cubic feet (50 cubic meters) of natural gas and 35 kilowatt hours of electricity every month, along with 66 gallons (250 liters) of water every day. To put that into perspective, the average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons (303 and 379 liters) of water per day, and 897 kilowatts of electricity and 5,000 cubic feet (141 cubic meters) of natural gas per month. In other words, most Turkmen households paid only a fraction of their actual energy costs. However, that is all coming to an end under the leadership of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who stopped the subsidies in 2017 following a steep drop in energy prices and Russia's decision to no longer buy natural gas from Turkmenistan.
A virtual visit to Turkmenistan:
- Turkmenistan contains a large natural gas crater that has been burning since it was set on fire by geologists in 1971; it is nicknamed the "Gates of Hell."
- About 70 percent of Turkmenistan is desert, but the country's capital of Ashgabat boasts the world's largest indoor swimming pool.
- Privately-owned satellite dishes were banned in Turkmenistan in 2015, presumably in an effort to prevent access to international news.