The former name, Nebit Dag, means "Oil & Mountain" in Turkmen language, and it is named for the reserves of oil and large mountains of the Balkan mountain range. The town was founded in 1933, as a settlement along one of the stations of Trans-Caspian Railway. There is a large monument on the far eastern side of the city called "monument to the desert explorers" which depicts a camel and several men struggling to walk through the windy desert. Nebit Dag was renamed to Balkanabad (Balkan=from name of Balkan mountains, abad=city) in 2001 by the decree of former President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov. The city has now a "health path," which is a concrete path outside of the city built to give the citizens of the town a place to take a moderate hike along the mountainside. It was opened in 2004 to model a similar concrete path outside of Ashgabat. The city has 4 bazaars (markets) Gök, Jennet, Tolkuchka and bazaar on 5th microregion. Jennet bazaar is also called "12-etazhka" bazaar due to its location in the lot adjacent to a condemned apartment building. There is hotel "Nebitchi", Theatre, Museums, Restaurants and parks in Balkanabad. The north side of town contains the large "Saparmurat Turkmenbashy Park" which contains tennis courts, a life-size chess board and plenty of benches. The tennis courts are available to rent by the hour, but cannot support a serious game because the fence surrounding the courts was built directly on the base line. The Yomud tribe was historic to the Balkan region and the Yomud carpet pattern, or göl, is one of the five patterns represented on the Turkmen flag.
It is an industrial center for petroleum and natural gas production. The city is served by Balkanabat Airport. The city is connected to Ashgabat by Turkmenistan Airlines, as well as by train and bus. Buses route is from east to the west of Magtymguly shayoly (highway) and makes stops at bus station. While there is no official cab company, private citizens operate shared cabs. Almost any vehicle will pick up passengers and a ride costs under 1 manat. If the driver has already passengers in the car, then he will agree to take you if headed in the similar direction of their other available passengers. The city layout is a grid of apartment blocks, numbered by "kvartal." There are main highways called Magtymguly, Pervomayskiy and Gurbansoltan eje shayoly. There are range of banks, Turkmenpostal services in the centre by Magtymguly Shayoly, near 197 kvartal.