Darvaza inhabitants are mostly Turkmen of the Teke tribe, preserving a semi-nomadic lifestyle. In 2004 the village was disbanded following the order of the President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, because "it was an unpleasant sight for tourists."
The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971, Soviet geologists tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft) at 40°15′10″N58°26′22″E / 40.25264°N 58.43941°E / 40.25264; 58.43941 (The Gates of Hell). To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided the best solution was to burn it off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas is still burning today. Locals have dubbed the cavern "The Door to Hell".