Mary, Turkmenistan

Coordinates: 37°36′N 61°50′E / 37.600°N 61.833°E / 37.600; 61.833
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Merv medieval times-1937
Alexandria Margiana antiquity
Mary is located in Turkmenistan
Location in Turkmenistan
Coordinates: 37°36′N 61°50′E / 37.600°N 61.833°E / 37.600; 61.833
 • HakimKakageldi Gurbanov
223 m (732 ft)
 • Total126,000
Time zoneUTC+5

Mary (Turkmen pronunciation: [maɾɯ]), formerly named Merv,[1] Meru and Alexandria Margiana, is a city on an oasis in the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan, located on the Murgab River. It is the capital city of Mary Region. In 2010, Mary had a population of 126,000,[2] up from 92,000 in the 1989 census.[3] The ruins of the ancient city of Merv are located near the present-day city.


Atanyyazow notes that the name "Muru" appears in Zoroastrian texts alongside the toponyms Sogd (Sogdia) and Bakhti (Bactria), and that the name "Margiana" appears carved into rocks at Behistun, Iran, dating back 2,500 years. Atanyyazow adds, "the name was used in the form Merv-ash-Shahizhan", with subsequent forms including Muru, Mouru, Margiana, Marg, Margush, Maru, Maru-shahu-jahan, Maru-Shahu-ezan, Merv, and Mary, and that some scholars interpret the word marg as "green field" or "grassland", noting that in Persian marg can mean a source of livestock.[4]


The ancient city of Merv was an oasis city on the Silk Road. It was destroyed and its population annihilated in the 13th century by the Mongols. Because of its location on the Silk Road, it revived over time only to be largely destroyed again in the 19th century by nomadic Teke raiders. Edmund O'Donovan described Merv in 1882 as

...only a "geographical expression." It means a certain amount of cultivated territory where half a million Tekke-Turkomans manage to eke out an existence by pastoral pursuits, plunder, and thievery, combined with the caravan service between Bokhara and Meshed. There is no central point which you can call Merv now, if I except the place which has grown into existence since my arrival. I speak of Koushid Khan Kala, a fort at a point on the river Murghab...[5]

It was occupied by Imperial Russia in 1884, triggering the Panjdeh incident between Afghanistan, British forces, and the Imperial Russian Army. The modern settlement was founded later that year as a Russian military and administrative post.

A force of the British Indian Army consisting of a machine gun detachment comprising 40 Punjabi troops and a British officer resisted the Bolsheviks near Merv in August 1918, in what was the first direct confrontation between British and Russian troops since the Crimean War.[6]

The area surrounding Mary was developed by the Soviet Union as a center for cotton production through the use of extensive irrigation. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia article on Mary reads in part,

Mary (until 1937 Merv), city, center of Mary oblast' of Turkmen SSR. Located on the Murghab River and Karakum Canal. Junction of railroad lines to Tashkent, Krasnovodsk, and Kushka. 67 thousand residents (1973; 8.5 thousand in 1897, 37 thousand in 1939, 48 thousand in 1959). Large wool degreasing plant, cotton gin, machine building factories; building construction amalgamate; food (milling, baking, and meat packing amalgamates, dairy plant, etc.), leather industry, carpet production. Near to Mary began to operate in 1973 the Mary District State Electrical Power Plant. Medical and pedagogical colleges. Museum of history of the revolution. Drama theater.[7]

In 1968, huge reserves of natural gas were discovered 20 kilometers west of the city in the Shatlyk Gas Field.[8]

Mary became the center of Mary Province on 18 May 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Turkmen proclamation of independence.

In the 2000s, many streets and new residential areas were built. The new airport terminal was constructed, as was a new building for the Turkmen State Power Engineering Institute, a theater, the new library, a new historical museum, the Palace of Spirituality (Turkmen: Ruhiýet Köşgi), the Margush Hotel, a medical diagnostic center, the Ene Mähri obstetric-pediatric medical center, the Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque, a stadium, an equestrian complex, an indoor swimming pool, and a new railway station.[9]

In 2012, the city was declared one of the cultural capitals of the CIS.[10]

Administrative Context[edit]

The city of Mary is the capital of Mary Region. Mary is a city of district-level importance, meaning that it is not part of any district, and is administratively directly subordinate to the region. However, there also is Mary District which surrounds the city. The administrative center of the district is also the city of Mary, despite not being part of it.

The city of Mary includes the town of Saparmyrat Türkmenbaşy, and the villages of Mülkburkaz, Soltanyz, and Ýolly.


Mary is Turkmenistan's fourth-largest city and a large industrial center for the natural gas and cotton industries, two of the nation's major export earners. It is a trade center for cotton, cereals, hides, and wool.



Mary's library is the largest regional library in the Mary District.[11] Construction of the library began in February 2010. The library officially opened on October 20, 2011 and the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, held the official opening ceremony.[12]

The building has a spherical shape, and is supported by 62 columns. The height of the library is 42 meters. The three-story building is designed for the storage of three million books,[13] and can manage 600 concurrent readers. The library's collection includes a book shop, nine reading rooms, internet facilities, a separate reading room for elders, an office of special departments, conference rooms, and a children's room. Under the dome of the library, which is in the form of tulip petals, is a telescope.


An immovable three-storey artificial yurt built in 2015 for large events.

Mary is known for its regional museum.

The main football team is Merw Mary, who play at the Mary Stadium.

Notable people[edit]


International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Mary is twinned with:


  1. ^ 1929 Soviet Turkmenistan map
  2. ^ Britannica Book of the Year 2010. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2009. p. 719. ISBN 978-1-59339-232-1. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  3. ^ Population census 1989 Archived 18 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Demoscope Weekly, No. 359–360, 1–18 January 2009 (search for Туркменская ССР) (in Russian)
  4. ^ Atanyýazow, Soltanşa (1980). Түркменистаның Географик Атларының Дүшүндиришли Сөзлүги [Explanatory Dictionary of Geographic Names in Turkmenistan]. Ashgabat: Ылым. p. 205.
  5. ^ The Country of the Turkomans. London: Oguz Press and the Royal Geographical Society. 1977. ISBN 0-905820-01-0., Chapter 15, O'Donovan, Edmund, Merv and Its Surroundings, lecture delivered in 1882.
  6. ^ On Secret Service East of Constantinople by Peter Hopkirk, John Murray, 1994
  7. ^ "МАРЫ". Большая советская энциклопедия (in Russian) (3 ed.). (online version)
  8. ^ "Petroleum Geology and Resources of the Amu-Darya Basin". 2004. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  9. ^ Гостеприимство древнего и вечно юного города
  10. ^ Туркменский город Мары получил сертификат культурной столицы СНГ
  11. ^ "Золотой век".
  12. ^ "К услугам жителей Марыйского велаята открылась областная библиотека - Интернет-газета Turkmenistan.Ru".
  13. ^ Президент Туркменистана принял участие в открытии нового здания Марыйской велаятской библиотеки