Turkic people living mainly in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, counting around 7.6 million altogether. Of these, around 2.1 million live in Iran (some estimates go down to 1.1 million). There are 4.4 million in Turkmenistan, around 1 million in Afghanistan, there are also communities in Pakistan (60,000) and Russia (35,000).
The people today called Turkmens are of Western or Oghuz origins.
The term is believed to come from the Sogdian language, which by the word “-men”, the term means “like a Turk”, pointing at a claimed ethnic purity of the Turkmens.
Turkmens speak Turkmen, a Turkic language close to Turkish and Azerbaijani.
There are other names used for Turkmens too, in Iran, there are four main branches or tribes: Yomut, Goklan, Nokhorli, and Teke. The Iranian part of Turkmen lands is often called Southern Turkmenistan or Turkmensahra Iranian Turkmen remain semi-nomadic, while permanent agriculture is of great importance to their economy.
Turkmens are generally Muslims of both the Sunni and Shi’i branches, in Iran mainly Sunnis. Many also belong to Naqshbandieh Sufism.
Historically, the Turkmens of Iran has been in clear opposition to the governments of Teheran.
In their culture, certain traditions survive strongly into the modern age, as the high dowry paid for a bride. Before, as well as now, bridal kidnapping is a popular method of avoiding this high expense.
Middle 11th century: A Oghuz tribe establishes what would become the strongest power in the Middle East, the Seljuq Dynasty.
Late 11th century: Another Turkmen dynasty emerges, the Khwarezmian which soon would challenge the Seljuqs.
1194: End of the Iranian Seljuq state, the Khwarezmian emerging as its replacement.
1220: End of the Khwarezmian Dynasty, due to the Mongol invasion of their heartlands.
1881: Treaty of Alkhal divides the lands of the Turkmen between Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan.
1991: Independence for Turkmenistan creating a national state for somewhat more than half of the Turkmens.