Among the most important values for the Turkmen are friendship, love and, most of all, family. They are known for their hospitality, honesty and sincerity, and for their generosity. Turkmen tend to dress smartly and it is not uncommon to see the men in slick suits and ties. Decades of atheism have removed most barriers of access for females and non-Muslims alike but still, even though they are active in the business world or at least employed outside of the home, women are still expected to maintain the home, raise the children, to be modest and to keep some distance from non-related men. Due to the resurgence of traditional culture and the Islamic faith, some traditional families still practice arranged marriages.
Turkmenistan is a Muslim country located in Central Asia bordering the Caspian Sea having gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Turkmen is the official language although Russian is still widely spoken. Over 80% of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert, which has the distinction of being one of the driest deserts on the planet. The climate is mostly arid and subtropical desert, with little rainfall. Winters are mild and dry.