Turkmenistan should be a good place to live. With only 5 million residents and the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world, it should have high median incomes. Yet, reports are circulating that residents are being forbidden from boarding airplanes and leaving the country (the government denies this).
Turkmenistan is another example of the Resource Curse. Because of political differences, neither Russia or Iran will buy Turkmenistan's gas, leaving China as their only customer. Selling to the Chinese required an expensive pipeline and the Turkeminstan government borrowed the money from Chinese banks. Now a large portion of their gas revenues go right back to China to repay interest on the pipeline loans. Further restricting government budgets are billions of dollars being held in private European bank accounts. The government has also wasted money on white elephants, like a falcon-shaped airport at Ashgabat.
Turkmenistan enforces an official exchange rate of 3.5 manats to the dollar (the unofficial rate is more like 25 manats to the dollar). Citizens have their manat withdrawals restricted and lines at the state-owned supermarkets are long with lots of shortages. Unemployment is estimated to be as high as 60%.