With a population just more than five million people, Turkmenistan is an oil and natural-gas rich Central Asian country wedged against the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. On the surface, the country appears wealthy with Turkmenistanis provided free gas, water, and electricity. The subsidized price of oil is around $0.20 per liter.
Former President Saparmurat Niyazov, who branded himself the father of all Turkmen, described the 21st century as the Golden Age (Altyn Asyr) for Turkmen people. After its independence from the Soviet Union, the country’s capital Ashgabat was considered a showcase of the amazing progress and richness of Turkmenistan.
Yet behind this apparent abundance another face shows very different conditions for a bulk of the Turkmen population, who live in poverty and poor conditions. This other side of the country – almost 190,000 square miles with 80 percent covered by the Karakum Desert – lives submerged in emptiness, a feeling that fills the landscape of rural Turkmenistan.
Ricard Altés Molina is a freelance photojournalist based in Barcelona.
Due for demolition and reconstruction, a house collapses in Istanbul's district of Tarlabasi. As with many mulit-story homes in the old part of Istanbul, several of the inner supports and load-bearing walls of this house were removed, forcing it to crumble into the street. No one was inside the building when it collapsed.
Jonathan Lewis is a freelance photojournalist based in Istanbul.
Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic since 1993, became an independent nation for the first time 22 years ago, when the country's Supreme Soviet, the main governing body, voted for independence from the Soviet Union.
On Aug. 31, the landlocked Central Asian country celebrated its independence with events in and around Bishkek.
At the Hippodrome, an outdoor stadium in the suburb of the capital, Independence Day celebrations centered around traditional Kyrgyz horse games, including ulak tartysh (also known as kok-boru, buzkashi, or “blue wolf”) and kyz-kumay (“kiss the girl”). Young riders showed their skills in large races as the crowd filled the stadium, standing along the walls and gathering around the edges of the track.
Back in the city center at Ala-Too Square, the celebrations continued with traditional dances and songs representing several of the ethnic communities that make up Kyrgyzstan’s population.
Christina Donnelly is a freelance photographer based in Bishkek.
A boy plays on a camel sculpture while families and tourists gather at cafes, restaurants, and shops surrounding Bukhara's Lab-i-Hauz - a square flanked by 15th- and 16th-Century madrases with its center featuring one of the few remaining pools in the ancient Silk Road city. Bukhara's old city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its several blue-tiled mosques and madrases and its history as a former center of Islamic academia, trade, and culture.
A fisherman from the village of Supsa in Guria, western Georgia, waits as his team pulls up fish from the Paliastomi Lake near the Black Sea. Poverty and unemployment lead men from the village to form teams and fish in the lake. Their catch is sold in Poti and along the side of the highway to Batumi, a major tourism destination.
Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.