Turkmenistan hopes 'Door to Hell' will boost tourism
Published on Jun 20, 2014 11:58 AM
KARAKUM DESERT (Turkmenistan) (AFP) - Locals call it the Door to Hell, a giant burning pit that has spit out angry flames for more than 40 years, casting a yellow-orange glow into the evening sky.
"It takes your breath away," said visitor Gozel Yazkulieva, 34, from the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat. "You immediately think of your sins and feel like praying."
Few foreigners have seen the crater in the heart of the Karakum, one of the world's largest deserts, although Turkmen authorities are hoping to change that as they seek ways to bolster tiny visitor numbers to the former Soviet republic.
Still one of the world's most isolated countries almost a quarter-century after the fall of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan welcomes just 12,000 to 15,000 tourists from around 50 countries each year.
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