To the furthest reaches of Turkmenistan's west, the city of Turkmenbashi sits on the coast of the Caspian Sea, backed by low mountains and looking across the gulf to Azerbaijan. An important and busy port town, formerly known under the Russians as Krasnovodsk, it was renamed in 1993 to mean "the start [or spring] of the Turkmen".
Sitting on the coast, the port of Turkmenbashi is rocky and not ideal for swimming, however, the nearby seaside town and beach of Awaza is one of the most popular holiday spots in the country. Marking the end of the Caucasus and the gateway to Turkmenistan, Turkmenbashi and the Balkan province of which it is an important administrative center have a more Russian feel than the rest of the country. The Russian Orthodox church is a good example as well as the memorials commemorating those who died during World War II, while the city was still Krasnovodsk. Older local history can be discovered, however, at the Regional Lore Museum.