In 1153 the Ghuzz Turkomans overran the country and partly destroyed town and suburbs.
A few weeks after his accession he sanctioned the annexation of the territory of the Tekke Turkomans, which had been conquered by General Skobelev, and in 1884 he formally annexed the Mer y oasis without military operations.
Since 1890 the Turkomans who impeded trade by their perpetual raids have been kept more in check, and with the decrease of insecurity the commercial activity of Astarabad has increased considerably.
The higher parts of the plains, which are deeply trenched by the upper tributaries of the rivers, are inhabited by various Caucasian races - Kabardians and Cherkesses (Circassians) in the west, Ossetes in the middle, and several tribal elements from Daghestan, described under the general name of Chechens, in the east; while nomadic Nogai Tatars and Turkomans occupy the steppes.
But while the province in many parts presents a landscape of luxuriant beauty, it is a prey to the ravages of disease, principally malarial fevers due to the extensive swamps formed by waters stagnating in the forests, and to the frequent incursions of the Goklan and Yomut Turkomans, who have their camping-grounds in the northern part of the province, and until about 1890 plundered caravans sometimes at the very gates of Astarabad city, and carried people off into slavery and bondage.