Turkmenistan, low on visitors, opens striking new airport

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) " The capital of Turkmenistan, a country largely closed to outsiders, has opened a $2.3 billion terminal at its international airport in the shape of a flying falcon.

The terminal, whose roof in profile resembles a bird with spread wings, adds to Ashgabat's vast array of idiosyncratic buildings.

The terminal that officially opened on Saturday is designed to process at least 1,600 passengers every hour.

Strict visa regulations in Turkmenistan mean relatively small numbers of tourists and businessmen ever visit the isolated, energy-rich Central Asian nation.

In 2013, the Guinness World Records recognized Ashgabat as having the greatest density of marble-clad buildings " estimated at more than 540. Many official buildings are noteworthy for literal or eccentric designs. The state publishing house, for example, is in the shape of a book.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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