The present inhabitants of the oasis are Turkomans of the Tekke tribe.
After capturing Angora from a horde of Turkomans encamped there who were attacking his dominions, at first with some success, Mur ad 1, in 1361 Murad prepared for a campaign in Europe.
They speak Turkish and profess to be Moslems, but have no mosques or imams. The Turkomans have villages in which they spend the winter, wandering over the great plains of the interior with their flocks and herds during the summer.
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 nomad Turkomans and the nomad Kirghiz are also of Turkish origin; while the Sarts, who constitute the bulk of the population in the towns, are a mixture of Turks with Iranians.
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.
Four times was Herat sacked by Turkomans and Usbegs during the centuries which intervened between the Timuride princes and the rise of the Afghan power, and it has never in modern times attained to anything like its old importance.
Animals in the steppe the first place belongs to the camel; next come goat and sheep (not the ordinary fat-tailed variety); the common buffalo is often kept by the Arabs and the Turkomans on the Euphrates and the Tigris; on the Euphrates is found the Indian zebu.
The Turkomans possess a famous breed of horses and keep camels, sheep, cattle, asses and mules.
There is a considerable trade in grain; but the commercial prosperity of Karshi is mainly due to its being a meeting-point for the roads from Samarkand, Bokhara, Hissar, Balkh and Maimana, and serves as the market where the Turkomans and Uzbegs dispose of their carpets, knives and firearms. Its coppersmiths turn out excellent work.