Founded in 1937, Mary is the capital city of Mary Province and the third largest city of Turkmenistan. Lying in the southeast, Mary is also an important foreign trade port. It has about 150,000 people.    

It was occupied by Imperial Russia in 1884, triggering the Panjdeh Incident between English forces and the Imperial Russian Army. The two sides came to an agreement the following year and ascribed Mary to Russia.

Mary is a city with ancient civilization. It is also a node city on the Silk Road, with the famous remains of the ancient city Merv (an oasis city on the Silk Road) on the outskirts.

Mary was developed originally as a center for cotton production. In 1968, the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas turned the city into a mining town. Besides, light industry and food processing are also very important parts of its economy. The other industries include cotton ginning, wool scouring, textile, shoes, sewing, oil extracting, meat processing, brewing, carpet, machinery, metal processing, etc.

Mary is an important cultural city of Turkmenistan, holding cultural and educational institutes like a hygiene school, a normal school, a theater and a historical museum.

On May 12, 2014, Mary concluded sister-city relationship with Xi’an and the other twinned cities include Istanbul of Turkey, Jeddah of Saudi Arabia and Samarkand of Uzbekistan.