Uzbekistan: Geography

Figure 1.--This is a a magic lattern slide, probanbly from the 1900s. It is marked "Bagdad, the OPersian Gulf, and Bokhara". It seems an unlikely combination especially Bokhara, the common denominator being deserts. Bokhara was the 19th cebntury spelling for Bukhara, a city in central Uzbekistan. It is a city that is a living museum. There is evidence that the area has been inhabited for five millennia. West of the city, Uzbekistan is largely desert.

Uzbekistan is today an independent country in central Asia. It is one of the countries formed fron the former Soviet Central Asian republics. It is located north of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is also the only Central Asian 'stan' state to border all of the other four. It is located east of the Caspian sea, but does not border on it. The disappearing Aral Sea is located in the northwest. The smaller Sarygamysh Lake in the south is an inland body. Until the 17th century, Lake Sarygamysh was fed by the Uzboy River, a distributary of the Amu Darya River, which continued on to the Caspian Sea. Its main source of water is now a canal from the Amu Darya but also the runoff water from surrounding irrigated lands, which contain high levels of pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals. It is ne of thre most populted llake in the world. It also contributes to the drying up of the Aral Sea. This and many other 'unintended' lakes, such as Aydar Lake on the Syr Darya, were created by the Soviet planners ignboring environmental issues. They deny the Aral Sea about 150 cubic kilometers of annual inflow of water. It apeaars to be the major cause of the Aral Sea drying up. Uzbeckistan has no direct link to the oceans. Uzbekistan has been described as a 'doubly landlocked' country, meaning a country surrounded by other landlocked countries. There are no other signifucant other diubly labndlocked countries--only tiny Liechtenstein. Uzbekistan is drained by the Amu Darya and the Sid Darya Rivers. The west is dominated by the Kizil Kum desert. Fertile lands are located in the east, including the Fergana Valley and a number of important oasis (Khiva, Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. Important cities are centered in these oasis. The coutry is notable for famed trading cities on the Silk Road. Over half of Uzbek territory is covered by desert: the Kyzylkum, Ustyurt desert plateau and the new Aralkum or White Desert. The deserts are located in the country’s north-west. It is here the arid conditions arre most severe. These vast lands are virtually uninhabited,. A few small towns appear in the few oases and along the banks of the Amu Darya River. The Aralkum Desert formed on the former bottom of the Aral Sea. It was formed because of Soviet effiorts to use the area fir agriculture, setting in motion an environmental disaster. It is notable that the worst envirionmental dissters of modern times occurred in sociialist, not communist countries. This is just one of many examples, although the most severe.


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Created: 8:26 PM 8/15/2018
Last updated: 8:26 PM 8/15/2018