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Central Asia covers an essential part of the Asian part of the planet. Its area makes up more than 1295 thousand square km, which is larger than Germany, France and Great Britain in total size. Central Asian territory spreads from the Caspian Sea on the west to the borders with China on the East and from the Aral-Irtysh watershed in the north to the border with Iranand Afganistan in the south. Its western and northern regions are represented by vast valleys, deserts and dry steppes surrounded by the Pamir-and-Alay and Tien-Shen mountain ranges on the east, some of whose peaks are the highest in the region and reach 7.5 kmabove sea level.

Nevertheless,Central Asia is far from being just a geographical definition. Primarily, it is a large historical and cultural region, having a twenty-five century long history. It's a region with an ordered particular historical and cultural community, different from that of other regions. The following republics are included in Central Asia: Turkmenistan, which spreads from the Caspian Sea to the middle reaches of the one of the largest central Asian rivers, the Amu-Darya (Vakhsh in ancient times, Oxus in Greek, and Jeihun in the Middle Ages); Karakalpakistan, within the Republic of Uzbekistan, located on the lower part of the Amu-Darya river; Uzbekistan covers the central part between the two rivers (named as Maverannahr in the Middle Ages) i.e. the lands between the two biggest central Asian rivers, the Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya. Tadjikistan is situated to the south-east and Kyrgyzstanto the north-east. During its centuries-long history, the region was firmly connected with the lands of the present Southern Kazakhstan in terms of history and culture.

The desert areas of Central Asia are characterized by a continental climate and intensive insulation, extreme air aridity, and little precipitation. Its remoteness from any oceans, the major source of humidity, little atmospheric precipitation, high summer temperatures, and prolonged dry periods have caused the formation of the vast desert regions here.

The Karakalpakistan border is located on the Turan lowland. Kara-Kum desert is on the south-west, and Ustyurt plateau is on the north-west; Kyzyl-Kumdesert is on the north-east. He Karakalpakistan territory comprises the southern half of the Aral sea, a new saline desert Aral-Kum is being formed on its dry bottom, and the lower part of the Amu-Darya river.

The deserts in Karakalpakistan cover 13.67 million hectares, which is more than 80% of its territory. The Aral Sea environment gradually and slowly evolved and was the location of the Mesozoic-Kainazoi seas, precipitation and alluvial layers accumulation brought from the mountains. This caused the formation of the vast bedded and alluvial plains. The cretaceous tertiary and quaternary deposits took part in their formation. Cretaceous rocks were formed by the sea and continental formations, represented by sand and clay in the Tokmakata, Kulandy peninsulas, Aktumcyk cape, Beltau, Kuskanstau, Sultanuizdag, and other Paleozoic and secondary layers and crystalline rock outcrops. The north-western parts of the desert are much younger in geological terms, i.e. the Ustyurt plateau is of the late tertiary period.The Barkhan sands represent a typical desert illustration. The territory of the present republic of karakalpakistan is a kind of "Archeological reserve".

More than 300 archeological sites are located there. This place was called Khoresm in ancient times.

(Photo by sovminrk.gov.uz)

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