Official name: Republic of Uzbekistan
Area: 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Adelunga Toghi (4,301 meters/14,111 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sariqarnish Kuli (12 meters/39 feet below sea level)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 5 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: Not available
Land boundaries: 6,221 kilometers (3,866 miles) total boundary length; Afghanistan 137 kilometers (85 miles); Kazakhstan 2,203 k'ilometers (1,369 miles); Kyrgyzstan 1,099 kilometers (683 miles); Tajikistan 1,161 kilometers (721 miles); Turkmenistan 1,621 kilometers (1,007 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, located north of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, west of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and south and east of Kazakhstan. With an area of 447,400 square kilometers (172,741 square miles), it is somewhat larger than the state of California. Nearly 40 percent of western Uzbekistan is known as the Qoraqalpogh Autonomous Republic (known also as Qoraqalpoghistan or Karakalpakstan).
Uzbekistan has no territories or dependencies.
Uzbekistan is a hot, dry country with long summers and mild winters. It has a continental climate, with definite seasonal variations as well as significant differences in weather during the day and at night. July (summer) high temperatures are generally between 26°C and 32°C (79°F and 90°F) but can soar much higher. January highs are usually between -6°C to 2°C (21°F to 36°F). Most precipitation falls during March and April; droughts commonly occur during Uzbekistan's long, hot summers. Although snow falls regularly in the winter months, it seldom accumulates and soon melts. Overall, precipitation is light, with only the best-watered areas receiving more than 30 centimeters (12 inches) of rain or snow annually.
Uzbekistan's varied terrain includes high mountains and semiarid grasslands in the east, and lowlands and a predominantly flat plateau region in the west. In the center lies the vast Kyzyl Kum, one of the world's largest deserts.
Uzbekistan is landlocked, with no ocean coasts or islands. It does surround the southern half of the Aral Sea, with 420 kilometers (260 miles) of shoreline. Despite its name, however, the Aral Sea is technically a land-locked saltwater lake, not a sea.
The southern half of the Aral Sea is located in northwestern Uzbekistan, with the rest in Kazakhstan. The lake's salty water and large size have led to its being called a sea, but because it lacks an outlet to the ocean, it is technically a lake. Lake Aydarkul in eastern Uzbekistan is the largest freshwater lake in the country. Lake Sarygamysh extends into the country from Turkmenistan in the southwest.
The depletion of the Aral Sea is considered one of the worst ecological disasters in the world. As recently as the 1960s, it was the world's fourth-largest lake. Since then, massive irrigation withdrawals have reduced the lake to only half its former size.
There are three significant rivers in Uzbeki-stan: the Amu Dar'ya, the Syr Dar'ya, and the Zeravshan. All of these rivers originate in the high mountains east of Uzbekistan. The Amu Dar'ya, the largest of the three, flows west along the southern border with Afghanistan, then curves northwest into Turkmenistan. Further north it becomes the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Near the city of Nukus it turns north and spreads out into a delta. The Syr Dar'ya enters the country from Kyrgyzstan in the northeast and flows west through the fertile Fergana Valley. It cuts across the spur of northern Tajikistan, then turns north back through Uzbekistan and into Kazakhstan. The Zeravshan enters the country from the mountains of Tajikistan to the east, then arcs across southeast Uzbekistan.
The Kyzyl Kum desert (named for the red sand that covers most of it) occupies an immense area of some 298,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles), making it the largest desert in Central Asia. It extends southeast of the Aral Sea, between the valleys of the Amu Dar'ya and Syr Dar'ya, and the bulk of it is located in Uzbekistan. It is an extremely arid and inhospitable area. Another desert, the Mirzachol, lies southwest of the capital, Tashkent, in northeastern Uzbekistan.
The western two-thirds of Uzbekistan consists predominantly of flat steppe and desert terrain, with mountains and the fertile Fergana Valley in the east.
In the east and northeast, Uzbekistan is predominantly mountainous. In the northeast, the Tian Shan extends into the country from the east. Further south, on the far side of the Fergana Valley, are the Alai Mountains, which belong to the Pamirs. Both ranges are tall, reaching up to 4,301 meters (14,111 feet) at Adelunga Toghi, and rising even higher further to the east in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
With a depth of 1,415 meters (4,643 feet), the Boj-Bulok cave is one of the deepest in the world.
West and south of the Aral Sea is the Ustyurt (Ust' Urt) Plateau, a well-defined upland broken up by occasional small mountain ridges. It extends west from the shores of the Aral Sea to the Caspian Sea coastline in Kazakhstan. Its area is roughly 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles).
Uzbekistan has extensive canal systems, most of which were built when the country was part of the former Soviet Union. The Amu-Bukhara canal is the most notable of these.
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MacLeod, Calum. Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkind. New York: Odyssey Publications, 1999.
Malcomson, Scott L. Borderlands: Nation and Empire. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1994.
Advantour: Uzbekistan. http://www.advantour.com/uzbekistan/ (accessed April 17, 2003).
Lonely Planet: Destination Uzbekistan. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/central_asia/uzbekistan/ (accessed April 17, 2003).