also spelled Kara-Kalpakstan, or Qaraqalpaqstan,
also called Karakalpakiya, and in Uzbek Qoraqalpoghistan.
The Republic of Karakalpakstan is located in the northwest of Uzbekistan in the lower bench of the river Amudarya, along the southwestern shore of the Aral Sea. The central part consists of the valley and delta of the Amu Darya (river), a low-lying area intersected by watercourses and canals.
These plains transforming into the plateau Ustyurt a slightly undulating area characterised byflat summits rising to 300m above sea leve. In the southwest it transforms into the Karakum desert, and in the east – into the Kyzylkums Desert. The Sultan-Uvays mountsind rise in the southeast. It borders with the Republic of Kazakhstan in the north, northeast and west; with the Republic of Turkmenistan in the south and southeast; and with Navoi and Khorezm Provinces of Uzbekistan in the east and southeast.
The climate in Karakalpakstan is sharply continental with hot and dry summer and cold winter with some negligent precipitation. Average rainfall is only 75 to 100 mm. Average temperature in January varies from –5 to –8ºС. Minimum temperature during winter fall down to –38 С. Average temperature in June varies from +26 to +28ºС, and in July and August - +50ºС.
The Republic of Karakalpakstan is a sovereign republic in the structure of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and has its own Constitution, emblem, flag and anthem. Karakalpak and Uzbek languages are official languages of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Russian language is also widespread.The Karakalpaks are closely allied to the Kazaks. Like many other Turkic peoples, they are of obscure origin. The first historical reference to them dates from the end of the 16th century.
During the 18th century they settled in the Amu Darya region, came partly under Russian rule in 1873, and by 1920 were totally incorporated into the Soviet Union.
Karakalpakstan was established as an autonomous oblast (province) of the Kazakh ASSR in 1924/25. Karakalpakstan came under the administration of the Russian S.F.S.R. in 1930 and two years later was constituted as an autonomous republic. In 1936, while retaining its status, it was made a part of the Uzbek S.S.R. and became part of Uzbekistan with that country’s independence in 1991.
The population is composed mainly of Karakalpaks, Uzbeks, and Kazaks, with smaller numbers of Turkmens and Russians. About one-half of the population is urban. Nukus, the capital, Khŭjayli, Beruniy, Takhiatosh, Chimbay, Tŭrtkŭl, and Altykyl are the chief settlements.
The economy is predominantly agricultural. The industrial sector, while limited, includes light manufacturing, refineries that process oil from nearby petroleum fields, several building-materials plants that utilize the limestone, gypsum, asbestos, marble, and quartzite of the area, and a power station in Takhiatosh. Cotton is cultivated along the Amu Darya and in its delta and is processed at Chimbay, Qŭnghirot, Beruniy, Takhtakupyr, Khŭjayli, and Mangit.
A well-developed system of irrigation canals supplies water from the Amu Darya to the crops. Besides cotton, crops include alfalfa, rice, and corn (maize). Cattle and Karakul sheep are raised in the Kyzylkum Desert.
Laying as it does along both the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya delta, Karakalpakstan by the late 20th century had become one of the areas worst affected by the drying up of the Aral Sea. Much of the republic’s farmland had become heavily salinized owing to the effects of over-irrigation and to salt dust from the exposed bed of the receding Aral Sea. The shrinkage of the Aral Sea almost eliminated the republic’s fisheries and resulted in a harsher climate and a shorter growing season.
Transport facilities in the republic include a railway from Qŭnghirot to Chärjew in Turkmenistan, motor roads that link several cities of the republic, and air connections with Moscow, Tashkent and other cities. Area 63,900 square miles (165,600square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 1,678,191.Population density 9.6 persons per 1 thousand sq. km.
Administrative and territorial division of the republic is represented by 14 rayons (districts): Amudarya, Beruniy, Kanlykul, Karauzyak, Kegeili, Kungrad, Muynak, Nukus, Takhtakupir, Turtkul, Khodjeili, Chimbay, Shumanay and Ellikkal’a Rayons. Nukus, modern industrial center with well-developed infrastructure, is the capital city of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, and its population is 264,400 people (2007) followed by Khodjeili, Takhiatash, Beruniy, Turtkul and Kungrad.
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica.