Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Photo : Deserts of Central Asia - Credit NASA
The satellite image above shows both the Kara Kum and Kyzyl Kum deserts. In addition the Aral Sea (upper left); and the delta of the Amu Darya (centre left). The Kyzil Kum lies to the east of the Amu Darya River and the Kara Kum to the west. These two great deserts of Central Asia the Kyzyl Kum (Red Sands) and the Kara Kum (Black Sands) for a long time served to isolate the interior of Asia due to the physical difficulty of traversing across such  unforgiving water-less plains.

Photo: Kyzyl Kum Desert

The Kyzyl Kum (aka Kizil Km, Kizylkum, Qizilqum, Қызылқум, etc.) is split between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  It has an area of about 300,000 square km and lies between the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya (rivers), southeast of the Aral Sea. It consists of a plain sloping down toward the northwest, with a number of isolated bare mountains rising to 922 m and several large enclosed basins. Precipitation 100–200 mm annually, occurs mainly in winter and spring. Mostly it is covered with sand ridges on which many desert plants grow, these serve as pasture for Karakul sheep, horses, and camels. There are several small oasis settlements. Important natural-gas deposits and gold are also found within its territory.
Photo: Amu Darya
The Kyzyl Kum (Red Sand) desert, separated from the Kara Kum (Black Sand) desert by the waters of the Amu Darya River. Only a small part of the Kara Kum (aka Karakum, Garagum, Каракумы etc.) desert is in Uzbekistan, however it encompasses well over half the land area of Turkmenistan.
 Photo: Kara Kum Desert
The Karakum is approximately 350,000 sq km in area, extending some 800 km from west to east and 500 km from north to south. It is bordered on the north by the Sarykamysh Basin, on the northeast and east by the Amu Darya, and on the southeast by the Garabil uplands and Badkhyz steppe region. In the south and southwest the desert  runs along the foot of the Kopet-Dag mountains, and in the east and northwest it borders the course of the ancient valley of the Uzboy River.

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