Nature of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's nature is unique and extremely diverse. Uzbekistan occupies a vast area in the very heart of Central Asia, with the largest part of the country lying between the rivers Amudarya and Syrdarya. The territory of Uzbekistan spreads from Ustyurt Plateau in the west to as far as Ferghana Valley in the east, and is 447,4 thousand square kilometers in area. Uzbekistan borders Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
Mountains of Uzbekistan refer to the mountain systems of the Western Tien Shan and Southern Tien Shan (Gissar-Alay, including Turkestan, Zaravshan, Gissar, Karategin, Alay ridges). The high of the mountains on the territory of Uzbekistan reaches more than 4000 m., but all picks of 4000 m, high are situated in the boundary regions. For example, Khazrat-Sultan Pick the highest point in Uzbekistan (4643 m.) in Gissar ridge, located in Surhandarya region borders on Tajikistan. Adelung Pick (4301 m.) is the highest point in Pskem ridge and borders on Kyrgyzstan, as well as Beshtor Pick (4299 m.).

Desert of Uzbekistan Over half of the Uzbek territory is covered by desert: the Kyzylkum, Ustyurt desert plateau and Aralkum formed on the former bottom of the Aral Sea. They are located in the countrys north-west, gradually descending from east to west. These vast lands are virtually uninhabited, small towns and cities can only be found in rare oases and on the banks of the Amu Darya River. The Kyzylkum is one of the most extensive deserts in Asia. The desert is situated between the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers. Most of the Kyzylkum desert lies in the territory of Uzbekistan, with only a small portion of it extending to the territory of Kazakhstan. The Kyzylkum desert occupies an area of 300 thousand sq km and is bordered by the Syrdarya river from the northeast, by the Amudarya from the southwest, by the spurs of the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alay mountain ranges (Nurata Range) from the east, and by the Aral Sea and the Aralkum desert, a desert that has formed on the bottom of the former Aral Sea, from the northwest. The Kyzylkum desert is a plain sloping generally northwestward (with an average elevation of 300 m above sea level in the southeast and 53 m in the northwest). The desert has a number of extensive closed depressions and isolated deeply-cut mountain ranges Bukantau (764 m), Kuljuktau (up to 785 m), Tamdytau (972 m) and others. The largest portion of the desert is comprised of sand partially covered with vegetation, with some small areas of bare sand, however. Most of the sand ridges have a south-north orientation. The ridges rise 3 to 30 m above the surrounding area, some reaching even 75 m, though. The northwest part of the Kyzylkum desert features extensive clay areas (takyr) and areas of saline soil (solonchak). Ustyurt Plateau is the most mysterious and least researched destination in Uzbekistan. Although the area of the plateau is 200,000 square kilometers, there are no rivers or lakes. Even the water obtained from the wells there is somewhat bitter and salty there. The flora is, therefore, quite scarce; the whole plateau is covered with poor wormwood or saltwort. However, people have not always avoided the plateau. They discovered over 60 settlement sites of the Neolithic Age. There are archeological evidence of the Scythians and Mongols staying in Ustyurt. A large number of caravan trade routes connecting Asia and Europe ran through the plateau. Only a small number of architectural monuments dating back to the times of classical antiquity survive there: the ruins of a lone arch of Beliuli Caravanserai; Ustyurt Plateau. Deserts of Asiathe ruins of Alan-Kala Fortress, whose walls were four meters in height and 2 meters in width; and a few others. This is a new desert in Uzbekistan, located in place of the former bottom of the Aral Sea. Because of the abundance of salt it is sometimes called Akkum, translated as white desert. The Aral Sea began drying in the 1960-s, today this process is still going on. To date, the new desert area is estimated to reach 38,000 m2 and its size gradually increases. However, the Aral Sea is known to begin drying out hundreds of thousands years ago and one beautiful day the Aralkum desert will disappear the same way as it once appeared.

Rivers The country's rivers are fed by mountain snow. lt is not a main source for mountain rivers though. During winter, underground waters usually fill the rivers. Two big rivers flow across the country: the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya. The middle and lower reaches of the Amu Darya River (about 1,415 km) and the middle reaches of the Syr Darya River (2,212 km) run along the territory of Uzbekistan. Small rivers in the country are: Naryn, Kara Darya, Sokh, Zarafshan, Kashka Darya, Surkhan Darya, and Sherabad.

Flora Uzbekistans flora contains more than 3,700 species of plants. Plants endemic to Uzbekistan make up 20% of all plants; and a majority of these grow in mountains. Steppes and deserts are home to a variety of bushes, and the low plains house well developed wooden, bushy, and grassy plants. The country's sub mountainous plains are characterized by grass, no trees, with small bushes are found among bodies of water. Various species of onion, tulips, rhubarb, and irises grow in sub-mountainous regions. Uzbekistan's high foothills feature motley grasses. Deciduous trees such as almond, cherry, birch, hawthorn, maple, pistachio, poplar, wild apple, walnut, and willow trees are widespread. The lower mountains are rich in bushes: barberry, dog-rose, meadow-sweet, honeysuckle, and wild grape. Grasses are also very diverse, including muscat sage, rhubarb, tulip, Pskem onion.

Fauna In Uzbekistan, one can find many representatives of Asian fauna. Mammals include bears, wolves, snow leopards, deer, various species of billy-goats and mountain sheep. Rodents, like big-eared hedgehogs, ermine, vixen hares and stone martens populate the countryside. Reptiles including sand boas, Central Asian cobras and sledge runners thrive. Birds like jays, shrikes, mountain finches, grand turtle-doves, bearded vultures, and pheasants can be spotted outside of urban areas. Nearly 70 species of fishes may be found in reservoirs including Amudarya trout and Aral salmon, roach, and barbel.