A map of UzbekistanMost of Uzbekistan is made up of a dry desert called the Kyzyl Kum. Its vast, sandy plains stretch into neighbouring Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well. The high, snow-capped mountains of the Gissar Range rise in the southeast of the country. In the northwest, Uzbekistan shares the Aral Sea with Kazakhstan. Once an enormous inland sea, today most of its waters have dried up with the result that it is now a fraction of its original size. During summer, Uzbekistan’s climate is extremely hot and dry. Winters are very cold; temperatures can fall to as low as -38°C (-36°F).
Uzbekistan is by far the most populous Central Asian country. About 80% of the population are ethnic Uzbeks, descended from Turkic peoples who were among the first inhabitants of Central Asia. The rest are mainly Russians and Tajiks. Although Uzbek is the main language, many people can also speak Russian. Most of Uzbekistan’s people live in towns and villages in the country’s northeastern corner, near the capital Tashkent. In the mountains, farmers grow pomegranates and almonds as well as raise sheep and cattle.
Uzbekistan is one of only two “doubly landlocked” countries in the world. All the other countries that surround it are landlocked too. The only other one is tiny Liechtenstein.
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