Drying of the Aral Sea. Aerial photograph of the delta of the Amou Darya river, following the drying up of the Aral Sea. This large river was more than 2600 kilometres in length and a kilometre wide, and the delta contained more than 50 lakes. Today, it is a comparative trickle. The Aral Sea, an inland sea that was once one of the largest in the world, is in the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In the 1930s the Soviet Union dug canals that diverted the sea's major rivers, including this one, to irrigate cotton fields. From the 1960s, the sea started to shrink, and by 2004 some 75 percent of the sea's area had been lost.
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