SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SPUTNIK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aral Sea. Fishing boat on the Aral Sea before its destruction. The Aral Sea was a lake lying between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south. Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world, with an area of 26,300 sq miles, the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 2007, it had declined to 10% of its original size. By 2009, the south eastern lake had disappeared and the south western lake had retreated to a thin strip at the extreme west of the former southern sea. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called one of the planet's worst environmental disasters and the region's once prosperous fishing.
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