According to historical tradition, only a few large lakes of the world are called seas. Until recently, one of the largest such lakes was the Aral Sea, located on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. However, in the second half of the 20th age, the real tragedy happened: the mere began to dry up rapidly.

For many years, the Aral Sea was considered quite prosperous, it was the fourth largest in the world, covering an area of about 68 thousand square km, the length was 426 km, width - 284 km, maximum depth - 68 m. 34 species of fish lived here, catching in the best of times reached 60 thousand tons per year. Fish processing was carried out by more than a dozen factories.

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The harbinger of future contretemps was the largescale construction of irrigation canals in the 1930s, primarily cotton plantations. Their areas were growing rapidly, respectively; the volume of consumed water was growing, which was taken from the two main suppliers of the Sea - the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. This selectionmeasured up its peak in the 60s. Not surprisingly, the lake chalked rapidly.

In 1989, the sea split into two isolated bodies of water - the Small and Big Aral Sea. In fact, by the beginning of this century, only 10 percent of the area and a quarter of its volume remained from the lapsed sea.

The drying up of the sea adversely affected the climate of the region. In summer it became hotter, colder in winter, and humidity decreased much. Salinity increased almost 10 times due to shallowing, almost all types of fish disappeared, except for the only one - flounder. A huge area, about 54 thousand square km, of the former bottom was covered with sand and salt.

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But scientists argue that it is not necessary to blame only a human being for all troubles. In the thousandyear history of the sea, there were periods when it dried up to its current level, and then again returned to its quondam shores. The reason is cyclical climate change. According to some estimates, the contribution of this natural factor to the current shallowing of the Aral Sea is approximately the same as human activity. Recently, archaeologists found settlements of the 16th century on the exposed bottom. So, there was land and people lived, which, incidentally, is described in the history of the region. And the most severe shallowing occurred 2000 years ago, when the level of the Aral Sea was even lower. So, the Aral may still be back. But when this happens, no one knows.

Despite all the tragedy, thousands of tourists are eager to take Aral Sea tour tour. Someone is seduced by the desert, someone is a pile of wrecked ships. Many scientists are attracted to the environmental situation and ways to solve the problem. And there are romantic people who just want to feel the atmosphere of this unique place.

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waqas