Aral Sea

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The Aral Sea (Kazakh: Арал Теңізі (Aral Tengizi), Uzbek: Orol dengizi, Russian: Аральскοе мοре) is a lake in Central Asia; it lies between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south. Since the 1960s the Aral Sea has been shrinking. The rivers that feed it (the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya) were used by the Soviet Union for irrigation. The Aral Sea is heavily polluted, largely as the result of weapons testing, industrial projects, and fertilizer runoff before and after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

There is a project to save at least the northern part of the Aral Sea. For this, a dam was built in the 1990 to stop water running off. Climate improved in the following years, and water levels rose again. However, that dam broke, and is currently being rebuilt with international funding.

Another problem was that the Island of Rebirth had been used for the testing of biological weapons until 1993. It is currently contaminated with Anthrax, the Plague, and Tularemia. Since 2001, this is no longer an island, but a peninsula.