Monday, April 07, 2008

Geography - Central Asia

Today we take a look at five nations that Americans don't think about too often. The largest of these is Kazakhstan, about which we posted a while back (flag #69). Now we look at four of its neighbors as well.
Kazakhstan lies in the north of the central Asian republics and is bounded by Russia in the north, China in the east, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the south, and the Caspian Sea and part of Turkmenistan in the west. It has almost 1,177 mi (1,894 km) of coastline on the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan is about four times the size of Texas. The territory is mostly steppe land with hilly plains and plateaus. [source]

The capital is Astana and the monetary unit is the Tenge.

Uzbekistan is situated in central Asia between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers, the Aral Sea, and the slopes of the Tien Shan Mountains. It is bounded by Kazakhstan in the north and northwest, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the east and southeast, Turkmenistan in the southwest, and Afghanistan in the south. The republic also includes the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, with its capital, Nukus (1992 est. pop., 182,000). The country is about one-tenth larger in area than the state of California. [source]
The capital and largest city is Tashkent and the monetary unit is the Uzbekistan sum. The literacy rate is 99%. [Apologies for the western music on the video below]

Turkmenistan (formerly Turkmenia) is bounded by the Caspian Sea in the west, Kazakhstan in the north, Uzbekistan in the east, and Iran and Afghanistan in the south. About nine-tenths of Turkmenistan is desert, chiefly the Kara-Kum. One of the world's largest sand deserts, it is approximately 138,966 sq mi (360,000 sq km). [source]

The capital and largest city is Ashgabat (variously spelled) and the monetary unit is the Manat.

Snow and glaciers anyone?
Kyrgyzstan (formerly Kirghizia) is a rugged country with the Tien Shan mountain range covering approximately 95% of the whole territory. The mountaintops are perennially covered with snow and glaciers. Kyrgyzstan borders Kazakhstan on the north and northwest, Uzbekistan in the southwest, Tajikistan in the south, and China in the southeast. The republic is the same size in area as the state of Nebraska. [source]

Bishkek is the capital and largest city and the Som is the monetary unit.

Ninety-three percent of Tajikistan's territory is mountainous, and the mountain glaciers are the source of its rivers. Tajikistan is an earthquake-prone area. The republic is bounded by China in the east, Afghanistan to the south, and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to the west and north. The central Asian republic also includes the Gorno-Badakh Shan Autonomous region. Tajikistan is slightly larger than the state of Illinois. [source]
Dushanbe is the capital and largest city and the monetary unit is the Somoni.

The surrounding countries of this group of five include Russia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. We should probably mention the Caspian Sea also, as it is the "largest enclosed body of water on Earth." The Central Asian countries obviously border nations of considerable geopolitical interest these days and are significant in their own right.

Can you match the countries to their flags? (Confession: without scrolling back up, I can't. So remember, this is a reinforcement game, not a test!)

And here is our memory-stretching exercise in recognizing geographic outlines.

The answer to last week's outline, of course, was Mali.

Stressed today? Here is one minute of waves on a beach of the Caspian Sea to help you chill.

There is much to be said about the history of this region and about its current politics, but I am mostly trying to give a sense of geography and need to limit my scope if I am to do this.

Happy mind traveling!
--the BB


FranIAm said...

I so love that you do this!!!

Diane said...

I love this! It is educational!

Paul said...

Fran and Diane, is is my small contribution to countering the abysmal geographic ignorance of most Americans (myself included). In the attempt to be instructional and playful at the same time, I learn a lot and am painfully reminded how little I know and how much I have forgotten.