Nearly twice as large as Switzerland, the Aral Sea was still among the four largest ones on the planet in 1960. Unfortunately, overreliance on its tributaries Amu Darya and Sry Daria for agriculture has dried it up. Actually, it’s exactly what plans made by the former USSR had predicted, since the resulting marshes were to be used for rice culture. Now only 17,000 km², the Aral Sea is but a big pond. The boats that had previously played an important role in the region’s economic prosperity now lie still in the sand like beached whales. The desert of salt that has replaced it is a hostile, unusable land. And yet not everybody has given up – fishermen, farmers, biologists, and even a few pirates still believe the sea can rise again. They all fight for a better tomorrow.
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