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Rivers and lakes of Tajikistan

Tajikistan's priceless natural gift is full-flowing rivers. Most of them belong to the Aral sea basin, only some Pamir rivers carry their waters to lake Karakul or to the Tarim basin (China). Rivers differ from each other in their power sources, mode, and economic significance. The most important among them-Panj, Vakhsh, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Zeravshan, Kafirnigant-are born high in the mountains, they feed on the waters of glaciers. One of the largest rivers, the Panj, flows at a distance of 921 km along the southern border of the Republic. Tajikistan's main waterway, the Vakhsh, stretches for almost 525 km. At the confluence of the Panj and Vakhsh, the Amu Darya, the Republic's largest river, is formed. But Tajikistan owns a small section of its current – only 85 km. Another major river in Central Asia, the Syr Darya, crosses Northern Tajikistan at a length of 105 km. In the center of the Republic flows the rapid and stormy Zeravshan. In the South, it carries its waters to the Amu Darya, Kafirnigan. In the mountains, rivers cut through narrow valleys, often flowing in canyons with steep walls. Canyons are known in some parts of the valleys along the Panj, muks, Bartang, Yazgulem, Shahdara, in the middle reaches of the Vakhsh, on Zeravshan, Yagnob, Obihingou, and Surkhob.


Mountain sections of rivers are also characterized by a steep drop in the riverbed, reaching several meters per kilometer, and in some places it is tens or even hundreds of meters per kilometer. Therefore, rivers are characterized by a rapid flow. Sometimes they descend in noisy boiling streams. But as soon as the rivers enter the foothill plains, their character changes. They are divided into channels and arms, become wider, their flow becomes more calm. These are the Syr Darya, Vakhsh, Kafirnigan, and Panj rivers. They are very rich in water, but their flow is extremely uneven in the seasons. Floods in Tajikistan are rapid and rapid. Rivers of glacial nutrition usually have two of them: spring, when snow melts and rains fall, and summer, caused by melting glacial waters and waters of eternal snow. The rivers, fed by seasonal snow and rain (rivers of the foothills) have only one high water – in spring. In the cold season, the water content of all rivers is reduced several times, and they are very shallow. The regime of rivers that carry the most water in spring and summer favours artificial irrigation. But significant fluctuations in water availability during the year make it difficult to use their energy. Therefore, it is necessary to build reservoirs to regulate the flow. The reserves of white energy in Tajik rivers are very large. Vakhsh and Panj have tremendous energy. Small rivers that flow from lakes are also of interest to hydroelectric power companies. Among them are the Iskander Darya, Bartang and Gunt.

In the past, their valleys were blocked by powerful mountain collapses. Above these natural dams, significant lakes have developed. At relatively low cost, powerful hydroelectric power stations can be built on rivers. There are many mountain lakes in the Republic. They are located mainly in the Pamirs and in the mountains of Central Tajikistan. There are few of them on the plains, and they are found only in floodplains. The origin of the lake basins are divided into tectonic, glacial, landslide, karst and floodplains. In the mountains, most of the lake basins were formed as a result of tectonic processes, glacier activity, or landslides. The largest glacier-tectonic lake Karakul, located in the Eastern Pamir at an altitude of about 4000 m, is salty and almost lifeless. Its area without Islands is 380 sq. km, and the maximum depth is about 240 m. Lakes Sarezskoe and Yashilkul, formed as a result of earthquakes and mountain collapses, are surrounded by steep " wild banks and rich in fish. Sarez lake is very deep. Its depth exceeds 500 m. In the mountains of the Zeravshan range lies the tectonic glacier-filled lake Iskanderkul, which attracts many tourists with its scenic beauty. On the foothill plains, lakes appeared in floodplains of rivers from Staritsa, as well as in karst basins as a result of subsidence in the loess or in other easily eroded rocks. Karst lakes are usually small but deep. Artificial reservoirs have been created in the Republic. Farhad, Kayrakkum and Golovnoye reservoirs have been constructed on the Syr Darya and Vakhsh. In the upper reaches of the Vakhsh, Nurek, Sangtudinsky, Rogun and other reservoirs appeared. Artificial "seas" ensure normal operation of turbines, promote irrigation and water supply, and develop navigation. Thanks to the abundance of mountain rivers and lakes, Tajikistan attracts tourists who like extreme sports. There are holidays for every taste: mountaineering, campfire recreation, horse crossings and much more-all this makes this area especially attractive.

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