Lake Alakol
Alakol Lake is a lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 located in the Almaty
Almaty Province
Almaty is a province of Kazakhstan. Its capital is Taldykorgan, which has a population of 118,400. The province itself has 1,603,700 people.-Geography:...

 and Shyghyz provinces, east central Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. Its elevation is 347 m above sea level

The lake is the northwest extension of the region known as the Dzhungarian Gate (Alataw Pass
Alataw Pass
The term Alataw Pass can be* another name for the Dzungarian Gate, an historically and geographically notable pass through the Dzungarian Alatau mountains between Kazakhstan and China, or...

), a narrow valley connects the southern uplands of Kazakhstan with arid
A region is said to be arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or even preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life...

 northwest China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The Dzhungarian Gate is a fault-bounded valley (see vertical line on the image along the southwest side of the lake) where the elevation of the valley floor is between 350–450 m above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

 and the peaks of the Dzhungarsky Alatau range (lower left) reach 4,463 m above sea level. Two, well-defined alluvial fan
Alluvial fan
An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain. A convergence of neighboring alluvial fans into a single apron of deposits against a slope is called a bajada, or compound alluvial...

s are visible where mountain streams cut through the faulted landscape (southwest side of lake).

Alakol Lake, a salt lake, has a drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of 65,200 km² and receives water periodically from the southerly draining Urdzhar River at the north end of the lake. The surface area of the lake is 2,650 km², and is 54 m deep at its maximum depth, with a volume of 58.6 km³. A swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

y, lowland connects the northwest end of Alakol Lake with the lighter-colored Sasykkol Lake (bottom center).

The Alakol State Sanctuary has been created to protect the area for the lake is an important breeding and nesting ground for various wetland birds, notably the very rare Relict Gull
Relict Gull
The Relict Gull, Ichthyaetus relictus, is a medium-sized gull. It was believed to be an eastern race of the Mediterranean Gull until 1971 and was traditionally placed in the genus Larus.-Description:...

. Piski Island has flocks of flamingo
Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus , the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae...

, and 40 species of other birds.

The largest island in Alakol Lake is Ul'kun-Aral-Tyube. It is located in the center of the lake.

Agricultural activity in this arid region is limited to areas where adequate moisture
Humidity is the amount of moisture the air can hold before it rains. Moisture refers to the presence of a liquid, especially water, often in trace amounts...

 is available, mainly along ephemeral streambeds and in the deltas and alluvial fans.

The Bronze Age Alakul culture is situated in the general region of the lake. In the middle of the 1st century BCE the Lake Alakol marked an eastern end of the Kangar state, shown on Chinese maps of the Western territory.
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