City in western Uzbekistan, capital of the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, in the delta of the Amu Darya River. Nukus is about 1255 km (about 755 mi) west of Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, and about 230 km (about 140 mi) south of M?ynoq and the former shoreline of the Aral Sea. An increase in upstream irrigation needs reduced the downstream flow of the Amu Darya, contributing to the shrinking of the Aral and the disappearance of its plentiful fish stock.

Nukus is a center for the growing and processing of cotton and rice. Fishing, fish processing, and canning, once dominant economic activities in Nukus, have ceased. The local climate has changed with the disappearance of the sea, and Nukus now experiences an average of ten dust and sand storms a year. The 1989 census indicated that Nukus was the fastest growing city in Uzbekistan as a consequence of the deteriorating environmental conditions in the surrounding countryside.

Nukus is the home of the Karakalpak branch of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences and Nukus State University (founded in 1979). Nukus also has a large museum filled with art and artifacts from artists exiled to Nukus by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin during the early 1930s. Nukus became a city in 1932 and succeeded Turtkul as capital of the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic in 1939. Population (1991 estimate): 179,600.

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