Infobox City
official_name = Aral
native_name = Арал


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pushpin_label_position =bottom
pushpin_mapsize = 280
pushpin_map_caption =Location in Kazakhstan
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name =‎ flag|Kazakhstan
subdivision_name1 = Kyzylorda
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population_total = 39,000
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Aral, also known as Aralsk or Aral'sk, (Kazakh: Арал, Russian: Аральск) coord|46|47|N|61|40|E| is a small city in south-western Kazakhstan, located in the "oblast" (region) of Kyzylorda. It serves as the administrative center of Aral District. Population roughly 39,000. Aral was formerly a fishing port and harbour city on the banks of the Aral Sea, and was a major supplier of fish to the neighboring region.

Since the retreat of the Aral Sea since 1960, due to diversion of the rivers flowing into it for irrigation, mainly of cotton, during the Soviet era, Aral is now completely landlocked about 12 km from the sea, though this is less than the 100km distance observed before the completion of a dam in 2005. With the dam in place and the water level in the sea again rising, it is hoped that by 2009 the sea will have come within 6km of Aral and a canal could be built to the sea. Aral has greatly diminished in population and socioeconomic significance. It has been more than 25 years since the Aral Sea could be seen from the town.

There are also serious health problems for the local population caused by airborne toxic chemicalsFact|date=February 2008 exposed to the wind by the retreating waters and, possibly, from chemical and biological agents unsafely stored on islands in the Aral Sea. There is a high level of unemployment.

Like the town of Moynaq to the south of the Aral Sea, it now has discarded rusting fishing boats sitting on what used to be the bed of the Aral Sea.

External links

* The official website about the Aralsk region in Kazakh, Russian, English and Danish []
* News story on the plight of Aralsk and the Aral Sea. []

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