The Karakum Desert, also spelled Kara-Kum and Gara-Gum, is a desert in Central Asia. Its name in Turkic languages means "black sand" => "kum" means sand; "kara" is a contraction of garaňky: "dark" or may pre-date that (be a derivation from a likely broader meaning which the word for black bore: gara) in this language family. This refers to the shale-rich sand generally beneath the sand of much of the desert. It occupies about 70 percent, 350,000 km2, of Turkmenistan.
The population is sparse, with an average of one person per 6.5 km2 (2.5 square miles). Rainfall is also rare, ranging from 70 to 150 mm per year.
Wildlife in this area is not very diverse and includes insects such as ants, termites, ticks, spiders, dung beetles, and darkling beetles. Lizards, turtles, and snakes also live in the Karakum. Bird species include alauda, desert sparrows, and other species, while rodents include jerboas and gophers. The tolai hare, goitered gazelle, corsac fox are examples of mammal species in the Karakum Desert.