Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. It is surrounded by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the south-west.
Uzbekistan has a rich and diverse natural environment. However, decades of Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a catastrophic scenario with the agricultural industry being the main contributor to the pollution and devastation of both air and water in the country.
The Aral Sea was once the fourth-largest inland sea on Earth, humidifying the surrounding air and irrigating the arid land. Since the 1960s, when the overuse of the Aral Sea water began, it has shrunk to about 10% of its former area and divided into parts, with only the southern part of the narrow western lobe of the South Aral Sea remaining permanently in Uzbekistan. Much of the water was and continues to be used for the irrigation of cotton fields, a crop requiring a large amount of water to grow.
Due to the Aral Sea loss, high salinity and contamination of the soil with heavy elements are especially widespread in Karakalpakstan, the region of Uzbekistan adjacent to the Aral Sea. The bulk of the nation's water resources is used for farming, which accounts for nearly 84% of the water use and contributes to high soil salinity. Heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers for cotton growing further aggravates soil contamination.
According to the UNDP, climate risk management in Uzbekistan should consider its ecological safety.
Numerous oil and gas deposits have been discovered in the south of the country.
Uzbekistan has also been home to seismic activity, as evidenced by the 1902 Andijan earthquake, 2011 Fergana Valley earthquake, and 1966 Tashkent earthquake.
A dam collapse at Sardoba reservoir in May 2020 flooded much farmland and many villages. The devastation extended into areas inside neighbouring Kazakhstan.