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Nukus is a city in western Uzbekistan, the capital of the Karakalpakistan Autonomous Republic, located in the delta of the Amu Darya River about 1255 km west of Tashkent, and about 230 km south of Muynaq 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 stocks. Nukus is a center for the growing and processing of cotton and rice. 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 also has a large museum with an art collection from the Russian avant-garde, a bold group of artists who ushered in modernism at the beginning of the 20th century. Many of those artists fell victim to the purges of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the early 1930's, but the late director of the Nukus Museum collected their work and brought it to Nukus. Nukus became a city in 1932 and succeeded Turtkul as the capital of Karakalpakistan in 1939.
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