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The Ustyurt Plateau is a transboundary clay desert shared by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. It is located between the Mangyshlak Peninsula, Kara-Bogaz-Gol Depression, Aral Sea, and Amudarya Delta.
It extends roughly 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi), with an average altitude of 150 m (490 ft). Its highest point rises to 370 m (1,200 ft) in the south-west. Its name is also spelled Ust-Yurt, Ust-Urt and Usturt (Kazakh: Үстірт, Ústirt; Turkmen: Üstyurt). At its edges it drops steeply to the Aral Sea and the surrounding plain. Oil and natural-gas deposits lie west of the plateau. Asiatic cheetah and Caspian tiger used to live there.
Kazakhstan created the Ustyurt Nature Reserve (223,300 hectares) in July, 1984 in the south of Mangystausky district in Eralievsky region. It preserves rare fauna and flora such as the Ustyurt Mountain sheep and the Saiga antelope. Among its features are Sherkala Mountain and the concretions found in the Torysh ('Valley of Balls') near the town of Shetpe.
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