Muynak is a small village in the northwest of Uzbekistan, situated 220 km from Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan. Some 30 years ago it was a small town on the southern shore of the Aral Sea with a population of 20 thousand people. The famous fish factory in Muynak was known to export its produce all over the territory of the former Soviet Union, while hats from the Muynak muskrat were highly esteemed by the Soviet elite. The port of Muynak was always teeming with fishing boats and transports.
However, everything changed when the Aral Sea had begun to shrink. The ill-conceived economic policy resulted in a disastrous shrinkage of the lake: the water went away by 200 km, leaving the town alone in the desert, with a closed factory and a cemetery of ships instead of the once lively port. Now the people continue to abandon Muynak, and its population has decreased to several thousand people.
Today tourists arrive in Muynak in great numbers to see the cemetery of ships – corroded iron bulks amid the Aralkum desert, a new desert that has formed on the bottom of the former Aral Sea. Toruists can also visit a small museum, where they can see pictures and photographs and have the idea of what the town once was. The museum also exhibits items of people’s applied arts and articles of the traditional life of the peoples inhabiting the territory near the former Aral Sea. Muynak is a native town for Berdakh (Berdimurat Kargabayev), an outstanding 19th-century poet who gave birth to the Karakalpak national literature.