Map of the Khanate of Khiva and the Lower Reaches of the Amu Darya River


The permanent military presence of imperial Russia in the Aral Sea region dates to 1847, when the Russians founded Fort Aralsk near the mouth of the Syr Darya (Jaxartes) River on the northern shore of the sea. At the time Russia was locked with Great Britain in the intense rivalry for influence in Central Asia and Afghanistan that became known as the Great Game. This detailed and beautifully rendered Russian map shows the southern shores of the Aral Sea and the other great river of Central Asia, the Amu Darya or Oxus. The map was published in 1873, a watershed year that saw Russian annexation of the Khanate of Khiva (lying along the course of the Amu Darya in the region depicted in the map) as well as of the Emirate of Bokhara (lying to the southeast of the Khanate of Khiva). The map includes such features as rivers, lakes, marshes, and cultivated areas, in addition to arid regions (labeled as Takir, i.e., salt flats characterized by fissured and cracked surfaces, and solonetz). Also included are cities and villages, roads, and mosques. The city of Khiva lies near the bottom of the map at the edge of an area of vast cultivation that includes other historical cities such as Kunya-Urgench and Kath or Kat. The entire region was later to undergo an environmental cataclysm with the drying up of the Aral Sea, caused by irrigation policies pursued during the Soviet era. The map was created by the cartographic unit of the Military Topography Directorate of the Russian General Staff. The scale is in versts, a Russian unit of measurement; one verst is equal to 1.07 kilometers.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

General Staff, Military Topography Directorate, Moscow


Title in Original Language

Карта Хивинскаго ханства и низовьев Аму - Дарьи

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : color ; 62 x 75 centimeters


  • Scale 1:550,000

Last updated: September 30, 2016