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Lake. a salt lake in SE Kazakhstan: fed by the Ili River. Area: about 18 000 sq. km (7000 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in Karaganda Oblast, RSFSR, with a harbor on the north shore of Lake Balkhash. Railroad station on a branch line from the Mointy station. Population, 77,000 (1969; the population was 33,000 in 1939).

Balkhash, an important nonferrous metallurgy center, came into being in 1937 in association with a copper-smelting combine which uses ore from the Kounrad, Dzhezkazgan, and Uspenskii mines, as well as Karaganda coal. Balkhash has a fishing industry. There is an evening school of the Karaganda Polytechnic Institute, a chemistry and metallurgy technicum, and a medical school. The botanical garden of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR is in Balkhash.



a lake with no drainage outlet, located in the east of the Kazakh SSR. It lies in the vast Balkhash-Alakol’ basin at an elevation of 340 m above sea level. It covers an area of 17,000–22,000 sq km, extends 605 km in length, and is 9–19 km broad in the east and 74 km broad in the west. The volume of its water mass is 112 cu km. The basin area covers about 501,000 sq km. The lake’s greatest depth is 26 m. In the west, the lake is replenished by the large river Ili, and in the east it receives the minor tributaries Karatal, Aksu, Lepsy, and others.

The northern shores of Lake Balkhash, which are approached by arms of the Kazakh hilly region, are high and rocky, with traces of ancient terraces showing; the southern shores are low-lying, sandy, and covered with thick growths of reeds. The shoreline is rather irregular. The shores are indented with numerous bays and inlets. There are few islands, the largest being Basaral and Tasaral.

The climate in the lake region is arid. The July mean temperature is about 24° C, the January mean about -8° C. Precipitation averages 120 mm per year. Relative air humidity is 55–60 percent. The average annual wind velocity is about 4.5–4.8 m/sec. Northerly winds prevail in the west, and northeasterly winds in the east. The winds cause continually choppy and agitated lake waters. The high summer air temperature, the low humidity, and the strong winds combine to produce a yearly evaporation rate ranging from 950 mm in cool years to 1,200 mm in dry years. Lake Balkhash usually freezes over in late November and the ice breaks up in mid-April. Highest levels are observed during the thaw of the mountain glaciers (June-July). The average annual amplitude of oscillations in the lake level, over the past 20 years, is 3.2 m.

Lake Balkhash is a semifreshwater lake. The chemical properties of the lake water depend on the features of the basin hydrography. The Saryesik Peninsula, extending far into the lake, separates Balkhash into two halves, eastern and western, which are clearly distinct from one another in hy-drological terms; the narrow (3.5 km wide) Uzynaral Gulf joins the two halves. The mineralization and salt content of the lacustrine water in the western and eastern parts contrast conspicuously, because the large tributary Hi, delivering to the lake as much as 73–80 percent of the annual inflow of fresh water (about 23.0 cu km), empties into the western half. The water in the western half of the lake is almost fresh (0.74 g/l, more turbid (transparency to 1 m), and yellowish-gray; the eastern half is briny (5.21 g/l), transparent (5.5 m), and bluish to emerald-blue. The water temperature on the surface ranges from 0° C in December to 28° C in July, and varies little in the depths (temperature difference remaining within 3.3° C). Currents are wind driven and constantly circular in the western half of the lake. The Balkhash fauna is fairly rich: benthos are represented by mollusks, larvae of aquatic insects, and crustaceans; plankton also are abundant, particularly in the western part. The lake is host to 20 species of fish, six species indigenous to the lake (Hi and Balkhash marinka, Balkhash perch, spotted and monochrome loach, and minnow), the remainder acclimatized by human initiative

(carp, sturgeon, oriental bream, Aral barbel, Siberian dace, carp, tench, pike perch, and others). The principal species of commercial interest are carp, pike perch, Balkhash perch, marinka, and bream.

The lake is navigable and is used regularly. The principal harbors are Burylbaital and Burlitobe. The town of Balkhash is the site of a mining and metallurgical combine which utilizes the lake water.


Domrachev, P. F. Balkhash ¡ Pribalkhash’e. Alma-Ata-Moscow, 1935.
Sapozhnikov, D. G. Sovremennye osadki i geologiia ozera Balkhash.[Moscow, 1951.]
Tarasov, M. N. Gidrokhimiia ozera Balkhash. Moscow, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Dnepr long-distance radar, which is part of the Balkhash facility, provides round-the clock observation of outer space and registers ballistic missile launches in the entire southeastern collective security region.
The SWF Samruk-Kazyna in 2009 signed a deal with Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and construction company Samsung C&T to build and operate the Balkhash coal-fired power plant.
Maximum concentrations, more than 36 mg/l, are above Zhezkazgan and above Balkhash, more than 29 mg/l.
Currently the plan includes two large light-water reactors to be built by Russia's Atomstroyexport near Lake Balkhash in the south and near Aktau in the west near the Caspian Sea.
The 1H12 output of the finished metal dropped by 11% as maintenance halted its Balkhash smelter and the grades of metal it delivered declined.
Samsung Engineering, the largest engineering company in Korea, has been awarded a $2.1bn contract in Kazakhstan from Balkhash Thermal Power Plant (BTPP).
On November 24, the train passed close to Lake Balkhash. The train transited the Soviet Republics of Mongolia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and entered Uzbekistan and its capital, Tashkent.
In Russia's early-warning system, two ground-based radars can monitor China's missile activities; one is located in Mishelevka near Irkutsk and the other in Balkhash in Kazakhstan (Podvig 2002).
Cambrian-early Ordovician brachiopods from Malyi Karatau, the western Balkhash Region, and northern Tien Shan, Central Asia.
More than half of the flow of Lake Balkhash depends on China.
Yermukanov refers to the polluting of Lake Balkhash by the industrialisation of northwestern China, and to the increased food production in Xingjiang Uighur.