The Kopet Mountains (also referred to as the Kopet-Dag or redundantly as the Kopet-Dag Mountains - "Kopet-Dag" translates roughly as "Lots of Mountains" in Turkish) are located on the northeast-southwest border between Iran and Turkmenistan. Like the surrounding lands, the mountains are mostly arid and non-arable land. However, this aridity gives rise to the large petroleum industry that defines a large part of modern Middle Eastern countries and culture. The range does have the Artek River, which flows into the Caspian Sea on the mountains' western border.

Geologically, the Kopet range is fairly young, with its highest point, Kuh-e Quchan, only reaching 10166 feet. This also leads to great instability, with numerous earthquakes originating from this range. On October 6, 1948, the capital city of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan was almost completely destroyed by one quake emanating from this faultline. 110,000 people perished in the disaster, but the city persevered, and still exists within a viewable distance of the mountains.

The mountains are also filled with archaeological and paleontological sites, mostly from early nomads in the Middle East and plants and animals dating from the mid to late Cretaceous period. Recently, however, damage to the fragile ecosystems that flourish in the Kopet Mountains has began whittling away at the ecology of southern Turkmenistan with a dangerous fury. Soil is vanishing as the entire area is appearing to dry up. The Aral Sea has taken particular hits to its livelihood. Fortunately, concerned residents have formed Noev Kovcheg ("Noah's Ark") to help preserve the flora and food that thrives in the region.

Apparently, you can hike and tour through the Kopets with the aide of a local (preferably on the Turkmenistan side.) Many beautiful flowers and plants grow in the area, and the mountains themselves provide spectacular views of the unique geography of the area. (Maybe someday I'll actually get to visit the Kopet range!)


  • (lovely pictures of the range)

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