Uvs Nuur Basin is a fragile mountain endorheic basin or hollow located on the territorial border of Mongolia and the Republic of Tuva in the Russian Federation, named after Uvs Lake, a large, shallow and very saline lake in the basin's center. Several smaller lakes are scattered throughout. It is part of a combination of raised lands and hollows located throughout the Tannu-Ola and Altai mountainous regions. Here, the world's most northern desert meets the Northern Hemisphere's most southern tundra zone. The Ubsunur Hollow was inscribed on the World Heritage Site in 2003.
The total area of Uvs Lake drainage basin is 70,000 km2. The greater part of it lies in Mongolia (Khövsgöl, Zavkhan and Uvs Provinces), and the northern part in Russia (Tuva).
Uvs Nuur is a highly saline lake. It is the largest lake in Mongolia by surface area, covering 3,350 km² at 759 metres above sea level. The northeastern tip of the lake is situated in the Tuva Republic of the Russian Federation. The largest settlement near the lake is Ulaangom. This shallow and very saline body of water is a remainder of a huge saline sea which covered a much larger area several thousand years ago. All of the lake and many parts of its surroundings have been declared protected sites. The UNESCO is using the designation "Uvs Lake site" as an umbrella term to summarize twelve separate clusters of protected sites, each a representative of a major eastern Eurasian biome. Uvs Lake has a length of 84 kilometres and a width of 79 kilometres, with an average depth of 6 metres. Its basin is separated from the rest of the Great Lakes Depression by the Khan Khökhii ridge. However, it is not a rift lake as some mistakenly think. The main feeding rivers are the Baruunturuun, Nariin gol, and Tes from Khangai Mountains in the east, and the Kharkhiraa River and Sangil gol from the Altai Mountains in the west.
The terrain encompasses a wide variation of climates, including glaciers, alpine tundra, sub-alpine meadows, and vast mountain taiga areas. There are also forested steppes, treeless steppes, semi-arid deserts, and ever-shifting sand dunes. It is a scenic and highly diversified natural habitat.
Due to its location on the cusp of the Siberian and Central Asian-Mongolian terrains, the flora and fauna of the hollow exhibit a high biodiversity for mid-latitudes. Animal species that inhabit both mountains and tundra, such as the Siberian roe deer, and Altai snowcock, flourish here. The endangered snow leopard is also present, as well as taiga dwellers such as the Caspian red deer, lynx and wolverine. Steppe dwellers include the Mongolian lark, demoiselle crane and long-tailed Siberian squirrel. Desert inhabitants include the bustard and midday gerbil. The bird species alone number some 359. Since the hollow is a protected area, many ancient species extinct in other regions have found refuge here.
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