The always interesting Strange Maps blog has this fascinating article on the tiny autonomous post-Soviet republic of Karakalpakstan (literally homeland of the men in black hats).
It seems the place is one of those ficticious national homelands that the Soviets under Stalin liked to carve out for each national minority, the better to allow their local affiliates to exercise control over their inhabitants.
I’m convinced this must have been the inspiration behind a couple of Ken Macleod novels.
There’s more on this tiny unheard of nation here and as someone who is fascinated by small nations and territories I would love to visit – who could fail to be enticed by this description of the capital?
“Nukus is a grim, spiritless city of bitter pleasures whose gridded avenues of socialism support a centreless town, only to peter out around fading fringes into an endless wasteland of cotton fields punctuated by the random, surreal exotica of wild camels loitering in neglected apartment blocks. It is the capital of Karakalpakstan, an ill-defined autonomous republic inside Uzbekistan and thus the regional centre and transport hub of the republic.”