Stalin’s modus operandi in Central Asia sought the division of its people, thus resulting in the split of the Khorezm (an ancient kingdom centred on the Amu-Darya delta) oasis – the northern section around Khiva going to Uzbekistan and the southern portion going to Turkmenistan. As part of historic Khorezm, the Turkmen portion still contains a sizeable Uzbek minority and retains a culture apart from the rest of the country.
Attractions in this part of the country are scarce, but those with an interest in history must visit Konye-Urgench, which is rich in Islamic relics dating back to the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
Sadly the region has not escaped the Aral Sea disaster and suffers from air, soil and water pollution. It’s also the poorest part of the country, with little commerce apart from the smuggling of subsidised petrol to Uzbekistan.