This Atlas brings to its readers a sense of the beauty and wealth in Central Asia, the issues its people face in using and conserving natural resources, and the efforts toward sustainable development. Consisting of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Central Asia is a vast land mass separating the countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus from East and South Asia. Its land is mainly sandy deserts, capped in the north by green plains of the Central Asian Steppe and cradled in the south and east by soaring snow clad mountain ranges. Rich with oil and gas and a variety of plants and animals, some parts of the region are "crossroads" for Asian and Mediterranean species, while others are centers of endemic species. The countries share a family of languages and are all newly independent nations that must use their na tural resources wisely for a sustainable future.