Issyk-Kul lake is situated in the northern Tien Shan mountains in north-western Kyrgyzstan. It has a length of 182km and is 60km at its widest point, covering an area of 6,332 sq km. This makes it the second largest mountain lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. It occupies the central area of a valley and lies sandwiched between the Terskei and Ala-Too mountain ranges. The name literally means ‘hot lake’ and with an average temperature of around 15°C the lake never freezes, even in the depths of Krygyz winter. It is fed by springs and snow melt-off and it has no outlet. Its southern shore is dominated by the ruggedly beautiful Tien Shan mountain range. During the Soviet era, the lake became a popular holiday resort, with numerous boarding houses and holiday homes along its northern shore. During this period, the lake also served as a secret testing ground for torpedoes.
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