also spelled Betpak-dala, also called Severnaya Golodnaya Steppe,desert in eastern Kazakhstan, situated west of Lake Balqash. It has an area of about 29,000 square miles (75,000 square km) and an average elevation of 1,000–1,150 feet (300–350 m). The desert is generally flat or gently undulating but is more hilly in the east. It receives a total annual precipitation of only 4–6 inches (100–150 mm), and its average temperatures range from 7° F (-14° C) in January to 79° F (26° C) in July. The Betpaqdala has many shallow, mostly salty lakes. The western portion is clayey, wormwood desert, whereas the eastern part is stony. Almost uninhabited, it is used only for spring and autumn pasture.
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