Most of the territory of the landlocked Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan consists of the Kyzyl Kum, the Red Desert. Misuse of the region’s scarce water resources with irrigation schemes led to the ecological disaster of the Aral Sea, which has halved in size in a few decades, leaving ships high and dry. Use of pesticides and fertilisers has also left a legacy of pollution. Unfortunately little has changed in recent years, and cotton irrigation continues, as does the use of child labour. Wheat, barley and melons are also cultivated. The capital, Tashkent, has central Asia’s only metro system and the 16th Century Mausoleum of Sheikh Zaynudin. Uzbekistan’s situation on the ancient Silk Road contributes to its rich cultural and archaeological heritage. Samarkand, the capital of Timur, founder of the Mughal Empire which later ruled India, contains the Gur-e Amir, his mausoleum. Also in Samarkand is the blue domed Bibi-Khanym Mosque, and the grand central square, the Registan, which is surrounded by religious buildings, their tall arched portals decorated with mosaics. Visitors also enjoy trekking, skiing and rock climbing in the mountains. Plov, made with meat, rice and vegetables, is the national dish.