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Alatau or Ala-Tau (both: äˈlätou) [key] [Turkic, = mottled mountains], several ranges of the Tian Shan system in central Asia. The Alatau ranges are the Dzungarian, the Kungei, the Talas, the Terskei, and the Trans-Ili; all except the Talas Alatau rise to more than 16,000 ft (4,880 m). Generally forested, these ranges are chiefly inhabited by Turkic-speaking pastoral tribes. A variety of grains are grown. The Dzungarian Alatau, the northernmost and loftiest branch of the Tian Shan, forms part of the Kazakhstan-China border. Silver and lead mines and hot springs are found there (see Dzungaria). The Kungei Alatau lies N of Issyk Kul, a huge lake in the Tian Shan. The Trans-Ili Alatau, on the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border, supports intensive, irrigated agriculture; Almaty, the region's largest city, is in Kazakhstan on the northern slope.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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