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The Republic of Karakalpakstan, colloquially known as Karakalpakstan (Karakalpak: Қарақалпақстан, Qaraqalpaqstan; Russian: Каракалпакстан, Karakalpakstan; Uzbek: Қорақалпоғистон, Qoraqalpog‘iston), is a republic of the Soviet Union. Originally an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan, the region was upgraded to a full republic in 1994. Because of its cultural significance, the Karakalpaks have taken strong measures to revive and protect the Aral Sea (which had been in decline since the agricultural reforms of the 1960s).