Karakalpakstan (Karakalpak: Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikas or ; Uzbek: Qoraqalpogiston Respublikasi or ) is an autonomous republic of Uzbekistan. It occupies the whole western end of Uzbekistan. The capital is Nukus (Karakalpak: No'kis or ). The Republic of Karakalpakstan has an area of 160,000 square kilometres (62,000 sq mi). Its territory covers the classical land of Khwarezm, though in classical Persian literature the area was known as "Kt ".
The population of Karakalpakstan is estimated at 1,200,000, of whom 500,000 are of the Karakalpak ethnic group, 400,000 are Uzbek and 300,000 are Kazakh. The Karakalpak were formerly nomadic herders and fishers, and were first mentioned in the 16th century. Their name means "Black Hat", but Karakalpak culture was so lost through Sovietization that the original meaning of the black hat is now unknown. The Karakalpak language is considered closer to Kazakh than to Uzbek. Indeed there are accusations that the ethnic group was an invention of the Soviet government to divide the Kazakh population. The language was written in a modified Cyrillic in Soviet times and in the Latin alphabet since 1996.