Take a tour of some of the lowest places on Earth
Learn about the geography and history behind some of the world's most challenging environments.
Turpan Depression, China: 502 feet below sea level
This 19,000-square mile-trough located in China's Xinjiang region is completely below sea level. It contains a uranium ore deposit located near its southwestern tip.
Reeds, flowering plants, small trees and other shrubs and weeds grow by the trough's Aydingkol Lake. Since the area gets minimal water, local peoples developed advanced irrigation systems consisting of wells, underground channels, ground canals and small reservoirs that draw water from melting snow on nearby mountains and bring it into the trough.
These systems have been in place since at least the Han Dynasty (206-220 A.D.) and are considered one of the great ancient projects in China, along with the Great Wall and the Grand Canal.