Aral, also known as Aralsk is a small city in south-western Kazakhstan. Aral was formerly a fishing port and harbour city on the banks of the Aral Sea, and was a major supplier of fish to the neighboring region. Since the retreat of the Aral Sea since 1960, due to diversion of the rivers flowing into it for irrigation, mainly of cotton, during the Soviet era, Aral is now completely landlocked about 12 km from the northern remnant of the Aral Sea, though this is less than the 100 km distance observed before the completion of a dam in 2005. Aral has greatly diminished in population and socioeconomic significance, resulting in high levels of unemployment. For the last 25 years it has not been possible to see the sea from the town.