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Central part of Oleshky Sands in spring

Oleshky Sands (Ukrainian: Олешківські піски) is the largest expanse of sand in Ukraine[1]. It is situated inland from the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea and consists of sand dunes or kuchuhury (locally), which reach a height of five meters. Some sparse vegetation can be located across the sands.



Oleshky Sands are located in Tsiurupynsk Raion, Kherson Oblast, 30 km (~20 mi) east of Kherson. The previous name of Tsiurupynsk was Oleshky. The closest populated settlement is seven kilometers away (~4.5 mi). In Soviet times the sands were used as an Air Force bombing range for pilots of the Warsaw Pact alliance. To this day there is a possibility of finding some unexploded ordnance.


Due to its temperature and the amount of precipitation these sands sometimes are qualified as a semi-desert. Oleshky Sands are 15 km in diameter (~10 mi) and they are surrounded by a very dense forest planted to prevent dunes moving. Due to its density, the forest often catches fire. Although a relatively small sandy steppe, the Oleshky Sands have sandstorms[citation needed]. In the Oleshky sands at the depth of 300–400 m (~1000 ft) there is an underground lake, which forms an essential part of the local environment.


  1. ^ Sometimes Oleshky Sands are declared the largest desert (or sands) in Europe, but the largest sandy desert in Europe is Ryn Desert, it is 20 times larger

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Coordinates: 46°35′00″N 33°03′00″E / 46.5833333°N 33.05°E / 46.5833333; 33.05



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