The Caspian Sea is the largest saltwater lake in the world, located on the border of Europe and Asia. The Caspian Sea is also the lake that borders the most neighboring countries in the world, bordering a total of 5 countries.
Geographically, the Caspian Sea is a 'sea trace lake,' It became an inland lake after it was separated from the Black Sea more than 11,000 years ago. The Caspian Sea has an ecosystem similar to the ocean, and the maritime industry is well developed.
Although the Caspian Sea is called the sea, it is a huge inland saltwater lake. It is called the sea because its area is large enough, and its nature is biased towards seawater, such as color, beach, etc. You will learn more interesting facts about the Caspian Sea in the following post.
Caspian Sea Introduction
The Alborz and Caucasus Mountains surround the Caspian Sea in the south and southwest, with the steppes of Central Asia on the other sides. Russia borders it to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south, Turkmenistan to the southeast, and Kazakhstan to the northeast.
The Caspian Sea is rich with oil and natural gas, making the ownership of the sea's resources a contentious issue among its surrounding countries. These are complicated socio-cultural and political aspects today. However, the following sections will focus on the geographic and environmental features of the Caspian Sea.
Caspian Sea Size
The Caspian Sea is the Earth's largest inland water body when measured by surface area. The Caspian Sea is a long and narrow "S" shape in the north-south direction and has bays such as Mangeshlak, Kazakh, Turkmenistan, Krasnovodsk, and more than 130 rivers such as Volga, Ural, Kura, Terek, etc. flow into it.
- It is about 1,200 kilometers long and 320 kilometers wide on average.
- It covers an area of 371,000 square kilometers, equivalent to 14% of the world's total lake area (2.7 million square kilometers).
- The shoreline of the Caspian Sea is about 7,000 kilometers long.
- The total volume of the lake is 76,000 cubic kilometers.
More than 130 rivers are entering the Caspian Sea, with an annual runoff of more than 300 cubic kilometers. Among them, the runoff of the Volga River into the sea is 256 cubic kilometers, accounting for 80% of the total runoff of the Caspian Sea. The runoff into the sea has large seasonal and interannual changes, which directly affect salinity and water level changes.
The significant reduction in the water flow of the Volga River (80% of the water volume), which is the main source of water in the Caspian Sea, and the rise in average temperature in the Caspian Sea region are the main reasons for the decline in the level of the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea level will continue to drop in the coming years as climate changes and the sea continues to evaporate.
- Biological resources
As a part of the ancient Mediterranean Sea, a large number of marine creatures that lived here have survived after the Caspian Sea was separated from the ocean, such as sturgeon, salmon, silver sweat fish, etc., and even seals and other sea beasts live here. There are about 850 animal species and more than 500 plant species, many of which are endemic to such a vast body of water.
- Oil and gas resources
Oil and gas are the most important resources in this region. Development began in the 1920s and has grown considerably since the end of World War II. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, large-scale oil and gas fields have been discovered in the Caspian Sea. According to the estimation of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, this region will likely become one of the world's major energy suppliers in the 21st century after the Gulf region. These resources have also become the reason for the continuous outbreak of conflicts and disputes in surrounding countries.
The shipping industry in the Caspian Sea is developed. Through the Volga River, Volga-Don River, and other canals, the five seas: the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov, were successfully navigable. However, shipping is limited due to the shallow water in the north. Moreover, the exploitation rights of oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea are naturally linked to demarcation. The demarcation of the Caspian Sea is a complex issue involving the interests of different countries, and it isn't easy to solve it temporarily.