The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia: east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central Asia, south of the fertile plains of Southern Russia in Eastern Europe, and north of the mountainous Iranian Plateau. It covers a surface area of 371,000 km2 (143,000 sq mi) (excluding the highly saline lagoon of Garabogazköl to its east), an area approximately equal to that of Japan, with a volume of 78,200 km3 (19,000 cu mi). It has a salinity of approximately 1.2% (12 g/L), about a third of the salinity of average seawater. It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the southwest, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southeast.
The sea stretches 1,200 km (750 mi) from north to south, with an average width of 320 km (200 mi). Its gross coverage is 386,400 km2 (149,200 sq mi) and the surface is about 27 m (89 ft) below sea level. Its main freshwater inflow, Europe's longest river, the Volga, enters at the shallow north end. Two deep basins form its central and southern zones. These lead to horizontal differences in temperature, salinity, and ecology. The seabed in the south reaches 1,023 m (3,356 ft) below sea level, which is the second-lowest natural non-oceanic depression on Earth after Lake Baikal (−1,180 m or −3,870 ft).
Written accounts from the ancient inhabitants of its coast perceived the Caspian Sea as an ocean, probably because of its salinity and large size. With a surface area of 371,000 square kilometres (143,000 sq mi), the Caspian Sea is nearly five times as big as Lake Superior (82,000 square kilometres (32,000 sq mi)). The Caspian Sea is home to a wide range of species and is famous for its caviar and oil industries. Pollution from the oil industry and dams on rivers that drain into it have harmed its ecology. It is predicted that during the 21st century, the depth of the sea will decrease by 9–18 m (30–60 ft) due to global warming and the process of desertification, causing an ecocide.

View More On
Top Bottom