The Caspian Sea is a landlocked sea in Asia, the world's largest inland body of water, with a surface area of 371,000 km² (143000 sq. mi.). It is bordered by Russia (Dagestan, Kalmykia, Astrakhan Oblast), Republic of Azerbaijan, Iran (Guilan, Mazandaran and Golestan provinces), Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, with the central Asian steppes to the north and east. In Antiquity it was called the Hyrcanian Ocean. Other old names for the Caspian Sea include the Mazandaran Sea, Khazar Sea and the Khvalissian Sea.
The Caspian has characteristics common to both seas and lakes. It is often listed as the world's largest lake, though it is not a freshwater lake.
The Caspian holds great numbers of sturgeon, which yield eggs that are processed into caviar. However, overfishing has threatened the sturgeon population to the point that environmentalists advocate banning sturgeon fishing completely until the population recovers.
Recently discovered huge oil fields also lie underneath the Caspian Sea, though further exploration is needed to define the full extent of the oil potential in this part of the world.
The main problem is the status of the Caspian Sea and the establishment of the water boundaries between the five riparian countries.
The level of the Caspian has fallen and risen many times over the centuries. Some Russian historians claim that a medieval rising of the Caspian caused the coastal towns of Khazaria, such as Atil, to flood. In 2004, the water level is -28 metres, or 28 metres below sea level.
The Volga River and the Ural River discharge into the Caspian Sea, but it is endorheic, i.e. there is no natural outflow (other than by evaporation).
The sea is connected to the Sea of Azov by the Manych Canal.
Cities near the Caspian Sea
Major cities by the Caspian Sea:
Baku, Azerbaijan Republic
Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan (formerly Krasnovodsk)
Babol, province of Mazandaran, Iran
Aktau, Kazakhstan (formerly Shevchenko)
Historical cities by the Sea:
Caspian Environment Programme http://www.caspianenvironment.org/
- Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea http://www.caspianenvironment.org/reports/Framework_Convention.zip (2003)
- Target: Caspian Sea Oil http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2004/07/long_term_gg_ta.htm
l John Robb, 2004
Last updated: 02-07-2005 08:43:08
Last updated: 04-25-2005 03:06:01