There are plenty of big, beautiful bodies of water out there, but few are quite the size of the Caspian Sea! This commanding body of water is salty, sizable, and hugely important for a wealth of international industries. It’s the border for many different countries and territories out east. However, despite its incredible appearance and its importance in the modern age, this habitat has come under a lot of pressure in recent times thanks to increasing pollution.
We’ll break down more than a few interesting facts about the Caspian Sea – stats, historic moments and more – and why the area is under such scrutiny from conservationists. The Caspian is said to have played host to people for tens of thousands of years. Therefore, the area certainly commands respect! This sea is essential not only for travel and tourism, but also for oil drilling. Let’s find out more!
The Caspian Sea is situated between bordering countries of Europe and Asia. These include Russia at the north west, Kazakhstan at the north east, Iran at the south, Azerbaijan at the west and Turkmenistan at the south east.
It has a surface area of 371,000 square kilometers (143,244 square miles).
In an area known as ‘The Caspian Depression’, the area and northern sector of the sea, there is said to be the lowest point on Earth currently recorded.
The Caspian Sea has an average depth of 211 meters (692 feet).
This sea is 1030 kilometers long (640 miles).
At its widest point, the sea reaches 435 kilometers wide (270 miles).
The coastline length of the Caspian Sea is 6,820 kilometers (4,237 miles).
In winter, the northern half of the sea has been known to freeze.
The Caspian Sea is in one of the driest areas on the planet.
The shallowest part of this sea is in the northern section, with an average depth of only 20 feet (4 or 5 meters).
The southern part of this sea contains the most water reaching depths of over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).
The middle section has depths extending to 190 meters (620 feet) with hills to the east and west.
No rivers from the east flow into the Caspian Sea, but over 120 flow into it from other directions.
This sea has no natural outlets. The official term for this is ’endorheic’.
80% of the inflowing water is via the Volga river in the north.
There are approximately 50 uninhabited islands in the Caspian Sea.
As there is no natural evacuation of water, dams help control the levels. Accordingly, rocky island areas are more or less visible from time to time.
Due to oil spills, between 3 and 5% of water in the Caspian did not evaporate at one time, despite the hot climate.
Some scientists have predicted that climate change and the increasingly high temperatures could result in the Caspian Sea eventually partially drying up.
The largest island in this sea is called Ogurja Ada and is to be found in the southern area of the sea.
The largest lagoon in the world is situated next to the Caspian Sea. It is called the Kara Bogaz Gol Lagoon and is located on the eastern coast of the sea.
Due to the salinity (salt content) of its water and its size, the Caspian is most frequently known as a ‘sea’ but can also be theoretically considered a ‘lake’.
As a lake, the Caspian would be the largest of its kind on the planet.
The Caspian Sea is of great importance politically due to its proximity to oil reserves and access routes.
It is estimated that the Caspian sea is over 30 million years old.
Heavy periods of rainfall and high temperatures have resulted in dramatic changes in the sea level over the centuries.
Between the mid-19th and late 20th centuries, the water level varied by 12 feet.
Caspian Sea at Iran
Since 1977, the water level has risen by over 7 feet!
Over 2,000 species of animals live in and around the Caspian Sea.
History suggests at one time porpoises and dolphins may have once lived in these waters, but nowadays, the only aquatic mammals living there are Caspian seals.
Most of the world’s caviar comes from the Caspian Sea.
Over fishing and the use of pesticides has resulted in the famous Beluga whale being added to the world’s list of endangered species. Therefore, the famous Beluga caviar is at risk of being lost.
Serious concerns have been raised about the ‘drilling’ taking place in the area. Disturbance to the natural environment through man-made pollutants and industrial activity has resulted in massive increases in CO2 emissions.
Air and water quality have also suffered, with pollution affecting the area in many different forms.
The impact of man-made environmental damage has resulted in serious health issues for people living in the area, as well as other species.
Data suggests notable increases in intestinal illnesses, tuberculosis and cancer are all higher in the Caspian area than in other parts of the countries surrounding it.
The five countries surrounding the Caspian Sea take varying degrees of responsibility for, and action to improve the quality of the natural habitat.
People have inhabited the region of the Caspian for approximately 75,000 years.
The Caspi is the first known tribe on record to have inhabited the shores of this sea and it is from them that the Caspian takes its name.
The first off-shore oil well was drilled there in 1820, and today, oil and gas production are the two biggest industries in the area, followed by fishing and tourism.
Do you have any interesting facts about the Caspian Sea that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!