The Caspian Sea – October 27th, 2008
The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world. It has a surface area of 371,000 square kilometers (143,244 sq mi) and a volume of 78,200 cubic kilometers (18,761 cu mi). It is an endorheic basin (it has no outflows), and its coastlines are shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. It has a maximum depth of about 1025 meters (3,363 ft). It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third the salinity of most seawater.
Over 130 rivers provide inflow to the Caspian, with the Volga River being the largest. The Caspian also has several small islands; they are primarily located in the North and have a collective land area of roughly 2000 square kilometers. Adjacent to the North Caspian is the Caspian Depression, a low-lying region 27 meters below sea level. The Central Asian steppes stretch across the northeast coast, while the Caucasus mountains hug the Western shore.
The biomes to both the north and east are characterized by cold, continental deserts. Conversely, the climate to the southwest and south are generally warm with uneven elevation due to a mix of highlands and mountain ranges; the drastic changes in climate alongside the Caspian have led to a great deal of biodiversity in the region.
In the main image we can see various bodies of water related to the Caspian Sea. As part of the sea itself, we can observe the Karabogas Bay (central eastern shore) and the Krasnovodsk Gulf (south of the aforementioned bay). On the northwestern shore we can see the Volga River feeding into the sea from Russia. Two nearby lakes are also visible in the bottom left corner: Lake Ulmia in Iran and Lake Van in Turkey.
In Picture 1 we get a clear look at Karabogas Bay, in Turkmenistan, once the site of a controversial dam. The Turkmen shore along the Caspian Sea is 1768 km long. At 188,457 mi² (488,100 km²), Turkmenistan is slightly smaller than Spain, and somewhat larger than the US state of California. Until 199, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. (Nine years ago today, on October 27th, 1991, Turkmenistan declared independence from the Soviet Union, although this independence was not recognized until December 8th, 1991).
In Picture 2, we can the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea, on the shore of Turkmenistan. Along the upper left part of the coastline is the city of Türkmenbaşy. It is Turkmenistans only port and sea link to Europe. Western Turkmenistan has major petroleum and natural gas reserves, and Turkmenistan’s largest oil refinery is in Türkmenbaşy.
In Picture 3, we can see Lake Urmia in Iran, to the east of the Caspian Sea. It is the largest lake in Iran, and the second largest salt lake in the world.
In Picture 4, we can better observe an algal bloom along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, off the Turkmen coast.