55 Caspian Sea Facts: Learn More About The World's Largest Lake

Christian Mba
Oct 24, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Feb 16, 2022
Caspian Sea caused widespread destruction in 1977
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.0 Min

The Caspian Sea region is the largest known inland water body, also known as both a lake and sea due to its large size.

The Caspian Sea is also the world's largest saltwater body, along with the Black, Aral, and Azov seas, created from a single ancient saltwater basin. This inland sea is equally polluted, making it unsafe to swim in.

With a stretch of 750 mi (1207 km) from northern Caspian and southern Caspian and a width of 200 mi (320 km), the water body is bound by five Middle-East and East European nations. It is bounded from mid-north to mid-east by Kazakhstan, from the southwest by Azerbaijan, from mid-north and mid-west by Russia, adjacent southern corners by Iran, and Turkmenistan along the southern Caspian's east coast comprise the Caspian Sea basin. The Caspian Sea is also home to numerous islands doting its shoreline, with none present in deep waters. It is majorly saline in the Iranian shore, while the northern parts of the Caspian Sea region have a large inflow of freshwater from various major rivers.

Facts About The Caspian Sea

Caspian Sea facts flaunt its long-surviving history, fun facts, unknown exciting trivia, and various other contributions with its rich flora and fauna. This central Asia-based sea has played a great part in shaping the surrounding Caspian region's economy. Caspian area borders Asia and Europe, sharing its natural contributions to both continents. Caspian Sea's characteristics, being common to both sea and lake, has made it star in both lists.

  • The name 'Caspian' comes from the name of the region's ancient inhabitants called 'Caspi people.' The Caspian Sea is also known as Khazar Sea, Mazandaran Sea, and Hyrcanian Sea.
  • More than 130 rivers flow into the Caspian Sea, but there is no outlet for these rivers to flow out. This is why the northern parts of the Caspian Sea have freshwater, and freshwater-found species, while the southern areas of the lake are saline.
  • The Caspian Sea is believed to fall next to the world's largest lagoon, the Kara-Bogaz Gol lagoon. These two popular regions are separated by sand bars.
  • The sea has a surface area of 143,200 sq mi (371,000 sq km), with a surface area lying 92 ft (28 m) below sea level.
  • Whether the Caspian Sea is a sea or lake is still uncertain as the water body displays characteristics like the salinity of a sea while lacking connection to an ocean, making it eligible to be known as a lake.
  • Caspian Sea's status is a matter of political conflict. As mentioned in the 'Journal Of Eurasian Studies,' the Caspian Sea's status as a lake would ensue international law to lose all control over its waters. Its status as sea allows international authorities to deliver input on its use.
  • The Volga River brings the largest freshwater inflow to the Caspian Sea, supplying around 80% of its inflow to the lake.
  • The untreated waste flowing from the Volga River is causing major damage to the ecological life of the Caspian Sea.
  • The shoreline of the Caspian Sea is home to diverse aquatic plant species thriving in both the saline and freshwater regions.
  • The Caspian Sea surrounding regions primarily capitalize from the natural resources found in the Caspian region. The gas and oil reserves constitute 10% of GDP and 40% of exports in these regions.
  • The Caspian Sea lies in the dry region of the world and experiences a similar sandy, humid and hot climate. Winters can be equally harsh, especially in the northern region of the sea.
  • Cases of tuberculosis, blood diseases, and a few other illnesses are quite common in the Caspian region as compared to other areas.
  • The Caspian Sea seabed has uneven depressions as the maximum depth of various parts of the sea differ widely.

Caspian Sea History

The largest inland water body has a deep history, constantly changing geological features along with complicated socio-cultural and political aspects. Through the years, the changing ownership of resources and their geological history has been a topic of discussion among researchers to unveil the depth of these facts. The earliest recorded settlement in the coastal towns of the Caspian Sea dates back to 1.8 million years, recorded through skeletal remains of ancient humans across the coastal region. The Caspian Sea's geological history is divided into two stages, namely Miocene and the Pleistocene.

  • The Caspian Sea came into existence 5.5 million years ago as a result of tectonic plate shift landlocking the area apart from an ancient sea.
  • Archaeological studies have shown the existence of an even wealthier fauna with incredible species through petroglyphs found in Gobustan. Animals such as baleen, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and more were in abundance.
  • Estimations claim the Caspian Sea to be 30 million years old.
  • According to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), by the 10th century, small oil wells started dotting the shores of Caspian.
  • The news of resource-rich areas flew to Europe, and they started making their way to the Caspian region around the 16th century.
  • The first offshore oil well was drilled in the Caspian Sea in the year 1820.
  • The mid 19th and late 20th centuries saw a great fluctuation in the sea level of the Caspian Sea.
  • The Caspian Sea caused widespread destruction in 1977 when a flood occurred in the lake. After this event, several floods and a rise in water levels were also observed.
  • The time period between 1994 and 1996 saw a substantial rise in sea level, leading to a reduction in the number of habitats of rare species in aquatic vegetation.
  • In 2021, a large fire erupted in the Caspian Sea, near Azerbaijan's capital city Baku, which was caused due to a mud volcano that erupted mud and flammable gas.
  • The salinity induced in the Caspian Sea is due to comprising a fair share of the ancient Paratethys Sea. At the same time, the river inflow ensures freshwater supply in the inland water body.
  • Paratethys Sea was once connected to both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but the continental platform shifts led the sea to lose connection with these water bodies.
  • Lower Palaeolithic human occupation evidence was found in the south Caspian. Neanderthal remains were also found.
  • The Caspian Sea has no natural source of outflow other than evaporation. Recent years have observed a fluctuation in these levels due to climate change.
Caspian Sea is also known as Khazar Sea

Caspian Sea Ecosystem

The Caspian ecosystem is considered to be an independent zoogeographical region due to its unique biodiversity. From sheltering migratory birds on its lengthy shoreline to nurturing aquatic mammal and diverse fish species, the Caspian Sea ecosystem thrives on its natural resources. 

Along with being a refuge for animals, the rich oil supply and other financially valuable resources are found in the Caspian Sea and its neighboring regions. With an increase in ecological harms, flora and fauna surrounding Caspian are also on the verge of redeeming the very ramifications of abusing natural wealth.

  • The maximum depth of this waterbody is 3,363 ft (1,025 m), with an average depth of 693 ft (211 m) below sea level.
  • The Caspian Sea came into existence as the ancient Paretethys sea suffered a tectonic uplift, and the region was landlocked into what is now known as the Caspian Sea.
  • The Caspian Sea consists of 3.5 times more water in volume than North America's five greatest lakes combined.
  • Several species are specifically named after the region, including the Caspian gull, Caspian seal, and Caspian tern.
  • The coastal regions of the Caspian Sea experience the annual arrival of migratory marine birds.
  • Beluga sturgeon, also known as European or Caspian sturgeon, is the most valuable fish in the region. Sturgeon is known for its caviar; an expensive delicacy served in high-end dining places.
  • Overfishing in the Caspian region has left the sturgeon population in danger.
  • The Caspian Sea has seen a constant fluctuation in its sea-level history through the years, which is landlocked away from the world's oceans.
  • The western shore of the middle Caspian region is covered with the hills,
  • Annually, the Caspian Sea emits 15-20 million tons of Carbon dioxide equivalents during the drilling and refinery process of natural resources.
  • Around 2000 species and sub-species of animals live in and around the Caspian Sea.
  • The sea depth of the Caspian seabed is the world's second-lowest natural depression in the world.
  • Ogurja Ada is the last island found around the Caspian Sea.
  • The Caspian Sea has been important for onshore and offshore oil refineries.
  • Oil refineries have left a negative impact on environmental diversity and the health of residents living around coastal regions of the Caspian Sea due to contamination. Disease and disabilities frequently occur around coastal areas.

Caspian Sea Importance

Besides owning a treasure of marine life, the Caspian Sea's importance lies in its abundant natural resources. From crude oil wells to gas deposits, the Caspian Sea has been one of the first places to initiate offshore natural gas and oil refineries. 

The Caspian region is a significant hub for oil reserves and a focal point of various conflicts as well. The growing importance of the Caspian Sea is also leading it towards various ecological threats. The Caspian Sea is a major source of daily income for millions of people, and the rising ecological threat, as a consequence, is also set to harm these people.

  • Around 90% of the world's caviar supply comes from the Caspian Sea.
  • The Caspian Sea is an abundant source of energy resources.
  • 1.4–1.5 million barrels of oil per day is the average output from the Caspian Sea.
  • Roe farming is a lucrative option for fisheries that led to the overfishing of various Sturgeon species. Environmental activists are raising their voices to implement a ban against these practices.
  • Thousands of Caspian seals have died since 2000 due to the growing pollution in the water body.
  • The Volga is the major passage of trade for landlocked countries to other countries.
  • Fossil fuel extraction is also one of the leading natural resources in the Caspian region.
  • Climate changes and raging levels of pollution due to resource extraction practices are some of the major causes posing risks to the Caspian Sea and its environment.
  • The lake is said to have 73 endemics and 115 native species of animals along with various endemic plant species.
  • Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan heavily influenced the world's energy markets with excessive natural resources. With time, they slowly gained prominence in the sphere and started attracting the largest share of Foreign Direct Investments.
  • The year 1873 saw the initiation of exploration and development in some of the biggest known oil fields located in the Absheron Peninsula. A total of 500 million tons worth reserves were recoverable, which led Baku to gain the title of 'Black Gold Capital.'
  • Aquatic life in the Caspian Sea is at great risk due to the depletion of natural resources, pollution, and harmful agricultural practices. One of the most significant aquatic species, Beluga sturgeon, faces fertility issues due to agricultural fertilization, leading to a lowered number of fish.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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