Caspian Sea

Caspian Sea

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Encyclopedia
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water
Body of water
A body of water or waterbody is any significant accumulation of water, usually covering the Earth or another planet. The term body of water most often refers to large accumulations of water, such as oceans, seas, and lakes, but it may also include smaller pools of water such as ponds, puddles or...

 on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

. The sea has a surface area of 371000 square kilometre (not including Garabogazköl Aylagy) and a volume of 78200 km³ (18,761.2 cu mi). It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) and is bounded to the northwest by Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, to the west by Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, to the south by Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, to the southeast by Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, and to the northeast by Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

.

The ancient inhabitants of its littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

 perceived the Caspian Sea as an ocean, probably because of its saltiness and seeming boundlessness. It has a salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 of approximately 1.2%, about a third the salinity of most seawater
Seawater
Seawater is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5% . This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately of dissolved salts . The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml...

. The Caspian Sea has been called Gilan (دریای گیلان) on ancient maps. In Iran, it is referred to as Daryâ-ye Mazandaran (دریای مازندران), meaning "the Sea of Mazandaran" in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, and sometimes also as Daryâ-ye Khazar.

Geological history


Like the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, the Caspian Sea is a remnant of the ancient Paratethys Sea
Paratethys
The Paratethys ocean, Paratethys sea or just Paratethys was a large shallow sea that stretched from the region north of the Alps over Central Europe to the Aral Sea in western Asia. The sea was formed during the Oxfordian epoch as an extension of the rift that formed the Central Atlantic Ocean and...

. The Caspian Sea became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to tectonic uplift
Tectonic uplift
Tectonic uplift is a geological process most often caused by plate tectonics which increases elevation. The opposite of uplift is subsidence, which results in a decrease in elevation. Uplift may be orogenic or isostatic.-Orogenic uplift:...

 and a fall in sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

. During warm and dry climatic periods, the landlocked sea has all but dried up, depositing evaporitic sediments
Evaporite
Evaporite is a name for a water-soluble mineral sediment that result from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporate deposits, marine which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine which are found in standing bodies of...

 like halite
Halite
Halite , commonly known as rock salt, is the mineral form of sodium chloride . Halite forms isometric crystals. The mineral is typically colorless or white, but may also be light blue, dark blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or gray depending on the amount and type of impurities...

 that have become covered by wind-blown deposits and were sealed off as an evaporite sink when cool, wet climates refilled the basin. Due to the current inflow of fresh water, the Caspian Sea is a freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 lake in its northern portions. It is more saline on the Iranian shore, where the catchment basin contributes little flow. Currently, the mean salinity of the Caspian is one third that of the Earth's oceans. The Garabogazköl
Garabogazköl
The Garabogazköl Aylagy, alternatively the Kara-Bogaz-Gol is a shallow inundated depression in the northwestern corner of Turkmenistan. It forms a lagoon of the Caspian Sea with a surface area of about...

 embayment, which dried up when water flow from the main body of the Caspian was blocked in the 1980s but has since been restored, routinely exceeds oceanic salinity by a factor of 10.

Geography


The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world and accounts for 40 to 44 percent of the total lacustrine
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 waters of the world. The coastlines of the Caspian are shared by Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. The Caspian is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Northern, Middle, and Southern Caspian. The North-Middle boundary is the Mangyshlak Threshold, which runs through Chechen Island
Chechen Island
Chechen Island , is a coastal island in the Caspian Sea. It is located 20 km east of Krainovka right off a landhead on the western shore of the Caspian....

 and Cape Tiub-Karagan. The Middle-South boundary is the Apsheron Threshold, a sill of tectonic origin between the Eurasian continent and an oceanic remnant, that runs through Zhiloi Island and Cape Kuuli. The Garabogazköl
Garabogazköl
The Garabogazköl Aylagy, alternatively the Kara-Bogaz-Gol is a shallow inundated depression in the northwestern corner of Turkmenistan. It forms a lagoon of the Caspian Sea with a surface area of about...

 bay is the saline eastern inlet of the Caspian, which is part of Turkmenistan and at times has been a lake in its own right due to the isthmus which cuts it off from the Caspian.

Divisions between the three regions are dramatic. The Northern Caspian only includes the Caspian shelf, and is very shallow; it accounts for less than one percent of the total water volume with an average depth of only 5–6 m (16.4–19.7 ft). The sea noticeably drops off towards the Middle Caspian, where the average depth is 190 metres (623.4 ft). The Southern Caspian is the deepest, with oceanic depths of over 1000 metres (3,280.8 ft). The Middle and Southern Caspian account for 33 percent and 66 percent of the total water volume, respectively. The northern portion of the Caspian Sea typically freezes in the winter, and in the coldest winters, ice will form in the south.

Over 130 rivers provide inflow to the Caspian, with the Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 being the largest. A second affluent, the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

, flows in from the north, and the Kura River
Kura River
Kura is a river, also known from the Greek as the Cyrus in the Caucasus Mountains. Starting in north-eastern Turkey, it flows through Turkey to Georgia, then to Azerbaijan, where it receives the Aras River as a right tributary, and enters the Caspian Sea...

 flows into the sea from the west. In the past, the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 (Oxus) of Central Asia in the east often changed course to empty into the Caspian through a now-desiccated riverbed called the Uzboy River
Uzboy River
The Uzboy River was a distributary of the Amu Darya which flowed through the northwestern part of the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan until the 18th century, when it abruptly dried up, destroying in the process the Turkmen civilization which had thrived along its banks.Now a dry river channel and a...

, as did the Syr Darya
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

 farther north. The Caspian also has several small islands; they are primarily located in the North and have a collective land area of roughly 2000 square kilometre. Adjacent to the North Caspian is the Caspian Depression
Caspian Depression
Caspian Depression or Pricaspian/Peri-Caspian Depression/Lowland is a low-lying flatland region encompassing the northern part of the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed body of water on Earth. It is the larger northern part of the wider Aral-Caspian Depression around the Aral and Caspian seas.The...

, a low-lying region 27 metres (89 ft) below sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

. The Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

n steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s stretch across the northeast coast, while the Caucasus mountains
Greater Caucasus
Greater Caucasus , sometimes translated as "Caucasus Major", "Big Caucasus" or "Large Caucasus") is the major mountain range of 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 range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s; the drastic changes in climate alongside the Caspian have led to a great deal of biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 in the region.

Fauna



The Caspian Sea holds great numbers of sturgeon
Sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

, which yield eggs
Roe
Roe or hard roe is the fully ripe internal egg masses in the ovaries, or the released external egg masses of fish and certain marine animals, such as shrimp, scallop and sea urchins...

 that are processed into caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

. Overfishing has depleted a number of the historic fisheries including the economic exhaustion of the tuna fishery. In recent years overfishing has threatened the sturgeon population to the point that environmentalists
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 advocate banning sturgeon fishing completely until the population recovers. However, the high price of sturgeon caviar allows fisherman to afford bribes to ensure the authorities look the other way, making regulations in many locations ineffective. Caviar harvesting further endangers the fish stocks, since it targets reproductive females. The Caspian Sea along with the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 is also home to the native Zebra mussel
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

, which has been accidentally introduced and become an invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 in many countries. The native range of the Common Carp
Common carp
The Common carp is a widespread freshwater fish of eutrophic waters in lakes and large rivers in Europe and Asia. The wild populations are considered vulnerable to extinction, but the species has also been domesticated and introduced into environments worldwide, and is often considered an invasive...

 extends to the Caspian Sea as well as the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and Aral Sea
Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was a lake that lay between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south...

. Like the Zebra mussel it also has become an invasive species where it has been introduced.

The Caspian seal
Caspian Seal
Caspian seals , one of the smallest members of the earless seal family, are unique in that they are found exclusively in the brackish Caspian Sea. They can be found not only along the shorelines, but also on the many rocky islands and floating blocks of ice that dot the Caspian Sea...

 (Phoca caspica, Pusa caspica in some sources), which is endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 to the Caspian Sea, is one of very few seal species
Pinniped
Pinnipeds or fin-footed mammals are a widely distributed and diverse group of semiaquatic marine mammals comprising the families Odobenidae , Otariidae , and Phocidae .-Overview: Pinnipeds are typically sleek-bodied and barrel-shaped...

 that live in inland waters (see also Baikal seal, Saimaa Ringed Seal
Saimaa Ringed Seal
The Saimaa ringed seal The Saimaa ringed seal The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis, is a subspecies of ringed seal (Pusa hispida). They are among the most endangered seals in the world, having a total population of only about 260 individuals. The only existing population of these seals is...

). The area has given its name to several species of birds, including the Caspian gull
Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull is a name applied to the gull taxon Larus cachinnans, a member of the Herring Gull/Lesser Black-backed Gull complex.- Description :...

 and the Caspian tern
Caspian Tern
The Caspian Tern is a species of tern, with a subcosmopolitan but scattered distribution. Despite its extensive range, it is monotypic of its genus, and has no subspecies accepted either...

. There are several species and subspecies of fish endemic to the Caspian Sea, including the kutum
Kutum (fish)
The Kutum also known as "Kütüm" in Azerbaijani, "Caspian White Fish", "Caspian Roach", "māhi sefid" ماهی سفید in Persian, "Talaji" in Mazandarani, and "sifid mahyi" in Gileki , is a medium sized fresh water and brackish water fish native to the Caspian Sea...

 (also known as Caspian white fish
Kutum (fish)
The Kutum also known as "Kütüm" in Azerbaijani, "Caspian White Fish", "Caspian Roach", "māhi sefid" ماهی سفید in Persian, "Talaji" in Mazandarani, and "sifid mahyi" in Gileki , is a medium sized fresh water and brackish water fish native to the Caspian Sea...

), Caspian Marine Shad
Caspian Marine Shad
Caspian Marine Shad is a species of ray-finned fish in the genus Alosa....

, Caspian roach
Rutilus
Rutilus is a genus of fishes in the family Cyprinidae, commonly called roaches. Locally, the name "roach" without any further qualifiers is also used for particular species, particularly the Common Roach Rutilus (Latin for "shining, red, golden, auburn") is a genus of fishes in the family...

, Caspian bream
Carp bream
The common bream, freshwater bream, bream, bronze bream or carp bream, Abramis brama, is a European species of freshwater fish in the family Cyprinidae....

 (some report that the Bream occurring in the Aral Sea is the same subspecies), and a Caspian "salmon" (a subspecies of trout, Salmo trutta caspiensis). The "Caspian salmon" is critically endangered
Critically endangered
Version 2010.3 of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 3744 Critically Endangered species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and subpopulations.Critically Endangered by kingdom:*1993 Animalia*2 Fungi*1745 Plantae*4 Protista-References:...

.

Environmental issues


The Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

, the largest in Europe, drains 20% of the European land area and is the source of 80% of the Caspian’s freshwater inflow. Its lower reaches are heavily developed with numerous unregulated releases of chemical and biological pollutants. Although existing data are sparse and of questionable quality, there is ample evidence to suggest that the Volga is one of the principal sources of transboundary contaminants into the Caspian. The magnitude of fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

 extraction and transport activity constitute risks to water quality. Underwater oil and gas pipelines have been constructed or proposed, increasing potential environmental threats.

Hydrological characteristics


The Caspian has characteristics common to both seas and lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s. It is often listed as the world's largest lake, although it is not a freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 lake. The Caspian became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to plate tectonics
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

. The Volga River
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

 (about 80% of the inflow) and the Ural River
Ural River
The Ural or Jayıq/Zhayyq , known as Yaik before 1775, is a river flowing through Russia and Kazakhstan. It arises in the southern Ural Mountains and ends at the Caspian Sea. Its total length is 1,511 mi making it the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube...

 discharge into the Caspian Sea, but it has no natural outflow other than by evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

. Thus the Caspian ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 is a closed basin, with its own sea level history that is independent of the eustatic level of the world's oceans. The level of the Caspian has fallen and risen, often rapidly, many times over the centuries. Some Russian historians claim that a medieval rising of the Caspian, perhaps caused by the Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 changing its inflow to the Caspian from the 13th century to the 16th century, caused the coastal towns of Khazaria
Khazars
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established one of the largest polities of medieval Eurasia, with the capital of Atil and territory comprising much of modern-day European Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the northern Caucasus , parts of...

, such as Atil, to flood. In 2004, the water level was -28 metres, or 28 metres (92 ft) below sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

.

Over the centuries, Caspian Sea levels have changed in synchronicity with the estimated discharge of the Volga, which in turn depends on rainfall levels in its vast catchment basin. Precipitation is related to variations in the amount of North Atlantic depressions that reach the interior, and they in turn are affected by cycles of the North Atlantic Oscillation
North Atlantic oscillation
The North Atlantic oscillation is a climatic phenomenon in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of atmospheric pressure at sea level between the Icelandic low and the Azores high. Through east-west oscillation motions of the Icelandic low and the Azores high, it controls the...

. Thus levels in the Caspian sea relate to atmospheric conditions in the North Atlantic thousands of miles to the northwest. These factors make the Caspian Sea a valuable place to study the causes and effects of global climate change.

The last short-term sea-level cycle started with a sea-level fall of 3 m (9.84 ft) from 1929 to 1977, followed by a rise of 3 m (9.84 ft) from 1977 until 1995. Since then smaller oscillations have taken place.

Human history


The earliest human remains around Caspian are from Dmanisi
Dmanisi
Dmanisi is a townlet and archaeological site in Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia approximately 93 km southwest of the nation’s capital Tbilisi in the river valley of Mashavera.- History :...

 dating back to around 1.8 ma and yielded a number of skeletal remains of Homo erectus
Homo erectus
Homo erectus is an extinct species of hominid that lived from the end of the Pliocene epoch to the later Pleistocene, about . The species originated in Africa and spread as far as India, China and Java. There is still disagreement on the subject of the classification, ancestry, and progeny of H...

 or ergaster. More later evidence for human occupation of the region come from a number of caves in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and Azerbaijan such as Kudaro and Azykh Cave
Azykh Cave
The Azykh Cave is an impressive six-cave complex known as a living site of stone-age man. It lies about 3 km northeast of the village of Tugh in the Fuzuli Rayon of Azerbaijan...

s. There is evidence for Lower Palaeolithic human occupation at south of Caspian from western Alburz. These are Ganj Par and Darband Cave
Darband Cave
Darband Cave is a Lower Paleolithic site in the Gilan Province in northern Iran, located on the north side of a deep tributary canyon of the Siahrud River, a tributary of the Sefīd-Rūd River that flows into the Caspian Sea....

 sites. Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

 remains also have been discovered at a cave site in Georgia. Discoveries in the Huto cave and the adjacent Kamarband cave, near the town of Behshahr
Behshahr
Behshahr is a city in and the capital of Behshahr County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 83,537, in 22,034 families.It is approximately forty kilometers from Sari. The name Behshahr literally means The Best city...

, Mazandaran south of the Caspian in Iran, suggest human habitation of the area as early as 11,000 years ago.

Etymology


The word Caspian is derived from the name of the Caspi
Caspians
Caspians is the English version of a Greek ethnonym mentioned twice by Herodotus among the satrapies of Darius and applied by Strabo to the ancient people dwelling along the southern and southwestern shores of the Caspian Sea, in the region which was called Caspiane after them...

 , an ancient people that lived to the south west of the sea in Transcaucasia. Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 wrote that "to the country of the Albanians belongs also the territory called Caspiane, which was named after the Caspian tribe, as was also the sea; but the tribe has now disappeared". Moreover, the Caspian Gates, which is the name of a region in Tehran province
Tehran Province
Tehran Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It covers on area of 18,909 square kilometers and is located to the north of the central plateau of Iran....

 of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, is another possible piece of evidence that they migrated to the south of the sea. The Iranian city Qazvin
Qazvin
Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 349,821, in 96,420 families....

 shares the root of its name with that of the sea. In fact, the traditional Islamic name for the sea itself is, Bahr al-Qazwin (Sea of Qazvin).

According to Indian Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 beliefs, the name 'Caspian
Caspian
Caspian can refer to:"Caspian" comes from the word "Gazvin" which is the name of a city in north of Iran and one of the nearest cities to the Caspian sea.*The Caspian Sea*The Caspian Depression, surrounding the northern part of the Caspian Sea...

' is supposed to have been derived from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word 'Kashyapa' the name of an ancient Indian Sage
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

.

In classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 among Greeks and Persians it was called the Hyrcania
Hyrcania
Hyrcania was the name of a satrapy located in the territories of present day Gilan, Golestan, Mazandaran and part of Turkmenistan, lands south of the Caspian Sea. To the Greeks, the Caspian Sea was the "Hyrcanian Sea".-Etymology:...

n Ocean
. In Persian antiquity, as well as in modern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, it is known as the mazandaran sea . Among Indians it was called Kashyap Sagar. In Turkic speaking countries it is known as the Khazar Sea. Old Russian sources call it the Khvalyn (Khvalynian) Sea (Хвалынское море /Хвалисское море) after the Khvalis, inhabitants of Khwarezmia. Ancient Arabic sources refer to as Baḥr Gilan ( - the Caspian/Gilan Sea).

Turkic languages
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 use a consistent nomenclature that is different from the Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 above. For instance, in Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

, the name is Hazar deňizi, in Azeri, it's Xəzər dənizi, and in modern Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, it's Hazar denizi. In all these cases, the second word simply means "sea", and the first word refers to the historical Khazars
Khazars
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people who established one of the largest polities of medieval Eurasia, with the capital of Atil and territory comprising much of modern-day European Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the northern Caucasus , parts of...

 who had a large empire based to the North of the Caspian Sea between the 7th and 10th centuries.

Cities near the Caspian Sea


Historic cities by the sea include
  • Hyrcania
    Hyrcania
    Hyrcania was the name of a satrapy located in the territories of present day Gilan, Golestan, Mazandaran and part of Turkmenistan, lands south of the Caspian Sea. To the Greeks, the Caspian Sea was the "Hyrcanian Sea".-Etymology:...

    , ancient state in the north of Iran
  • Tamisheh, Mazandaran province
    Mazandaran Province
    Mazandaran Province is a Caspian province in the north of Iran. Located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, it is bordered clockwise by the Golestan, Semnan, Tehran, Alborz, Qazvin, and Gilan provinces....

     of Iran
  • Anzali, Gilan province
    Gilan Province
    Gilan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It lies along the Caspian Sea, just west of the province of Mazandaran, east of the province of Ardabil, north of the provinces of Zanjan and Qazvin....

     of Iran
  • Astara
    Astara, Iran
    - People :* Religion: Mostly Islam Shi'a Islam* Ethnic groups:90% Azerbaijani, 5% Talysh, 5% other:Persian, Kurd, Russian * Language: Azeri, Persian, Talysh language- Famous people from Astara :* Ebrahim Nabavi - Iranian journalist...

    , Gilan province
    Gilan Province
    Gilan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It lies along the Caspian Sea, just west of the province of Mazandaran, east of the province of Ardabil, north of the provinces of Zanjan and Qazvin....

     of Iran
  • Atil, Khazaria
  • Khazaran
    Khazaran
    Khazaran was a city in the Khazar kingdom, located on the eastern bank of the lower Volga River. It was connected to Atil by a pontoon bridge.Khazaran was later inhabited primarily by Muslims and featured numerous mosques, minarets, and madrasas...

  • Baku
    Baku
    Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

    , Azerbaijan
  • Derbent
    Derbent
    Derbent |Lak]]: Чурул, Churul; Persian: دربند; Judæo-Tat: דארבּאנד/Дэрбэнд/Dərbənd) is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, close to the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second most important city of Dagestan...

    , Dagestan
    Dagestan
    The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

    , Russia


Modern cities

Major cities by the Caspian Sea:
  • Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

    • Astara
      Astara, Azerbaijan
      Astara, also, Azerbaycan Astarasi is a city in and the capital of the Astara Rayon of Azerbaijan. Astara is a short walk across the border from Astara, Iran.- The TV Tower :There is a 243.9 metre tall lattice steel TV tower, built in 1981...

    • Baku
      Baku
      Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

    • Gobustan
    • Khudat
      Khudat
      Khudat is a town in the Caspian lowlands located in the northern section of Azerbaijan. It is a part of the Khachmaz Rayon. It has a population of 14,442....

    • Khachmaz
      Khachmaz (city)
      Khachmaz is a city in the Khachmaz Rayon of Azerbaijan.-Origin of the name:...

    • Lankaran
      Lankaran
      -History:The city was built on a swamp along the northern bank of the river bearing the city's name. There are remains of human settlements in the area dating back to the Neolithic period as well as ruins of fortified villages from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Lankaran's history is rather recent,...

    • Nabran
      Nabran
      Nabran is a popular resort and municipality in Khachmaz Rayon of Azerbaijan, close to the Russia-Azerbaijan border. It has a population of 1,313. The municipality consists of the villages of Nabran, Dalğalı, Turist, Meşəli, Günəşli, Samurçay, and Şimal...

    • Neftchala
      Neftchala
      Neftchala is a rayon on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Its name is Persian نفت چاله Naft-Chala and means oil trench.-History:The Neftchala region was formed as district in the composition of Azerbaijan Republic on February 11, 1940...

    • Shabran
    • Siyazan
    • Oil Rocks
      Oil Rocks
      Neft Daşları is an industrial settlement in Baku, Azerbaijan. The settlement forms part of the municipality of Çilov-Neft Daşları in Əzizbəyov raion. It lies away from the Azeri capital Baku, and from the nearest shore in the Caspian Sea...

    • Sumqayit
      Sumqayit
      Sumgayit is one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan, located near the Caspian Sea, about 31 kilometres away from the capital, Baku. The city has a population of 308,700 , making it the third-largest city in Azerbaijan after the capital Baku and Ganja. The city has a territory of 83 km². It...



  • Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    • Ali Abad
    • Amol
      Amol
      Amol is a city in and the capital of Amol County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 197,470, in 55,183 families.Amol and the old part of town is the first of the four towns that populate the world in which there is Nzamyh...

    • Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh
      Astaneh-e Ashrafiyyeh
      Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh is a city in and the capital of Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 36,298, in 10,558 families....

    • Astara
      Astara, Iran
      - People :* Religion: Mostly Islam Shi'a Islam* Ethnic groups:90% Azerbaijani, 5% Talysh, 5% other:Persian, Kurd, Russian * Language: Azeri, Persian, Talysh language- Famous people from Astara :* Ebrahim Nabavi - Iranian journalist...

    • Babol
      Babol
      Babol is a city in and the capital of Babol County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 198,636, in 55,943 families....

    • Babolsar
      Babolsar
      Babolsar , also Romanized as Mashhad-i-Sar and Meshed-i-Sar) is a city in and the capital of Babolsar County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 47,872, in 13,442 families....

    • Bandar Anzali
    • Bandar-e-gaz
      Bandar-e-gaz County
      Bandar-e-Gaz County is a county in Golestan Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Bandar Gaz. At the 2006 census, the county's population was 46,179, in 12,059 families. The county has two districts: Now Kandeh District and Central District...

    • Bandar Torkaman
      Bandar Torkaman
      Bandar Torkaman is a city in and capital of Torkaman County, Golestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census its population was 45,045, in 9,755 families.Bandar Torkaman is a port on the Caspian Sea. It is approximately from Tehran...

    • Behshahr
      Behshahr
      Behshahr is a city in and the capital of Behshahr County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 83,537, in 22,034 families.It is approximately forty kilometers from Sari. The name Behshahr literally means The Best city...

    • Chaloos
      Chaloos
      Chalus is a city in and the capital of Chalus County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 44,618, in 12,791 families.-Location:...

    • Fenderesk
      Fenderesk
      Fenderesk is a district in Golestan Province in northern Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 34,326, in 8,206 families.The place in which Mirza Abolghasem Mirfendereski, was born....

    • Ghaem Shahr
    • Gonbad-e Kavus
    • Gorgan
      Gorgan
      Gorgan Some east of Gorgan is the Golestan National Park. The city has a regional airport and several universities. Gorgan Airport was opened in September 2005.-Etymology:...

    • Jooybar
      Jooybar
      Juybar is a city in and the capital of Juybar County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 27,117, in 7,052 families....

    • Kordkuy
      Kordkuy
      Kordkuy is a city in and capital of Kordkuy County, in Golestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 28,991, in 7,611 families.Kordkuy is located on the west part of the Golestân province...

    • Lahijan
      Lahijan
      Lahijan is a city in and the capital of Lahijan County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 71,871, in 21,518 families....

    • Langrud
    • Mahmood Abad
      Mahmood Abad
      Mahmudabad is a city in and the capital of Mahmudabad County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 27,561, in 7,513 families....

    • Neka
      Neka
      Neka is a city in and the capital of Neka County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 26,152, in 11,941 families....

    • Nowshahr
    • Nur
      Noor, Iran
      Nur is a city in and capital of Nur County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 21,806, in 6,164 families.Located on the Caspian Sea coast, Nur is one of the oldest cities of west Mazandaran Province...

    • Ramsar
    • Rasht
      Rasht
      Rasht is a city in and the capital of Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 551,161, in 159,983 families.Rasht is the largest city on Iran's Caspian Sea coast. It is a major trade center between Caucasia, Russia and Iran using the port of Bandar-e Anzali...

    • Rudbar
      Rudbar
      Rudbar is a city in and the capital of Rudbar County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 11,454, in 3,303 families....

    • Rudsar
      Roudsar
      Rudsar is a city in and the capital of Rudsar County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 33,321, in 9,741 families....

    • Sari
      Sari, Iran
      Sari is the provincial capital of Mazandaran and former capital of Iran , located in the north of Iran, between the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains and southern coast of the Caspian Sea...

    • Tonekabon
      Tonekabon
      Tonekabon , also Romanized as Shahsavār and Shahsawār) is a city in and the capital of Tonekabon County, Mazandaran Province, Iran...

  • Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

    • Atyrau
      Atyrau
      Atyrau , known as Guryev until 1991, is a city in Kazakhstan, and the capital of Atyrau Province. It is located at the mouth of the Ural River, 2700 kilometers west of Almaty and 350 kilometers east of the Russian city of Astrakhan. Other transliterations include Aterau, Atirau, Atyraw, Atyraou,...

       (formerly Guriev)
    • Aqtau (formerly Shevchenko)
  • Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    • Astrakhan
      Astrakhan
      Astrakhan is a major city in southern European Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast. The city lies on the left bank of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of below the sea level. Population:...

    • Dagestanskiye Ogni
      Dagestanskiye Ogni
      Dagestanskiye Ogni is a town in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, situated on the coast of the Caspian Sea, south of Makhachkala. Population:...

    • Derbent
      Derbent
      Derbent |Lak]]: Чурул, Churul; Persian: دربند; Judæo-Tat: דארבּאנד/Дэрбэнд/Dərbənd) is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, close to the Azerbaijani border. It is the southernmost city in Russia, and it is the second most important city of Dagestan...

    • Izberbash
      Izberbash
      Izberbash is a town in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, located on the coast of the Caspian Sea southeast of Makhachkala. Population: A majority of the population are Dargins....

    • Kaspiysk
      Kaspiysk
      Kaspiysk , until 1947 known as Dvigatelstroy , is a city in the Republic of Dagestan, Russia, located on the Caspian Sea, southeast of Makhachkala. Population: 43,000 ....

    • Makhachkala
      Makhachkala
      -Twin towns/sister cities:Makhachkala is twinned with: Sfax, Tunisia Siping, China Spokane, United States Vladikavkaz, Russia Yalova, Turkey Ndola, Zambia-See also:*...

  • Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

    • Türkmenbaşy
      Türkmenbasy, Turkmenistan
      Türkmenbaşy , formerly known as Krasnovodsk and, more properly, Kyzyl-Su, is a city in Balkan Province in Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea. It is located at latitude 40.0231 North; longitude 52.9697 East, at an altitude of 27 meters. The population was 86,800, mostly...

       (formerly Krasnovodsk)
    • Hazar
      Hazar, Turkmenistan
      Hazar is a city in Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea, part of the Balkan Province, formerly Çeleken, also written Cheleken.-Petroleum:This city and area is within a rich petroleum oil reserves. As far back as 1st century, the Greek philosopher Strabo said, "They say, diggers opened oily springs near...

       (formerly Çeleken)
    • Esenguly
      Esenguly, Turkmenistan
      Esenguly is a city in Turkmenistan, part of the Balkan Province.-References:...

    • Garabogaz
      Garabogaz, Turkmenistan
      Garabogaz is a city in Turkmenistan, part of the Balkan Province. Until 2002 it was named Bekdaş [Bake-dash].Located on a ridge which divides the Garabogazköl lagoon from the Caspian Sea, the city is richly blessed by the abundant and varied mineral resources of the Garabogazköl...

       (formerly Bekdaş)

Islands



The Caspian Sea has numerous islands throughout, all of them near the coasts. There are none in deeper parts of the Sea. Ogurja Ada
Ogurja Ada
Ogurja Ada is the largest island in Turkmenistan and the longest in the Caspian Sea. Ogurja Island is also widely known by its Russian name Ogurchinskiy Island ....

 is the largest island. The island is 37 km long, with gazelle
Gazelle
A gazelle is any of many antelope species in the genus Gazella, or formerly considered to belong to it. Six species are included in two genera, Eudorcas and Nanger, which were formerly considered subgenera...

s roaming freely in it.

In the North Caspian, the majority of the islands are small and uninhabited, like the Tyuleniy Archipelago
Tyuleniy Archipelago (Kazakhstan)
The Tyuleniy Archipelago or Tüledi Araldary is an island group in the northeastern Caspian Sea, located west of the Mangyshlak Peninsula and about 13 km NW of the Tupkaragan Peninsula, 27 km north of Bautino....

, an Important Bird Area
Important Bird Area
An Important Bird Area is an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations. Currently there are about 10,000 IBAs worldwide. The program was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife International...

 (IBA), although some of them do have human settlers.

Many of the islands nearby the Azerbaijan coast hold significant geopolitical and economic importance due to their oil reserves. Bulla Island
Bulla Island
Bulla Island, also Khara Zira or Khere Zire, Azeri: Bulla adası is an island in the Bay of Baku, Caspian Sea. It is the largest island of the Baku Archipelago, located off Baku, Azerbaijan....

 is off the coast of Azerbaijan, and holds tremendous oil reserves. Pirallahı Island
Pirallahi Island
Pirallahi Island or Pirallakhi Island is an island in the Caspian Sea. The island is part of Azerbaijan, and is located right off the northeastern shore of the Apsheron Peninsula, to the ENE of Baku....

, off the Azerbaijani coast as well, also possesses oil reserves; it was one of the first places in Azerbaijan found to have oil, and was the first place in the Caspian Sea to have sectional drilling done. Nargin was used as a former Soviet base and is the largest island in the Baku
Baku
Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

 bay. Ashuradeh
Ashuradeh
Ashūradeh , or Ashur Ada , is the only island of the Iranian coast of the Caspian Sea. Ashuradeh's surface is .It is located on the eastern end of the Miankaleh peninsula in the county of Behshahr of Māzandarān Province of Iran, from Bandar Torkaman and from Gorgan.The island can be reached via...

 is situated on the easternmost end of Miankaleh peninsula to the north east of Gorgan Bay, near the Iranian coast. It was separated from the peninsula after islanders created a channel.

Various islands, particularly around Azerbaijan, have suffered extensive environmental damage due to oil production. Vulf
Vulf
Vulf or Volf is an island also known as Dash Zira . The word "Zira" originated in the Arabic word "Jazīra", meaning "island". Vulf is tiny and uninhabited...

, for example, suffered severe ecological damage from oil production in the neighboring islands, although Caspian seal
Caspian Seal
Caspian seals , one of the smallest members of the earless seal family, are unique in that they are found exclusively in the brackish Caspian Sea. They can be found not only along the shorelines, but also on the many rocky islands and floating blocks of ice that dot the Caspian Sea...

s and various species of marine birds continue to be found.

Historical development


The Caspian area is rich in energy resources. Wells were being dug in the region as early as the 10th century. By the 16th century, Europeans were aware of the rich oil and gas deposits around the area. English traders Thomas Bannister and Jeffrey Duckett described the area around Baku as “a strange thing to behold, for there issueth out of the ground a marvelous quantity of oil, which serveth all the country to burn in their houses. This oil is black and is called nefte. There is also by the town of Baku, another kind of oil which is white and very precious (i.e., petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

)."

The world’s first offshore wells and machine-drilled wells were made in Bibi-Heybat Bay, near Baku, Azerbaijan. In 1873, exploration and development of oil began in some of the largest fields known to exist in the world at that time on the Absheron peninsula
Absheron
The Absheron peninsula, is a region in Azerbaijan. It is host to Baku, the biggest and the most populous city of the country, and also the Baku metropolitan area, with its satellite cities Sumgayit and Khyrdalan....

 near the villages of Balakhanli, Sabunchi, Ramana and Bibi Heybat. Total recoverable reserves were more than 500 million tons. By 1900, Baku had more than 3,000 oil wells, 2,000 of which were producing at industrial levels. By the end of the 19th century, Baku became known as the "black gold capital", and many skilled workers and specialists flocked to the city.

By the turn of the 20th century, Baku was the center of international oil industry. In 1920, when the Bolsheviks captured Azerbaijan, all private property - including oil wells and factories - was confiscated. Afterwards, the republic's entire oil industry came under the control of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. By 1941, Azerbaijan was producing a record 23.5 million tons of oil, and the Baku region supplied nearly 72% of all oil extracted in the entire USSR.

In 1994, the "Contract of the Century" was signed, signaling the start of major international development of the Baku oil fields. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, a major pipeline allowing Azerbaijan oil to flow straight to the Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 port of Ceyhan
Ceyhan
Ceyhan is a city in southeast Turkey and with 105,000 inhabitants it is the second largest city of Adana Province after the capital Adana. Ceyhan is the transportation hub for Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Russian oil and natural gas. It is situated on the Ceyhan River, from which it takes...

, opened in 2006.

Current concerns


The oil in the Caspian basin is estimated to be worth over US $12 trillion. The sudden collapse of the USSR and subsequent opening of the region has led to an intense investment and development scramble by international oil companies. In 1998 Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 commented that "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."

A key problem to further development in the region is the status of the Caspian Sea and the establishment of the water boundaries among the five littoral states (see below). The current disputes along Azerbaijan's maritime borders with Turkmenistan and Iran could potentially affect future development plans.

Much controversy currently exists over the proposed Trans-Caspian oil
Trans-Caspian Oil Pipeline
The Trans-Caspian Oil Transport System is a proposed project to transport oil through the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstani Caspian oilfields to Baku in Azerbaijan for the further transportation to the Mediterranean or Black Sea coast. The main options under consideration are an offshore oil pipeline...

 and gas
Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline
The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline is a proposed submarine pipeline between Türkmenbaşy in Turkmenistan, and Baku in Azerbaijan. According to some proposals it will also include a connection between the Tengiz Field in Kazakhstan, and Türkmenbaşy...

 pipelines. These projects would allow western markets easier access to Kazakh oil, and potentially Uzbek and Turkmen gas as well. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 has given its support for the pipelines. Russia officially opposes the project on environmental grounds. Analysts note that the pipelines would bypass Russia completely, thereby denying the country valuable transit fees, as well as destroying its current monopoly on westward-bound hydrocarbon exports from the region. Recently both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have expressed their support for the Trans-Caspian Pipeline.

Existing and proposed canals


Although the Caspian Sea is endorheic
Endorheic
An endorheic basin is a closed drainage basin that retains water and allows no outflow to other bodies of water such as rivers or oceans...

, its main tributary, Volga, is connected by important shipping canals with the Don River (and thus the Black Sea) and with the Baltic Sea, with branch canals to Northern Dvina
Northern Dvina Canal
The Northern Dvina Canal is a 64 km long canal in Vologda Oblast in Russia. It connects the Volga-Baltic Waterway to the Northern Dvina River through its tributary, the Sukhona River...

 and to the White Sea
White Sea-Baltic Canal
The White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal , often abbreviated to White Sea Canal is a ship canal in Russia opened on 2 August 1933. It connects the White Sea with Lake Onega, which is further connected to the Baltic Sea. Until 1961, its original name was the Stalin White Sea – Baltic Sea Canal...

.

Another Caspian tributary, the Kuma River
Kuma River (Russia)
The Kuma is an long river in southern Russia. Its drainage basin is 33 500 square km. Its source is in the Greater Caucasus, in the republic Karachay-Cherkessia, west of Kislovodsk...

, is connected by an irrigation canal
Kuma-Manych Canal
The Kuma–Manych Canal is an irrigation canal in Russia's Stavropol Krai. The canal, completed in 1965, runs across the Kuma–Manych Depression, connecting the Kuma River, which flows into the Caspian Sea, with the East Manych River, which also flows toward the Caspian, but dries out long before...

 with the Don basin as well.

Canals proposed in the past


The Main Turkmen Canal
Main Turkmen Canal
The Main Turkmen Canal was a large-scale irrigation project in Soviet Turkmenistan. The canal was intended to transport water from the Amu Darya river to Krasnovodsk , a city in Turkmenistan on the coast of the Caspian Sea...

, construction of which was started in 1950, would run from Nukus
Nukus
Nukus is the sixth-largest city in Uzbekistan, and the capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic. It has a population of 260,000...

 on the Amu-Darya to Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea. It would be used not only for irrigation, but also for shipping, connecting the Amu-Darya and the Aral Sea
Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was a lake that lay between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south...

 with the Caspian. The project was abandoned soon after the death of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, in favor of the Qaraqum Canal
Qaraqum Canal
The Qaraqum Canal in Turkmenistan is one of the largest irrigation and water supply canals in the world...

, which runs on a more southerly route and does not reach the Caspian.

Since the 1930s through the 1980s, the projects for a Pechora-Kama Canal
Pechora-Kama Canal
Pechora–Kama Canal , or sometimes Kama–Pechora Canal was a proposed canal intended to link up the basin of the Pechora River in the north of European Russia with the basin of the Kama, a tributary of the Volga...

 were widely discussed, and some construction experiments using nuclear explosions were conducted in 1971. For this project, shipping was a secondary consideration; the main goal was to redirect some of the water
Northern river reversal
The Northern river reversal or Siberian river reversal was an ambitious project to divert the flow of the Northern rivers in the Soviet Union, which "uselessly" drain into the Arctic Ocean, southwards towards the populated agricultural areas of Central Asia, which lack water.Research and planning...

 of the Pechora River
Pechora River
The Pechora River is a river in northwest Russia which flows north into the Arctic Ocean on the west side of the Ural Mountains. It lies mostly in the Komi Republic but the northernmost part crosses the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. It is 1,809 km long and its basin is 322,000 square kilometers...

 (which flows into the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

) via the Kama
Kama River
Kama is a major river in Russia, the longest left tributary of the Volga and the largest one in discharge; in fact, it is larger than the Volga before junction....

 into the Volga. The goals were both irrigation and stabilizing the water level in the Caspian, which was thought to be falling dangerously fast at the time.

Eurasia Canal


In June 2007, in order to boost his oil-rich country's access to markets, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

's President Nursultan Nazarbaev proposed a 700 km link between the Caspian and Black sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

s. It is hoped that the "Eurasia Canal
Eurasia Canal
The Eurasia Canal is a proposed 700-kilometre long canal connecting the Caspian Sea to the lower Black Sea along the Kuma-Manych Depression, which is often considered the border between Europe and Asia...

" (Manych Ship Canal
Manych Ship Canal
The Manych Ship Canal is an existing canal system between the basins of the Sea of Azov/Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. There are proposals to expand the system into a large canal called Eurasia Canal....

)
) would transform the landlocked Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries into maritime states, enabling them to significantly increase trade volume. While the canal would traverse Russian territory, it would benefit Kazakhstan through its Caspian Sea ports.
The most likely route for the canal, the officials at the Committee on Water Resources at Kazakhstan's Agriculture Ministry say, would follow the Kuma-Manych Depression
Kuma-Manych Depression
The Kuma–Manych Depression , is a geological depression in southwestern Russia that separates the Russian Plain from the Fore-Caucasus...

, where currently a chain of rivers and lakes is already connected by an irrigation canal (Kuma-Manych Canal
Kuma-Manych Canal
The Kuma–Manych Canal is an irrigation canal in Russia's Stavropol Krai. The canal, completed in 1965, runs across the Kuma–Manych Depression, connecting the Kuma River, which flows into the Caspian Sea, with the East Manych River, which also flows toward the Caspian, but dries out long before...

). Upgrading the Volga–Don Canal would be another option.

International disputes


Negotiations related to the demarcation of the Caspian Sea have been going on for nearly a decade among the states bordering the Caspian - Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

The status of the Caspian Sea is the key problem. There are three major considerations affected by the Caspian Sea status: access to mineral resources (oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

), access for fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 and access to international waters
International waters
The terms international waters or trans-boundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water transcend international boundaries: oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas and estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwater systems , and wetlands.Oceans,...

 (through Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

's Volga river and the canals connecting it to the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

). Access to the Volga River is particularly important for the landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

 states of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. This matter is of course sensitive to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, because this potential traffic will move through its territory (albeit onto the inland waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

s). If a body of water is labeled as Sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 then there would be some precedents and international treaties obliging the granting of access permits to foreign vessels. If a body of water is labeled merely as lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 then there are no such obligations. Environmental
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

 issues are also somewhat connected to the status and border
Border
Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states and other subnational entities. Some borders—such as a state's internal administrative borders, or inter-state borders within the Schengen Area—are open and...

s issue.

It should be mentioned that Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 got the bulk of the former Soviet Caspian military fleet
Caspian Flotilla
The Caspian Flotilla is the oldest Russian military flotilla, stationed in the Caspian Sea. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1945.-Establishment:...

 (and also currently has the most powerful military presence in the Caspian Sea). Some assets were assigned to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

. Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and especially Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 got a very small share because they lack major port cities.

According to a treaty
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 signed between Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 (Persia) and the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea is technically a lake and it is to be divided into two sectors (Persian and Soviet), but the resources (then mainly fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

) would be commonly shared. The line between the two sectors was to be seen as an international border in a common lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

, like Lake Albert. Also the Soviet sector was sub-divided into administrative sectors of the four littoral republics.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union not all of the newly independent states assumed continuation of the old treaty. At first Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 announced that they would continue to adhere to the old treaty.

After the old Soviet Union split into fifteen nations, including Caspian Sea neighbors Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, Iran has called for an equal division of the Caspian Sea among the five countries: Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia. If this division does not come to pass, then Iran intends to recognize only its old treaty (between Iran and Russia) and will challenge Russia to divide its 50% share among the three littoral states - Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan - over a more friendly position toward the West and the U.S, such as opening of U.S interest section in Tehran.

Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 announced that they do not consider themselves parties to this treaty.

Later followed some proposals for common agreement between all littoral states about the status of the sea:
  • Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

    , Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

     and Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

     insisted that the sectors should be based on the median line, thus giving each state a share proportional to its Caspian coastline length. Also the sectors would form part of the sovereign territory of the particular state (thus making them international borders and also allowing each state to deal with all resources within its sector as it wishes unilaterally).
  • Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     insisted that the sectors should be such that each state gets a 1/5 share of the whole Caspian Sea. This was advantageous to Iran, because it has a proportionally smaller coastline.
  • Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     proposed a somewhat compromising solution: the seabed (and thus mineral resources) to be divided along sectoral lines (along the two above-described variants), the surface (and thus fishing rights) to be shared between all states (with the following variations: the whole surface to be commonly shared; each state to receive an exclusive zone and one single common zone in the center to be shared. The second variant is deemed not practical, because of the small size of the whole sea).

Current situation



Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 have agreed to a solution about their sectors. There are no problems between Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

, but the latter is not actively participating, so there is no agreement either. Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 is at odds with Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 over some oil fields that the both states claim. There have been occasions where Iranian patrol boats have opened fire at vessels sent by Azerbaijan for exploration into the disputed region. There are similar tensions between Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 (the latter claims that the former has pumped more oil than agreed from a field, recognized by both parties as shared). Less acute are the issues between Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Regardless, the southern part of the sea remains disputed.
  • Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     and Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

     signed a treaty, according to which, they divide the northern part of the Caspian Sea between them into two sectors along the median line. Each sector is an exclusive zone of its state. Thus all resources, seabed and surface are exclusive to the particular state.
  • Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     and Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

     signed a similar treaty regarding their common border.
  • Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

     and Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

     signed a similar treaty regarding their common border.
  • Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     does not recognize the bilateral agreements between the other littoral states. Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     continues to insist on a single multilateral agreement between all five littoral states (as the only way to achieve 1/5-th share).
  • The position of Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

     is unclear.


After Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 adopted the median line sectoral division and the three treaties already signed between some littoral states this is looking like the realistic method for regulating the Caspian borders. The Russian sector is fully defined. The Kazakhstan sector is not fully defined, but is not disputed either. Azerbaijan's, Turkmenistan's and Iran's sectors are not fully defined. It is not clear if the issue of Volga-access to vessels from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 is covered by their agreements with Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and also what the conditions are for Volga-access for vessels from Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

The Caspian littoral States meeting in 2007 signed an agreement that bars any ship not flying the national flag of a littoral state from entering Caspian waters.

Transport


Several scheduled ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 services (including train ferries
Train ferry
A train ferry is a ship designed to carry railway vehicles. Typically, one level of the ship is fitted with railway tracks, and the vessel has a door at the front and/or rear to give access to the wharves. In the United States, train ferries are sometimes referred to as "car ferries", as...

) operate on the Caspian Sea, including:
  • a line between Türkmenbaşy
    Türkmenbasy, Turkmenistan
    Türkmenbaşy , formerly known as Krasnovodsk and, more properly, Kyzyl-Su, is a city in Balkan Province in Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea. It is located at latitude 40.0231 North; longitude 52.9697 East, at an altitude of 27 meters. The population was 86,800, mostly...

    , Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

     (formerly Krasnovodsk) and Baku
    Baku
    Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

    .
  • a line between Baku and Aktau
    Aktau
    Aktau , formerly known as Shevchenko , is a city in Kazakhstan's Mangyshlak Peninsula and country's only seaport on the Caspian Sea. It is the capital of Mangystau Province in western Kazakhstan...

    .
  • several lines between cities in Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

     and Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    .

See also

  • Baku Oil Fields
  • Caspian people
  • Ekranoplan, a plane dubbed the "Caspian Sea Monster"
  • Epoch of Extremal Inundations
    Epoch of Extremal Inundations
    The Epoch of Extremal Inundations is the unique nature event in the past. This theory is about wide inundations in the Ponto-Caspian basins which have been associated not only with well-known marine transgressions but also with four landscapes: marine lowlands , river valleys , transgressions and...

  • Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea
    Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea
    Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea is a regional convention signed by the official representatives of the five littoral Caspian states: Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation and Turkmenistan in Tehran on 4 November 2003...

  • Shah Deniz gas field
    Shah Deniz gas field
    Shah Deniz gas field is the largest natural gas field in Azerbaijan. It is situated in the South Caspian Sea, off the coast of Azerbaijan, approximately southeast of Baku, at a depth of . The field covers approximately . The Shah Deniz gas and condensate field was discovered in 1999...

  • Tengiz Field
    Tengiz Field
    Tengiz field is an oil and gas field located in northwestern Kazakhstan's low-lying wetlands along the northeast shores of the Caspian Sea...


External links