The Caspian Sea
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The Caspian Sea

December 5, 2005

The Caspian Sea dominates this image at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The Caspian is just Southwest of the Ural Mountains, the traditional dividing line between the two continents. It is bordered by Russia and Azerbaijan to the West, Kazakhstan to the North, Turkmenistan to the East, and Iran to the South.

The Caspian is the largest inland body of water in the world, measuring over 370,000 square kilometers (143,000 square miles). It is fed by the Volga and Ural Rivers, but it has no natural outlet; instead, water is lost primarily through evaporation.

It is relatively shallow, measuring only about a 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) deep; in contrast, the deepest lake in the world (Lake Baikal) is 1.6 kilometers (0.9 miles) deep but only about 31,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) in area.

The Caspian, although sometimes classified as a lake, is comprised of salt, not fresh, water. The Caspian Sea is a major source of sturgeon, a highly valuable type of fish that produces most of the world's caviar.

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