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Azerbaijan: The Caspian Sea

Azerbaijan: The Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea is one of Azerbaijan’s greatest resources. It serves as a critical trade route, provides an abundance of fresh seafood, and some energy experts estimate that there are trillions of US dollars worth of oil beneath the sea floor. About 90% of Azerbaijan’s $30 Billion annual export market is in oil and gas. Oil helps keep Azerbaijan competitive in the global economy.

While oil plays a large role in Azerbaijan, the Caspian also provides food both for local consumption and throughout the world by commercial exportation. The Caspian sea is sprawling with diversity, but Caspian salmon, sturgeon, and sardines are most notable. Interestingly, about a third of the species of fish in the sea are endemic, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world.

If fish and oil weren’t a big enough contribution, salt deposits alongside the shores of the Caspian are an additional resource. Recently, a 5,500 year-old salt mine was discovered in the western part of the country, proving that people here have been harvesting salt for thousands of years. There are two ways to collect salt from the Earth. One way is through mining or separating salt from the layers of rock deep under the Earth’s surface. Another way is by allowing the salt water from a sea or an ocean to evaporate and collecting the large chunky crystals that are left behind as the water evaporates.

One need not look far to understand the importance of the Caspian to the country. It’s a Herculean task to maintain a healthy habitat for the species that live here, though, especially with all of the activities that take both place above and beneath the water’s surface.

Zoe

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