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.
While oil plays a large role in Azerbaijan’s economy, the Caspian also provides food both for local consumption and throughout the world by commercial exportation. The Caspian sea is sprawling with diversity: Caspian salmon, sturgeon, and sardines to name a few. 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 along the shores of the Caspian are another 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.
The role of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan is incredible and it is near impossible to imagine Azerbaijan without it. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy habitat for the species that live here, especially with all of the activities that take place both above and beneath the water’s surface. Pollution, drilling, irrigation, and overfishing are just a few of the challenges that Azerbaijan – and the countries that enjoy the resources of the Caspian Sea face. It’s important to protect these resources so we can enjoy their benefits for a long time to come!