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close this bookCentral Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)
close this folderPart III: The Caspian Sea
close this folder8. Environmental policy-making for sustainable development of the Caspian Sea area
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentMorphometry and the principal hydrological features
View the documentThe water balance and water-level variations
View the documentThe economic impacts on the Caspian states of the water-level variations
View the documentOther development issues requiring international cooperation
View the documentConclusions
View the documentAcknowledgement
View the documentReferences


The Caspian Sea is exceptional by many standards. It is the largest lake in the world. Moreover it is a closed lake with very large variations in its water level because of natural oscillations of the components that make up the water balance. The variations in the water level have had a strong influence on most aspects of economic life. This has been particularly so during the past few decades.

The largest river of Europe, the Volga, plays the principal role in the hydrological regime of the Sea. In addition to water, it also brings, as do other rivers that flow into the Caspian, a considerable amount of pollutants, which influence the aquatic ecosystems including the unique population of the few species of sturgeon. The Sea and its shores are rich with mineral resources, including oil, but prospecting and extraction also require effective environmental management.

The objective of this paper is to analyse the interrelation of the natural and socio-economic issues for the sake of regional sustainable development in a very special region of the world.