Main Content

The Kara-Bogaz-Gol (KBG) is a large, shallow lagoon of the Caspian Sea. It normally covers about 18,000 square kilometers and is just a few meters deep. The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world, often categorized as a large salt lake. It is salty because rivers (especially the Volga) flow into it, but none flow out. Water leaves only through evaporation, and the dissolved salts remain.

The Caspian is below sea level, and the KBG is 2–3 meters lower, so water flows from the Caspian through a narrow strait into the KBG, where it evaporates. The KBG is far saltier than the Caspian, and is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Its salinity is 300–350 parts per thousand, while the Caspian’s is about 13 parts per thousand. (The ocean’s salinity averages about 35 parts per thousand.) Since the KBG’s water flows in from the Caspian, the Caspian’s fluctuations affect the KBG.


Every picture has a story to tell
Dec. 4, 1972, Landsat 1 (path/row 177/31) — Kara-Bogaz-Gol
Sept. 25, 1987, Landsat 5 (path/row 164/31,32) — Kara-Bogaz-Gol
Aug. 31, 2013, Landsat 8 (path/row 164/31,32) — Kara-Bogaz-Gol
Aug. 29, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 164/31,32) — Kara-Bogaz-Gol


Additional story information
Trading Card


Aladin, N., and Plotnikov, I., 2004, The Caspian Sea: Lake Basin Management Initiative, available online at (Accessed February 12, 2014.)

Bond, A., 1991, Caspian Sea level rising, flooding along lower Volga: Soviet Geography, v. 32, no. 7, p. 516.

Leont'yev, O.K., 1988, Problems of the level of the Caspian and the stability of its shoreline: Soviet Geography, v. 29, no. 6, p. 608–616.

National Ocean Service, [n.d.], Why is the ocean salty? National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, accessed April 20, 2018, at

Pearce, F., 1995, How the Soviet seas were lost: New Scientist, v. 148, no. 2003, p. 38–42.

Rich, V., 1992, Demolition of a disastrous dam: New Scientist, v. 134, no. 1816, p. 8.

Rodionov, S.N., 1990, A climatological analysis of the unusual recent rise in the level of the Caspian Sea: Soviet Geography, v. 31, no. 4, p. 265–275.

Shabad, T., 1980, Caspian Sea "leak" is stopped: Soviet Geography, v. 21, no. 5, p. 322–323.

Shabad, T., 1985, Aqueduct completed to feed Caspian water into dried-up Kara-Bogaz-Gol: Soviet Geography, v. 26, no. 1, p. 59–61.

Soviet Geography, 1973, Kara-Bogaz-Gol sodium sulfate plant opens: Soviet Geography, v. 14, no. 4, p. 276.

UNEP, 2005, Water—KBG, Turkmenistan, in One planet, many people—atlas of our changing environment: Nairobi, Kenya, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), p. 121–123.

Other Stories

Related imagery and additional content