Picture taken by: Ebrahim Norouzi
If we consider the waterfilled pits with no connection to free waters as lakes then Iran has numerous lakes. Especially in mountains and mountain foothills. Naturally, with the change of temperature and precipitation, the rate of water in these lakes changes. Depending on how the water is supplied, some of these lakes are salty some are not. The lakes are important destinations in tourism industry providing range of activities including swimming, jet skiing, fishing, and bird watching. The most important lakes of Iran are Caspian Sea in Mazandaran, Urmia Lake in Urmia, Salt Lake in Isfahan, and Zarivar Lake in Kurdistan.
The first and biggest of lakes of Iran is the Caspian Sea. It is also the biggest lake of the world. In fact, it is so big that Iranian call it Caspian Sea. The lake is around 1204km long and 254km wide with an area of around 436000 square kilometer. The average depth of Caspian Sea is 180km and it is around 28m lower than the free water. The water quality and combination differs from that of the free water. Caspian Sea has less Chlorosodium, but more Calcium ion and Sulfate. Therefore, the water compound is closer to that of fresh water.
Beautiful beaches and pleasant weather turned this lake to a popular tourist destination from the Safavid Era to the present. Around 50 years ago, a series of facilities and construction made the beaches of Caspian Sea even more popular. Weekends and all holidays, the roads leading to the northern green belt of Iran are filled with cars and travelers who escape from the metropolitans to the midst of Jungle and shores of sea.
Urmia Lake is the biggest and the saltiest permanent lake of Iran. Urmia is in the northwest of Iran, in the city of Urmia and 330 km. east of Ardebil. It has other names including Chichast and Kaboudan. Before the recent loss of water, it had an area of around 6000 square kilometer. The length of Urmia Lake was around 135 to 150km and its width around 15 to 50. Moreover, it had an average depth of 6m especially in the northwest.
The salt rate is not similar in every part of the lake. Some part of Urmia are more salty, some are less. This water compound attract many animal and plant life to the lake and its shore. That is why Urmia is the habitat of many migratory and non-migratory birds. Besides, it had turned the lake to an important destination for birdwatching. There are also 56 islands in the lake including but not limited to Kaboudan, Quyun Daqi, Ashk Daqi, Arezo and Doquzlar. The lake is also famous for the mud of its shores that are therapeutic.
The salt lake is near the city of Kashan in Isfahan province. From north, it reaches Varamin and from south and east to Qom. This lake is 80 kilometer long and 30 kilometer wide located in the estimated altitude of 800 meters from free waters. As the name signifies, the water is extremely salty because of layers of Miocene salt in its surrounding. In summers, because of high evaporation rate and reduce rainfall, the water thickens and pieces of salt floats on the water.
This magnificent lake is near Marivan in Kurdistan province. Zarivar is a mountainous fresh water lake at the altitude of 818m from free water level. This lake has an average width of 1.7 km and a length of around 5 kilometers. Moreover, at its deepest, it is around 50 meters deep. Zarivar completely freezes in winters. Then, the locals walk and slide over it. However, in spring and summer, when the sun shines and reflects on the lake, gold is everywhere. It is as if the whole lake is covered with gold. Here is where the name comes from. Zar in Farsi means gold and Zaribar is something filled with gold.