Russia China Iranian Plateau and the Middle East

Large areas of southern Russia and Central Asia are endorheically drained. Saline lake regions here include one associated with the Black Sea and another within the Aral-Caspian depression. The Aral-Caspian depression contains two of the largest saline lakes in the world, the Caspian Sea and the now severely depleted Aral Sea. Northeast is Lake Tengiz, a major habitat for the greater flamingo and located in the Baraba-Kulunda steppe region. Southeast of Lake Tengiz is the Balkhash region whose largest saline lake is Lake Balkhash. Further south in the Tien Shan Mountain area is another large saline lake, Issyk-kul, the 11th largest lake in the world (by volume) and amongst the most ancient (~25 million years).

In China, saline lakes account for 55% of the area of all lakes and include the largest Chinese lake,

Qinghai Hu, which is also the seventh largest saline lake worldwide. The five major saline lake regions in China include Inner Mongolia, the Qaidam basin, Quinghai Hu, the Tibetan plateau (which includes the highest salt lake known - Nan Tso located at 4718 masl) and the Tarim Basin. Lake Urmia, the sixth largest saline lake in the world, is located on the Iranian plateau and is an important flamingo habitat. In the Middle East, the largest and best known saline lake is the Dead Sea. Located at 400 m below sea level it is not only the lowest lake worldwide, but the lowest place on earth. Unfortunately, it is under threat due to reduced water inflow from the Jordan River as a result of diversion and reservoir construction. The surface area has been reduced by more than one third resulting in a drop of over 20 m since development of the region started early in the 20th century.

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