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Lake Profile

Urmia (Oroomiyeh, Orumieh)

General Information

Description Lake Urmia is a vast, beautiful, hypersaline lake. Local people believe that the lakeside mud has special medicinal properties. Designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the lake is currently threatened by dam construction and exploitation of the rivers draining into it. In 2010, Mher News Agency reported Hassan Abbasnejad as saying, "Given the current trend of environmental crisis, Orumieh Lake will be completely dried within three years."
Country Iran
Latitude 37° 40' 0" (37.6667)
Longitude 45° 30' 0" (45.5000)

Physical Characteristics

Description Lake Urmia receives water from the surrounding mountains, and has no outlet.
Volume 45.00 km3
Surface Area 5,960.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 5.0 m
Maximum depth: 16.0 m
Origin Tectonic
Type Saline


Economic Value Construction on a bridge across the lake was started in the 1970's, but was abandoned after the Islamic Revolution. One third of the bridge is still missing.
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description Construction of dams and exploitation of rivers draining into the lake have caused the lake to shrink by 60%, resulting in a rise in salinity and a decline in its oxygen content. In 2010, the lake's maximum depth was reported to be two meters.
Other Issues Biodiversity Conservation
Lake Levels (water quantity)
Watershed habitat alteration

Biodiversity Conservation

Description This saltwater lake in northwestern Iran is home to various migratory birds, including flamingos, pelicans, spoonbills, ibises, storks, avocets, stilts and gulls.
Designations Biosphere Reserve
LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
National Designation
Ramsar Site
Ramsar Site Name Urmia Lake
Ramsar Designations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Species of Concern The Ocellated mountain viper (Vipera wagneri) lives only near Lake Uromiyeh and is on the verge of imminent extinction.



Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna): Species Profile
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Urmia
ILEC Database
Important Bird Areas (Uromiyeh Lake)
Lake Oromeeh Biosphere Reserve
Urmia Ramsar Fact Sheet


11/2/2010 - Orumieh Lake facing crisis
11/24/2002 - International aid for Orumiyeh Lake
10/20/2002 - Yellow deer in Orumiyeh Lake
9/23/2002 - Concern over Orumiyeh lake
6/9/2002 - Flamingos return to Orumiyeh Lake

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
Herdendorf, C. 1982. Large lakes of the world. Journal of Great Lakes Research 8:379-412.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The List of Wetlands of International Importance.

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