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World's countries : Djibouti

Lake Assal
photograph by Daniel Dob

Lake Assal (Djibouti)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Assal_(Djibouti)

Lake Assal (Arabic: بحيرة عسلBuḥayrah ʿAsal, literally 'honey lake') is a crater lake in central-western Djibouti. It is located at the western end of Gulf of Tadjoura in the Tadjoura Region, touching Dikhil Region, at the top of the Great Rift Valley, some 120 km (75 mi) west of Djibouti city. Lake Assal is a saline lake which lies 155 m (509 ft) below sea level in the Afar Triangle, making it the lowest point on land in Africa and the third-lowest point on Earth after the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. No outflow occurs from the lake, and due to high evaporation, the salinity level of its waters is 10 times that of the sea, making it the most saline in the world after Don Juan Pond.[1][2][3][4][5] Lake Assal is the world's largest salt reserve, which is exploited under four concessions awarded in 2002 at the southeast end of the lake; the major share of production (nearly 80%) is held by Société d’Exploitation du Lac and Société d’Exploitation du Salt Investment S.A de Djibouti.[5]

The lake, considered a "national treasure", is a protected zone under the law No. 45/AN/04/5L of the National Environmental Action Plan, 2000. However, the law does not define the boundary limits of the lake. Since the exploitation of the salt from the lake was uncontrolled, the Plan has emphasized the need for managing the exploitation to avoid negative impact on the lake environment. The Government of Djibouti has initiated a proposal with UNESCO to declare the Lake Assal zone and the Ardoukoba volcano as a World Heritage Site.[5][6]

Lake Assal is located in the middle of Djibouti, in a closed depression at the northern end of the Great Rift Valley. Situated in the Danakil Desert, it is bounded by hills on the western region. The lake lies at an altitude of 155 m (509 ft) below sea level, making it the lowest point of Africa.[1] The lake is characterized by two parts. The dry part of the lake, resulting from evaporation of the lake waters, is a white plain dry lake bed on the west/northwest side, which is a large expanse of salt. The second part is the highly saline water body.[3][4] The watershed area of the lake is 900 km2 (350 sq mi).[5][6]