The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km2 (143,200 sq mi) (not including Garabogazköl Aylagy) and a volume of 78,200 km3 (18,800 cu mi). It is in an endorheic basin (it has no outflows) and is bounded to the northwest by Russia, to the west by Azerbaijan, to the south by Iran, to the southeast by Turkmenistan, and to the northeast by Kazakhstan. The ancient inhabitants of its coast perceived the Caspian Sea as an ocean, probably because of its saltiness and seeming boundlessness. It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third the salinity of most seawater. The Caspian Sea, like the Aral Sea and Black Sea, is a remnant of the ancient Paratethys Sea. It became landlocked about 5.5 million years ago due to tectonic uplift and a fall in sea level. During warm and dry climatic periods, the landlocked sea has all but dried up, depositing evaporitic sediments like halite that have become covered by wind-blown deposits and were sealed off as an evaporite sink when cool, wet climates refilled the basin. Due to the current inflow of fresh water, the Caspian Sea is a freshwater lake in its northern portions. It is more saline on the Iranian shore, where the catchment basin contributes little flow. Currently, the mean salinity of the Caspian is one third that of the Earth's oceans. The Garabogazköl embayment, which dried up when water flow from the main body of the Caspian was blocked in the 1980s but has since been restored, routinely exceeds oceanic salinity by a factor of 10. The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water in the world and accounts for 40 to 44% of the total lacustrine waters of the world. The coastlines of the Caspian are shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan. The Caspian is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Northern, Middle, and Southern Caspian. The Northern--Middle boundary is the Mangyshlak Threshold, which runs through Chechen Island and Cape Tiub-Karagan. The Middle--Southern boundary is the Apsheron Threshold, a sill of tectonic origin between the Eurasian continent and an oceanic remnant, that runs through Zhiloi Island and Cape Kuuli. The Garabogazköl bay is the saline eastern inlet of the Caspian, which is part of Turkmenistan and at times has been a lake in its own right due to the isthmus which cuts it off from the Caspian. Divisions between the three regions are dramatic. The Northern Caspian only includes the Caspian shelf, and is very shallow; it accounts for less than 1% of the total water volume with an average depth of only 5--6 metres (16--20 ft). The sea noticeably drops off towards the Middle Caspian, where the average depth is 190 metres (620 ft). The Southern Caspian is the deepest, with oceanic depths of over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). The Middle and Southern Caspian account for 33% and 66% of the total water volume, respectively. The northern portion of the Caspian Sea typically freezes in the winter, and in the coldest winters ice forms in the south as well. Over 130 rivers provide inflow to the Caspian, with the Volga River being the largest. A second affluent, the Ural River, flows in from the north, and the Kura River flows into the sea from the west. In the past, the Amu Darya (Oxus) of Central Asia in the east often changed course to empty into the Caspian through a now-desiccated riverbed called the Uzboy River, as did the Syr Darya farther north. The Caspian also has several small islands; they are primarily located in the North and have a collective land area of roughly 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi). Adjacent to the North Caspian is the Caspian Depression, a low-lying region 27 metres (89 ft) below sea level. The Central Asian steppes stretch across the northeast coast, while the Caucasus mountains hug the Western shore. The biomes to both the north and east are characterized by cold, continental deserts. Conversely, the climate to the southwest and south are generally warm with uneven elevation due to a mix of highlands and mountain ranges; the drastic changes in climate alongside the Caspian have led to a great deal of biodiversity in the region. The Caspian Sea has numerous islands throughout, all of them near the coasts. There are none in the deeper parts of the Sea. Ogurja Ada is the largest island. The island is 37 km (23 mi) long, with gazelles roaming freely on it. In the North Caspian, the majority of the islands are small and uninhabited, like the Tyuleniy Archipelago, an Important Bird Area (IBA), although some of them have human settlements.