Landforms and Bodies of Water

Lake Sev

Lake Sev (Armenian: Սև լիճ, romanized: Sev lich; Azerbaijani: Qaragöl; both meaning “black lake”) is a lake situated on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The majority of the lake lies within the Syunik Province of Armenia, while a smaller portion is located in the Lachin District of Azerbaijan.


Lake Sev is positioned to the east of the Mets Ishkhanasar mountain, sitting at an altitude of 2,666 metres (8,747 feet) above sea level. The lake spans an area of roughly 2 square kilometres (0.77 square miles), with dimensions measuring 1.6 kilometres (0.99 miles) in length and 1.2 kilometres (0.75 miles) in width. Its maximum depth is recorded at 7.5 metres (25 feet). The waters of Lake Sev are characterized by their cold and clear quality, providing a habitat for the Ishkhan salmonid fish species. The lake plays a crucial role in local agriculture, as its waters are utilized for irrigation. Adjacent to Lake Sev is a smaller lake known as Janlich or Jinli.

Lake Sev Nature Reserve

The Lake Sev and its surrounding areas are protected under the Lake Sev Nature Reserve, established in 2001 on the grounds of a pre-existing protected area from 1987. Located in the Syunik Province on the eastern slope of Mets Ishkhanasar, the nature reserve covers an area of 240 hectares. Its primary objective is to conserve the unique ecosystem of Lake Sev.

2021 Armenia–Azerbaijan Border Crisis

In May 2021, Lake Sev found itself at the centre of a border dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani troops advanced around 3.5 kilometres into Armenian territory near the lake, taking control of the nearby height of Mets Ishkhanasar. The international border between the two countries has never been formally delineated, but Soviet-era maps predominantly show the majority of Lake Sev within Armenian territory. According to a 1975 map of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces (numbered J-38-21 and scaled 1:100 000), the lake’s eastern, western, and southern shores are located within the Armenian SSR, leaving only a tiny section of the northern shore (approximately 10% of the lake) within the Azerbaijani SSR. The same map also indicates that the smaller adjacent Lake Janlich (Jinli) is entirely within Armenian territory.

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