This project is dedicated to a place in southern Russia unfamiliar to a majority of Russians – the village of Nizhny (Lower) Baskunchak. Although the location may be unfamiliar, the product it supplies is not. Upwards of 80% of all commercial salt sold in Russia is mined in Nizhny Baskunchak.
The extraction of salt takes place on nearby Lake Baskunchak (a word translated from Turkic to mean “dog’s head”). The locals claim that the lake, like the village, sits on top of a huge underground salt mountain. Despite the fact that salt has been mined here since the 8th century, people have only “scratched the surface” of the salt available during all that time.
The salinity of the water in the lake constantly changes and sometimes can exceed the salinity of the famous Dead Sea. The population of the village is nearly equal in proportions of Russians to Kazakhs, most of whom work in the field of salt production. There are even entire “salt” dynasties that pass on experiences from generation to generation.
In the post-war years, German prisoners of war lived in Nizhny Baskunchak and took part in the process of mining salt. Some of them remain in the salty Baskunchak ground, they were laid to rest in a small memorial cemetery.
It is an amazing place where people of different nationalities, including Orthodox and Muslim cultures, live in peace and harmony, and where everything literally “breathes salt”.