Over the past decade the Caspian Sea region has risen from relative obscurity to considerable prominence in global affairs. Located at the crossroads of traditional trade routes between Europe and Asia and possessing vast natural resources, oil and natural gas among them, it attracts widespread international interest. The emergence of new sovereign states in the region has fundamentally transformed its political landscape. The future of the Caspian region is far from certain, however, as it is challenged by a wide variety of political, socio-economic and military threats which include the declining living standards of vast segments of local populations, inter-ethnic and inter-confessional tensions and conflicts, militant separatism, international terrorism, and illegal trade in arms and drugs. The security of the region is also affected by the intensifying strategic competition among major outside powers over establishing their political and economic influence in regional affairs. The book offers a competent analysis of the major political, economic and security developments in the region by a diverse group of highly qualified experts from the Caspian littoral states, the USA and the European Union.