Russia’s Lake Baikal is famous within its own country for a number of reasons and the fact that it is the deepest lake in the world makes it a surprising fact that very few people outside of Russia know much about it. It is shrouded in myth and legend and there are even rumours of a monster lurking within its waters.
Lake Baikal is located in Southern Siberia on the border between the Irkustk Oblast and the Buryat Republic. It is seen by many geographers as being the almost exact central point of the Asian continent.
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 for many reasons and its size and depth are almost impossible to comprehend.
The deepest of all
Lake Baikal is far and away the deepest lake in the world and in terms of pure measurement, it is 1,642 metres (5,387 feet) at its deepest point with an average depth of around 744 metres (2,442 feet).
It is also vast and although its surface area at 31,722 km2 (12,248 square miles) may not be as big as some of the Great Lakes in North America, its size and depth mean that it makes for 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve. That figure alone is staggering and is probably the one statistic that helps anyone to understand the incredible size of Lake Baikal as a whole.
Records keep tumbling
The incredible figures don’t stop with mere size and it is widely acknowledged that Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in existence with records suggesting that it is some 30 million years old.
It is also one of the clearest lakes in the world and that helps to spot some of the amazing species of fish that live here.
Teeming with life
Lake Baikal is home to an incredible abundance of life with many species of flora and fauna that co-exist here.
Known as the Galapagos of Russia, the lake is considered to be vital for students of evolutionary science and the sheer numbers involved are staggering once again.
In total, there are around 1,340 species of animal and 570 species of plant that are indigenous to the Lake Baikal and it is estimated that around two thirds of each of those figures relate to species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
A tourist attraction
Despite its lack of widespread acclaim, this is a beautiful area and the region around Lake Baikal is truly spectacular with forests and mountains on every side.
There are also some 1200 listed historical monuments in the Baikal region so if sightseeing combined with tranquillity is your thing, there are few better locations in the world.
So now that you know where Lake Baikal is and you’ve learnt a little more about it, why not come and explore this magnificent region and find out a little more about the work that goes on to protect the unique eco-system that exists in one of Russia’s finest natural attractions?