Lake Baikal is located right in the heart of the Eurasian continent at the border of the Irkutsk Oblast and the Republic of Buryatia. More than 300 rivers flow into the Baikal, and the Selenga River carries the half of the total water amount. The lake is drained through a single outlet, the Angara River. There are 27 islands on the Baikal, Olkhon is the largest. The Baikal flora and fauna are highly diversified, which makes the lake unique among freshwater lakes. 2500 animal species (60% endemic) and 1000 plant species (10 % endemic) inhabit the lake.
The Baikal climate differs from that in Eastern Siberia because of its large water volume and surrounding mountains. Thus Irkutsk air temperature in December reaches 25-30 degrees below zero; Baikal air temperature, 15-20 degrees only. The Baikal can be called a sunny area. Annual sunshine here equals to 2,500 hours (Bolshoe Goloustnoe).
It is true that the lake has many unique features. It is about 25 million years old. Its flora and fauna are endemic. It has the greatest depth and volume of any fresh water lake in the world. Its maximum depth in the middle section is 1,637 m. This depth is compared to about 400 meters of Lake Superior and only 300 meters of Lake Michigan in North America.
Its total volume is 23,000 km3 which equals to 20% of the world’s surface water storages and 80% of the Russian resources. It has as much water as all five Great American Lakes put together. Scientists calculate that it would take about 400 years to empty the lake through one river (the Angara annually takes 60 cubic km), if we stopped refilling it with its inflows.
The Baikal has a surface area of 31,500 km2, which equals to the area of a European country such as Denmark.
The water is clear. So the metal disc can be seen at a depth of 40 m. This transparency is exceeded only by the Sargasso Sea, but the water there is salty where usual transparency is higher. Thus, we can assure you that Lake Baikal’s transparency is number one among fresh water lakes.
Its charm, size and depth, transparent water, fairytale beauty of its shores impress everyone who visit the lake. We have many songs about the lake. One of them is entitled ‘The Glorious Sea, Sacred Baikal’.