30 Interesting Facts About Lake Baikal


Lake Baikal is a remarkable natural wonder located in southern Siberia, Russia. Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake, with a maximum depth of approximately 1,642 meters (5,387 feet) and an estimated age of 25 to 30 million years.

The lake contains an outstanding variety of endemic flora and fauna, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science, with many species found nowhere else on Earth. It’s surrounded by a system of protected areas that have high scenic and other natural values.

Lake Baikal is a continental rift lake with primary inflows coming from the Selenga, Barguzin and Upper Angara Rivers. It is surrounded by scenic mountain ranges and the Angara River is its only outflow. The lake contains a fifth of the entire planet’s freshwater supply.

Baikal’s waters are renowned for their clarity, allowing visibility of up to 40 meters in certain areas. It harbours a rich biodiversity, with over 1,700 species of plants and animals identified, of which more than two-thirds are endemic to the region.

The lake’s cultural and historical significance is also notable. Indigenous communities, such as the Buryat people, have inhabited the region for centuries, with their traditions and lifestyle intricately connected to the lake. In addition, Lake Baikal has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, emphasizing its exceptional value to humanity and the need for its protection.

Lake Baikal in the summer
Lake Baikal in the summer

Facts About Lake Baikal

  1. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world with a maximum depth of 1,632m.
  2. The first European to reach the lake is said to have been Kurbat Ivanov in 1643.
  3. Lake Baikal is the world’s largest volume of freshwater 23,000 cubic km.
  4. In March of 2010, Jim Denevan and his crew created a large-scale artwork on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, known as The Spiral of circles.
  5. There are 27 islands in Lake Baikal.
  6. Baikal Lake’s coastline measures around 1300 miles.
  7. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
  8. Lake Baikal is home to some of the most unique species of animals and plants, half of the species found on the lake are unique to it.
  9. One-fifth of all fresh body of water is located in this beautiful Lake.
  10. Water in Lake Baikal is completely renewed approximately every 383 years.
  11. The region to the east of Lake Baikal is referred to as Transbaikalia, and the loosely defined region around it is sometimes known as Baikalia.
  12. The lake, nicknamed “the Pearl of Siberia”, drew investors from the tourist industry as energy revenues sparked an economic boom.
  13. Lake Baikal experiences around 2000 earthquakes per year.
  14. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake on earth. Its depth is 1,642 meters.
  15. The water level in Lake Baikal is 456 meters above sea level.
  16. The water of Lake Baikal is the most transparent of all freshwater lakes.
  17. In winter the ice of Lake Baikal develops cracks, which can reach up to 30 kilometres in length and up to 3 meters in width.
  18. Lake Baikal faces a series of detrimental phenomena including the disappearance of the omul fish, the rapid growth of putrid algae and the death of endemic species of sponges across its area.
  19. The ice road to Olkhon Island is the only legal ice road on Lake Baikal.
  20. In July 2008, Russia sent two small submersibles, Mir-1 and Mir-2, to descend 1,592 m (5,223 ft) to the bottom of Lake Baikal to conduct geological and biological tests on its unique ecosystem.
  21. Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world.
  22. It is home to approximately 1,700 to 1,800 endemic plant and animal species.
  23. Russian expansion into the Buryat area around Lake Baikal in 1628–58 was part of the Russian conquest of Siberia.
  24. The Trans-Siberian Railway was built between 1896 and 1902. Construction of the scenic railway around the southwestern end of Lake Baikal required 200 bridges and 33 tunnels.
  25. There are 236 species of birds that inhabit Lake Baikal.
  26. A special 1999 law in Russia spells out protection measures for Lake Baikal.
  27. Baikal’s age is estimated at 25–30 million years, making it the most ancient lake in geological history.
  28. Lake Baikal is the only confined freshwater lake in which direct and indirect evidence of gas hydrates exists.
  29. The Russian government is putting 26 billion rubles into a clean-up program to fund treatment facilities.
  30. the lake is located in the southern part of eastern Siberia within the Republic of Buryatia and Irkutsk oblast of Russia.
Map of Lake Baikal Geographical Information
Map of Lake Baikal Geographical Information

Lake Baikal Information

LocationSouthern Siberia, Russia
TypeRift Lake
Maximum DepthApproximately 1,642 meters (5,387 feet)
AgeEstimated 25 to 30 million years
Size– Surface area: 31,722 square kilometers (12,248 square miles)
– Surface area: 31,722 square kilometres (12,248 square miles)
Biodiversity– Over 1,700 identified species of plants and animals
– More than two-thirds are endemic to the region
Endemic Species– Baikal seal (the only exclusively freshwater seal)
– Omul fish (a popular local delicacy)
UNESCO World Heritage Site DesignationSince 1996
Threats– Pollution from industrial activities and inadequate waste management
– Climate change (rising temperatures, altered ice cover patterns)
Conservation Efforts– NGOs, scientists, and local communities engaged in conservation initiatives
– Promotion of sustainable tourism
– Awareness campaigns about the lake’s ecological importance
Lake Baikal Underwater
Lake Baikal Underwater

Lake Baikal Facts for Kids

  • Size and Depth: Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. It has a maximum depth of approximately 1,642 meters (5,387 feet) and is about 636 kilometers (395 miles) long.
  • Biodiversity: The lake is home to a rich diversity of plant and animal species. It is estimated that about 80% of the 1,700 species found in Lake Baikal are unique and not found anywhere else in the world.
  • Baikal Seal: Lake Baikal is the only place where you can find the Baikal seal. It is the only exclusively freshwater seal species on the planet.
  • Clarity of Water: The water in Lake Baikal is incredibly clear, allowing visibility of up to 40 meters (130 feet) in some areas. It is known for its remarkable transparency.
  • Frozen Beauty: During the winter, the lake freezes, creating a stunning sight. The frozen surface of Lake Baikal becomes a vast icy landscape with unique ice formations, making it a popular destination for winter tourism.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Lake Baikal has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996. This designation highlights its outstanding universal value and the need to protect its natural and cultural importance.

What is special about Lake Baikal?

Lake Baikal is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in the world, with an estimated age of 25 to 30 million years. Its formation dates back to the geological processes of continental rifting.

The lake’s ecosystem is incredibly diverse and unique. It harbours a wide range of plant and animal species, including endemic species found nowhere else in the world. This biodiversity is one of the main reasons why Lake Baikal is considered special.

Lake Baikal contains an enormous volume of freshwater, approximately 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater. It is a vital resource for the region and plays a significant role in maintaining the Earth’s water cycle.

Lake Baikal holds cultural and historical importance for the indigenous communities, such as the Buryat people, who have inhabited the area for centuries. Their traditions, customs, and lifestyle are closely tied to the lake and its surroundings.

Lake Baikal faces environmental challenges, including pollution and climate change. Pollution from industrial activities and inadequate waste management poses a threat to its delicate ecosystem. Climate change impacts, such as rising temperatures and altered ice cover patterns, also require attention for the lake’s long-term preservation.

In summary, Lake Baikal is special due to its remarkable depth, age, biodiversity, and cultural significance. Its pristine waters, unique species, and exceptional natural features make it a globally significant and treasured natural wonder.

Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
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