Lake Baikal is located in the center of Asia, in the latitude of Moscow and London. Its length is 636km, maximum width is 79,5km (between villages Ongyren and Ust-Bargusin). Minimum width – 25km –is in the delta of Selengariver. Shoreline is approximately 2,000km. Water surface area is 570,000 sq.km
Depth and surface area.
Baikal is the eight-largest lake in the world by surface area, which is equal to Belgium – 31500 sq.km.Baikal is the world's deepest lake. There are only 6 lakes In the world with the depth over 500m. Maximum depth is in the Southern part of Baikal - 1430m, 1580m - in the middle part, and in the Northern part – 920m. Thereare 22 islands, the area of thelargestone,Olkhonisland, is 700sq.km.
Baikal's age is estimated at 25 million years, making it the mostancient and deepest lake in geological history of Earth. But there are no signs of aging, immanent to other lakes, aged 10-15 thousand years old, which are being filled with precipitation, bogged down and disappear. Maximum depth of the lake, fixed by echo sounder, is 1637m. But,actually, Baikal is more deeper, because it is located in huge hollow, which adjoins to mantle of the earth's crust. Bowels of the earth under the lake are warmed up, so hot springs occur in the area of Baikal.
Baikal is a Mountain Lake, it is above sea level on 445m.The lake is completely surrounded by different heights and mountains with peaks. Northern and north-western coastsare rimmed by Primorsky and BaikalskyRidges.One of the greatest river in the world – Lena river- begins from the Eastern part of BaikalskyRidge. Its headwaters are located 9 km near the lake Baikal. The Barguzin Ridge is on the north-eastern coast, in the southern coast begins with Khamaar-Dabaan ridge. North-western coast is bordered with Kichera ridge, Selenga, the largest river inflowing to Baikal, is located along Ulaan-Burgasy ridge. The highest peaks of the ridges are: the Three-Headed Golets (1,728 m, Primorsky ridge), Cherskiy peak (2,573 m, Baikalsky ridge), Barguzin ridge (280 km length, 2,840 m high), Khaan-Ula (2,371 m, Khamaar-Dabaan).
The Baikal’s water.
Lake Baikal contains23000 cubic kmof fresh water, which consists 20% of the world's fresh surface water and more than 80% of Russia surface waters. The hollow of the lake contains amount of water equal to the Baltic Sea, or all watersof the North America Great Lakes combined. It is common that the lake is fled by 336inflowing rivers,but, according to another version, approximately 1000 rivers fall into Baikal. The only river flowing from Baikal is Angara. If the inflowing rivers disappear, Angara will devastate Baikal within 360 years. The whole world’s annual runoff is enough to fill Baikal again. Baikal’s water is unique by its characteristic features.
Flora and fauna.
Flora and fauna of Baikal are unique and consist of various types of animals, birds, fishes, 2/3 of which are endemics. There are 2,565 species and subspecies of animals and 1,000 aquatic plants in the lake. Also we can find a lot of species of aquatic and bottom microorganisms, and hundreds of scantily explored viruses and phages. Biodiversity of Baikal has no rivals among the oldest and the greatest lakes of the world. Scientists annually describe more than 20 species of invertebrates, and, as prognoses say, there are more than 1,500 unknown species in Baikal. The apex of environmental pyramid of the lake is Nerpa – an endemic Baikal seal.
Baikal is a part of World Heritage register of UNESCO. Taking into account Russian legal limitations for Baikal region development, one of the most important spheres of economy is an ecology-safe tourism development. Baikal and Trans-Baikalia territories are trending to be one of the largest tourist regions of Eastern Siberia, attractive for visitors from Russia and abroad. Tourist flow grows annually, and the most popular season for visits is summer, but the winter season also has a great potential. Baikal is covered with ice, having a lot of unique hues,in winter. Baikal nature, together with history of local peoples dwelling at the shores of the lake, is considered to be an object of colossal tourist resource.
Tourism since the very moment of its inventing is strongly connected with the idea of Nature preservation, and Baikal tourism has its own ecological traditions, carefully kept until now.