Lake Baikal is the world's oldest lake of tectonic origin and is believed to be between 25 and 50 MILLION years old. The lake is more than a mile deep, and scientists estimate that its sediment extends four more miles beneath the
lake floor. Lake Baikal is also the largest lake with 20% of the world's fresh water supply.
The 400-mile long lake contains more water than is in all the Great Lakes combined. 335 rivers feed into the Lake and one drains out of it, the river Angara..
Three main tributaries – the Selenga, the Verkhnaya Angara and the Barguzin — carry three quarters of the annual run-off (58.8 cu. km. of water), the missing quarter is supplied by other small rivers.
Lake Baikal is cherished as the "Jewel of Siberia" because of its beauty and clarity. Baikal is more like an inland sea than a lake due to its complex system of self-purification and hot water vents that nurture life in the deep.
70% of species found in Baikal region are endemics (can be found nowhere else in the world). The lake is rich in commercial and really delicious fish omul – trout of Siberia –grayling, sig, and sturgeon.
Baikal Region has been inhabited and considered sacred by many different non-Slavic cultures for centuries. Olkhon Island is thought to be the birthplace of Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan. In 1996, UNESCO named Lake Baikal a "World
Heritage Site”, placing 3.15 hectares under International protection.
Lake Baikal supports more than 2,500 species - including 960 kinds of animals and 400 plants found only here. Among them is nerpa – a freshwater seal that migrated from the Arctic a million years ago. The region is protected by
national parks and reserves. Barguzin Nature Reserve is one of the oldest in Russia. Originally created for the protection of sable, it subsequently took on the protection of flora, fauna, trees and grasses in general. Its
area is over 260,000 hectares.