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the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world
Located in southern Siberia, near the border with Mongolia, Lake Baikal stretches 396 miles northeast-to-southwest and is 49 miles across at its widest point, for a total surface area of 12,162 square miles. It has an average depth of 2,442 feet, and maximum depth of 5,712 feet. The lake lies in a rift that began forming about 20-25 million years ago.
Fed by over 300 rivers and streams, Lake Baikal holds 20 percent of the world's total supply of fresh water. The largest "feeder" is the Selenga River, which enters the lake near its southern end. The only outlet is the Angara River, which flows northward to the Yenisey River. The water in Lake Baikal is so clear that it is not unusual to have visibility down to a depth of over 130 feet.
There are 27 islands scattered throughout the lake, with the largest being Olkhon (270 square miles) and Great Ushkany (3.6 square miles).
Lake Baikal, along with its islands and shoreline, is home to about 1,340 species of animals, 745 of which are found nowhere else in the world, and 570 types of plants, 150 of which are unique to the region. The most notable animals are the Baikal seal, the only freshwater seal in the world, and its favorite food the golomyanka, a pink, scaleless, partly transparent fish.
This page was last updated on 03/02/2017.