Lake Baikal

One of the top tourist destinations in the world and the pride of Siberia, Lake Baikal is considered the world’s deepest and oldest lake. With a massive size of about 3.15-million ha, the lake is also the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and seventh-largest in the world by surface area and that contains about 22% to 23% of the world’s entire unfrozen surface freshwater reserve. A site of awe-inspiring scenery and also a place that is revered for its exceptional variety of freshwater flora and fauna that is one of the world’s richest, the lake is also sometimes called the ‘Galapagos of Russia’. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, here are some very cool and amazing facts about Lake Baikal, that are simply stunning to know about. 

Whether you were searching for it on the internet or just have arrived here to check out our blog, you are sure to spend some good time reading these lesser-known facts about the great Lake Baikal. Grab a cup of coffee or some snacks to munch on and get to know something about this gorgeous water body that is so immense in size and hosts breathtaking natural beauty and biodiversity. 

Amazing Lake Baikal Facts That You Need To Know:

How Did Lake Baikal Get Its Name:

The name ‘Baikal’ comes from ‘Baigal’ which is basically a translated form of a Mongolian word as ‘nature’.

Its Location:

The lake is located in Southern Siberia between the Buryat Republic on the southeast and Irkutsk Oblast on the northwest.

The lake is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. 

Largest Freshwater Lake:

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world in terms of volume. It has a water volume of 23,600 km3 (5,700 cubic mi).

It Is As Big As Belgium:

The lake is 397 miles long and 50 miles wide and it has a surface area of 31,722 km2. It covers an area that is equal to the total area of the country of Belgium.

Deepest Lake Too:

It is also the deepest lake in the world at 1,642 m.

Lake Baikal Is Nicknamed as ‘Pearl of Siberia’.

It Is Also The Most Ancient Lake:

Originated about 25 to 30 million years ago, Lake Baikal happens to be the most ancient lake in the geological timeline. 

Baikal holds about 22% to 23% of the world’s entire unfrozen surface fresh water reserve. 

It Is Also The Clearest Freshwater Lake In The World. 

The Lake Is Widening Every Year:

Lake Baikal is one of the most incredible natural features on our planet. And what is most fascinating to know about this lake is that it is widening by about 0.79 inches or 2 centimeters every year.

It Is Transparent:

Being the clearest freshwater lake in the world, the water of Lake Baikal is also the most transparent. In some areas, it is so transparent that, you can even see the bottom of the lake up to a depth of almost 130 ft.

The Lake’s Ecosystem Has A High Degree Of Endemism:

As we stated earlier, Lake Baikal is home to a wide variety of floral and faunal diversity. And its ecosystem is characterized by a higher degree of endemism. Among its 2500 or more than that animal species, 80 percent are endemics. 

Baikal’s Only Endemic Mammal:

The only endemic mammal in Lake Baikal is the Nerpa Seal which is also known as Baikal Seal. It is a cute species of earless seal that is one of the smallest true seals.

Baikal Oilfish:

Golomyanka which is also known as Baikal oilfish is one of the most unique fish species found in the lake.

Besides, there are more than 320 bird species too in the Baikal area. And moreover, the exceptional flora and fauna found in this lake region has extraordinary value to ecolutionary science. 


The water of this vast lake has created a mild microclimate around its shores. 

How Long Is Its Coastline:

The meandering coastline of the lake runs for about 2100 kilometers which is around 1300 miles. 

The water of Baikal Lake gets completely renewed every 383 years approximately. 

Tributaries Of Baikal:

More than 330 rivers and streams flow into the lake, the chief being the Selenga. 

Its Outflow:

The only outlet for Lake Baikal is the river Angara. 

Islands Of Baikal:

The largest lake in the world is not only a mere lake. It also houses many plains, mountains, and also many islands. According to known sources, there are about 40 rocky islands in Lake Baikal. And the Olkhon Island is the largest among them. This island also happens to be the third-largest island in the entire world.

Legal Ice Road:

One of the most fascinating facts to know about the lake is that the ice road to Olkhon Island (the largest in the lake) is considered the only legal ice road on the lake. 

Trans-Siberian Railway:

The rail route of the Trans-Siberian Railway around the southern side of the lake required 33 tunnels and 200 bridges. Fascinating, right?

It Hosts Gas Hydrates:

The largest and deepest lake in the world never fails to fascinate us. It is intriguing to know that, Lake Baikal is the only confined freshwater lake that hosts solid-phase methane (methane gas hydrates). The formation of gas hydrates is such an unusual event for freshwater lakes!

Mud Volcanoes:

There are gas or mud volcanoes at the bottom of the lake which appear as dark circles on the frozen ice surface of the lake on the photographs taken from space. 

Mass Fish Mortality:

Industrial pollution is causing mass mortality of fishes in Lake Baikal. But many scientists differ with that and claim that natural gas emission is the primary cause of the mass mortalities of fish population in the lake. 

Lake Baikal Is Expanding To End Up As An Ocean:

Many scientists have hypothesized that this lake is gradually emerging to be an ocean. Slowly but steadily, the lake’s boundaries are expanding and in the future, the lake can even end up being an ocean. 

The Lake Forms Strong Storms:

Another unique characteristic of this unique lake is that, though a lake, it experiences some strong storms and that give rise to waves that rise as high as 4 to 5 meters. 

It Has Thick Ice Sheets:

Photo credit: Alexey Trofimov

One can simply walk on the ice sheets. The lake freezes in the winter and grows ice that can be up to 6 feet in thickness. Some say that the ice gets so thick that massive trucks can also be driven over the sheets. 


Now, what’s that? Lake Baikal, apart from the thick ice sheets, forms a special kind of ice that looks like ‘a needle’. These needle-like ice formations are known as ‘whispers’ and reach heights up to 1 to 2 centimeters.

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