Lake Baikal

Quick Facts: Lake Baikal
Countries: Russia & Mongolia
Area: 31.722 km² (12.248 mi²)
Avg. Depth: 744.4 m (2.442 ft)
Max. Depth: 1642 m (5.387 ft)
Surface elevation: 455.5 m (1.494 ft)
Frozen Period: December-May

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in Asia and the deepest lake in the world. It is located in the Russian Federation near the border with Mongolia. The large volume of this sickle-shaped lake has a moderating influence on the climate of the adjoining land, cooling it in summer and warming it in winter. The lake is frozen from late December to early May. The fauna of the lake consists largely of endemic species, including the Baikal hair seal and the viviparous Baikal oilfish (Comephorus).

The lake is fed by many rivers and drained by one, the swift Angara, the site of a vast hydroelectric project.The construction of a pulp and paper mill on the southern shore was denounced by Soviet scientists and writers in the mid-1960s because of pollution of the lake by the mill’s waste products.

About 20 million years old, the lake is 395 miles (636 km) long and up to 49 miles (79 km) wide. Its greatest depth is 5,710 feet (1,740 meters). The lake level is 1,490 feet (450 meters) above sea level.

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