Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest lake lying in a rift zone in south eastern Siberia, on the border between Russia and Mongolia. It’s extraordinary for its immense size (over 300 miles long and over a mile deep), being formed over 20 million years ago. As well as being the world’s deepest and most voluminous, the lake also acts as a major water resource containing around 20% of the world’s surface freshwater.
Lake Baikal is a biodiversity hotspot, with over 2,500 species of plant and animal life, and the majority of which are endemic (not found anywhere else in the world). Such high levels of endemicity have led to the lake being cited as the “most outstanding example of a freshwater ecosystem” and resulted in the site being designated a World Heritage Site in 1996.