In the midth of a thinly populated wildness lies the foremost natural
wonder - lake Baikal. It’s the oldest lake in the world - its age is
about 25-30 million years. Scientists estimated that more than 1500 life
forms live in and around this lake, which can be found nowhere else on
Earth. It’s the world's largest reservoir of drinking water. It occupies
the territory of 12000 m2 and 400 km long. It contains 1/6 of fresh
water found on the planet and in spite of the vast pollution by the
nearby industry the most of it still remains unspoilt. About 30
uninhabited isles are scattered throughout the lake.
Most of the coastline lies in an environmentally protected area.
The most numerous of the indigenous people are Buryats. They has been
living here from untold centuries, even before Yanguis Khan swept
through during the early XIII century.
A feeling of tranquillity settles over the coastal village in long
summer afternoons. A vehicle driving along the village’s mainstreet is a
rare sight. A motorcycle with a sidecar is the most popular civil
transport; and a passenger car still remains an object of curiosity for
The area’s largest city is Ulan-Ude which was first established by the
Russians as an outpost for tzar’s tax collectors during Russia’s
Eastward expansion in the XVI and XVII centuries. It lies in the border
area between the Siberian forests and the grassy steppes.
It’s an average Siberian town without much distinction, except for a
strange fancy relict in the main square. The world’s biggest head of
Vladimir Lenin has more than 25 feet tall and it is ironically said by
rumour that it was inspired by the head of Buddha that was located in
Ulan-Ude before the Soviet takeover. And now although most of Soviet
monuments have been dismantled this one is going to stay because the
locals became quite fond of it.