Baikal - download topographic map set
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Lake Baikal is located at an altitude of 455 metres in the south east of Siberia. It is 636 km long, and its maximum width in the centre is 81 km, while the minimum width facing the Selenge delta is 27 km and the length of the coastline is about 1,850 km. The surface of the water-table measured at a water edge of about 454 m above the sea level, is 31,470 sq km. The maximum depth of the lake is 1,637 m and its average depth is 730 m.
Mountains. Baikal is surrounded by mountains on all sides: by the Primorsky and Baikalsky ranges in the north and north-west and by the Barguzinsky range in the east of the northern part of the basin, by the Hamar-Daban range in the south, by the spurs of the Kichersky range in the north and by the Ulan-Burgasy behind the Selenga riverbed. The highest peaks of these mountain ranges are Tryokhgolovy Golets, 1728 m (the Primorsky range); Mount Chersky, 2,573 m (the Baikal range); the Barguzinsky range, 2,840 m; Mount Khan-Ula, 2,371 m (the Hamar-Daban range).
Rivers. 336 rivers and streams flow into Baikal, this number including only constant affluents. The largest of these are the Selenge, the Verkhnyaya Angara, the Barguzin, the Turka, the Snezhnaya and the Sarma. Only one river, the Angara, flows out of Baikal.
Islands. There are 22 islands in Baikal, of which the biggest is Olkhon. It is by right considered one of the most beautiful places at Baikal. The biggest peninsula is Svyatoi Nos.
Flora and Fauna. Baikal is known for its unique diversity of flora and fauna which include numerous species of plants, animals, birds and fish, of which two thirds are endemic (Baikal is their only habitat). There are a total of 2,565 registered animal species and subspecies and 1,000 water plant species, subspecies and forms found in Baikal.
Climate. The climate in Eastern Siberia is severely continental, but Baikal’s huge water content and the mountains surrounding create an unusual microclimate. The average annual temperature of the water on the surface of the lake is +4°C. Near the coastline, the temperature reaches +16-17°C in the summer and up to +22-23°C in shallow gulfs.
Tourism. The following kinds of tourism are popular in Baikal:
- Equestrian tourism along the Baikal shoreline;
- Hiking along the Krugobaikalskaya railroad, Great Baikal Path and paths on the slopes of neighbouring mountains;
- Touring by car around Baikal and visiting the Maloye Morye Straits, the Island of Olkhon, the Svyatoi Nos peninsula, Lake Kotokelskoye;
- Water cruising along Baikal.
Sightseeing. In and around Baikal, there are a lot of natural, cultural, historical and archaeological monuments, of which the most famous are:
- The Krugobaikalskaya railroad, an old railroad constructed in the 19th century;
- Peschanaya Bay, the cliff Shaman-Kamen;
- Cape Burkhan, a cape on the Island of Olkhon, which ends with the cliff Shaman-Skala;
- Cape Ryty, the outermost point and the northern extremity of the Baikal shoreline;
- The Olkhinsky Plateau, famous for its numerous rock pillars;
- The peak of Chersky, one of the most popular and accessible routes for climbers in the Baikal area.