Lake Baikal is an astounding 30 million years old, which makes
it the world's oldest lake. It was created by a rift valley, formed
when part of the Earth's crust pulled apart. It is also the deepest
lake in the world, averaging a depth of 2,442 feet (744 metres).
The massive size of the lake is difficult to comprehend; around 20%
of the world's surface freshwater can be found here. According to
ancient Chinese texts, people of the time believed it to be a part
of the North Sea. This is not that surprising, as the lake is an
incredible 395 miles (636 kilometres) long and 49 miles (79
Lake Baikal, along with its immediate vicinity, is home
to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals - and about
two-thirds of these species cannot be found anywhere else in the
world. Due to its immeasurable ecological importance, Lake Baikal
was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, ensuring both
the lake and its wildlife are protected for many years to come.