This huge lake in Siberia is a natural phenomenon, but is also of big cultural importance to the Russians.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Country: Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 754:
“Situated in south-east Siberia, the 3.15-million-ha Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. Known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia’, its age and isolation have produced one of the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science.”
The Baikal does not only have a significance as a natural site I see it. Its natural beauty also makes it important in defining Russia as a country and the Russian nationality, and as such the lake is of cultural siginificance as well.
I wrote this in 2011:
“We passed it in cloudy weather, a little sad because it’s a beautiful area. I and the Englishman were awake when we passed by the lake at night. At some places we came very close, no more than five metres from the shore. Fascinating to see a seagull actually, and some remains of ice from last winter.”