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 children. 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.