The largest freshwater lake of Eurasia, with a width up to 50 miles (80 km) and a length of about 395 miles (640 km). Its maximum depth is 5,714 ft (1,742 m), making Baikal the world's deepest lake.
There are numerous feeder streams, but the only outlet is the Angara River, whose great volume is harnessed by several hydroelectric stations.
Lake Baikal is navigable and is used to float timber. Surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, it is rich in fish and other aquatic life, including such unusual species as the world's only freshwater seal.
Although it is known for its crystal-clear waters, the lake is in danger of pollution because of industrial development in Siberia. Recent antipollution efforts by the Russian government, however, have reduced the flow of effluent into the lake.
The Trans-Siberian Railway skirts the lake's southern shores.