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The sights of Siberia
In the midst of a thinly populated wildness there is the foremost
natural wonder - Lake Baikal. It is 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. They can be found nowhere
else on Earth. It occupies the territory of 12000 m2 and 400 km long.
About 30 uninhabited isles are scattered throughout the lake. It’s the
largest reservoir of drinking water. 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 clean and clear.
Most of the coastline lies in an environmentally protected area. The
most numerous of the indigenous people are Buryats. They have been
living here for many centuries. A feeling of tranquility settles over
the coastal villages during long summer afternoons. A vehicle driving
along the village’s streets 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 tsar’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
rumor 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.