Lake Baikal is known as the Blue Eye of Siberia, located in southern Siberia between Irkutsk Region to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast. The lake contains more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined. The meaning is the rich lake in Buryat language. With 1,637 meters Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world. As more than 25 million years old it is the oldest lake in the world. The lake is completely surrounded by mountains. The Baikal Mountains on the north shore and the taiga are technically protected as a national park. The lake has 22 islands, the largest Olkhon is 72 kilometers long and is the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world.
The scenic railway loop encircling Lake Baikal contains 200 bridges and 33 tunnels. It has the name of Circumbaikal Railway being the part of Trans-Siberian Railway. The lake, called the Pearl of Siberia, drew investors from the tourist industry as energy revenues sparked an economic boom. There is the popular resort of Listvyanka. Baikal was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.