General Information About Siberia and Baikal

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East Siberia and Lake BaikalIrkutsk region have a unique number of tourist, healing and recreational resources and also possesses a rich mineral and row - material ground. The nature has variously given this region to the people having created here the biggest in the world art "Angara - Lena" (rivers) artesian basin of mineral waters (300 mineral water springs, 6 mud lakes). And there is the main gift - unique and the most ancient fresh water lake on planet - Baikal. Irkutsk region is located in the center of Eastern Siberia, - in the North - East of Central Asia. Territory covered: 768 th. sq. km. Climate: sharply continental Population: 2 735 thsnd. Nationalities: Russia, Ukraine, Belo Russian, Butyats, Mordovian, Tatar, Tshouvashian, Yakutian, Evenks, Tofalars, German, Polish, Jewish Religions: 90% - Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islamism, Judaism. Buddhism, Shamanism

IrkutskIrkutsk is the administrative and cultural center of Irkutsk region, located at the bank of Angara - river, 68 km from Baikal. Distance from the Moscow: 5 042 km. Population: 591 thsnd. Inhabitants. Irkutsk was founded in 1661, on the cross roads from the North to South. Nowadays,Irkutsk is one of the largest economical and scentidic ceneter of Eastern Siberia, and a very important transport "knot" on the Trans -Siberian Mainline. There is also the international airport in Irkutsk. 685 memorial objects of historical and cultural significance are concentrated in Irkutsk and it is listed as the historical city which has been keeping itys traditional plaining and building. Distance: from the airport to the center - 6,5 km., form the railway station - 2,5 km. Public transport: tram - cars, trolleybus, bus, taxi - van Cost of taxi for 1 km.: 10 rubles Rates: 1 USD =28 rubles Banks: all general credit cards are obtained: American Express, Master Card, Visa Card etc. Voltage: 220 V Restaurants: widely presented - Siberian,Russian, European, Italian ,shinese, Korean,Japanees cuisines.

Nationalities of PribaikaljeHistorically, the ethnic structure of Baikal region has been formed by mixing of the different nationalities and now includes over 100 ethnic groups. The majorities are Siberian Russian occupying the South - West and the North of Baikal and Buryats, loving at the Western and Eastern Baikal's shores.

SiberiansThe end of the 16th century was the time, when the Russian pioneers were streaming to Siberia. The legendary treasures of "Terra Incognita" - furs and black earth lands attracted the most desperate and courageous people. And the life of Siberians was extremely hard and full of danger, conditioned by severe climate and granol expanse to explore. That's why the main features of Siberian character became endurance, openness and hospitality.

Siberian CuisineTraditional Siberian cuisine is very various. Its specific dishes are based on the natural gifts of taiga and Baiakl. They are fish, game meat of domestic animals, berries and mushrooms. Also, in Siberia, it is very common to grow all kinds of vegetables in, so called "datchas" - small plots of land, with little houses and gardens on them. In Autumn, all these natural products are being preserved for the winter store: marinades, salted vegetables, jammed berries etc. It is hard to imagine Siberian table without traditional "piroges" (kind of variously stuffed donates), blennies (pancakes), pelmeni (dumplings) at huge menu of meat and fish dishes and diary products.

BuriatsAccording the modern scientific researches, some of Buryatian tribes had been formed between 2500 - 1300 b.c. The history of Buryats is closely linked with Chinggis Khan's envasion in XI XIII centuries and with Russian expansion in XVII century. The first Buryatian manuscript dated the fact that in 1648 Buryats aged to become citizens of Russia.At the present time; buryats is one of the biggest nations living at Baikal and eastern Siberia.

Buryatian CuisineBuryatian cuisine is quite simple and very nourishing. It basically includes all natural products of cattle farming meat and milk. Buryating pozy (meat vstuffed big dumplings) is the loveliest national dish. Milk products are also very important in traditional menu. Any holiday meal or meeting starts with milk or cream. Likely Russians meet the guests with bread and salt, buryats do it with milk and cream. The buryats tea is compulsory served with and milk. Seldom but it is still possible to find a weak-alcohol drink-tarasun, made of fermented milk and traditional porridge, made of sour-cream with salt and flower-salamat.

Open Air museum TaltsyTaltsy - is a wonderful storage of architectural, historical and cultural treasures of Siberian Past. It is situated at the 47 km. - point of the Baikal High way. This museum unites over 40 architectural objects and memorials with the exposition, presenting old lifestyle , which consists of over 8 000exponates, 13 architectural complexes and 36 original wooden houses were brought to this place by pieces from different areas of Irkutsk region to expose some authentic samples of Siberian wooden art. The most beautiful and rare of them are the "Tower od our Saviour" (built in 1667) and the Khazanskja Clock -

Church (built in 1669). They were restored and rebuilt of the traditional wood - laurch - tree. Both are over 300 years old.In Taltsy, there are arranged festivals and it has always popular for the local, as well as for tourists.

Lake BaikalLake Baikal is situated North - Eastwards from the center of Asia. Its length is 636 km, max width - 79,5 km and depth - 1637m. It is the dippiest and oldest fresh water lake on the planet. Its age is about 25 mln. years. Baikal is a mountains lake and its surface is 445 m. higher that the sea - level. Baikal reserves over 20% of the world's fresh water resource and its water - body size is equal to combined water volumes of all the Great American lakes. The river Angara is the only one river flowing out of Baikal, carries 2000 m3 of water per second. Just imagine if all the steams and rivers stopped supplying the Lake with water Baikal could still keep Angara - river 360 years! And it would take the hole planet's annual fresh water income to fill up the bed of the lake again. Baikal water is one of the most transparent and purest in the world. The white Sekki disk, used for defiming the transparency of water, is clearly visible in the depth of 40 m. And the glorious Apline lakes' water cannot compete with Baikal's one. The Lake has unique flora and fauna . It is inhabited with over that 1 500 species of animals and there are about 1 080 plants, known in Baikal. 84 % of the inhabitants are endemic. In 1996, UNESCO listed the Lake of Baikal as one of the most important objects of the worlds heritage. Compare to the other lakes of the Northen hemisphere Baikal has still exist under contitions which are very similar to pra - historical ones. Baikal is wonderful place that has its especial energy.

The settlement of ListvyankaIt is situated at the Western shore of lake Baikal, 68 km from Irkutsk (40 minutes by car), at the mouth of Angara - river. It is a relatively small settlement (1,5 thsnd inhab.), 5 km long. For a few last years, it has become more similar to sea - side area, and it is just the starting point of many tourist water routes around Baikal. As a rule, when coming to Listvyanka , the travelers and guests visit the Saint. Nicholas Church and Baikal Environmental Museum (Limnological Museum) which exposition was founded in 1928. This is one of the biggest museums, acquainting people with the history of the lake , its flora and fauna.

Small sea of BaikalThis apart of Baikal, separated by Olkhon - island from the main, bigger part of the Lake. It is one of the most shallow places in Baiakl, very warm in Summer and rich of fish. Its climate is very suitable foe active summer rest and holidays. Numerous picturesque days and islands, warm water and good

fishing make Small Sea the most attractive place for tourists, compare to another ones at Baikal It is available to travel along the coast of Small Sea by car, bicycle or by feet and horse.

Olkhon IslandOlkhon Island - is the heart of Baikal. Its geographical, historical and sacral center - the personage of ancient legends and historical tales. Olkhon is supposed to be a large religious center of Shamanism in Central Asia. It concentrates on its territory all the natural varieties Baikal landscapes. And it is a real reserve of wonderful views and breath-taking taking sceneries for wild life amateurs and photographers. Olkhon is full of archeological objects (143!) There are graves, ancient settlements, ruins of stonewalls. The museum of the local history has collected a very good exposition of the islanders. Here you can see the chest - signs of Chingghis Haan's warriors, discovered in the island and listen to the legends about their presence in Olkhon. The most famous object of Olkhon Island is Burkhan - Cape. This shaman's place is one the 9th sacred ones in Central Asia. Sacred rock, with the cave , going through it was accessible only for Shamans, because of its being revered as "house of Baikal spirit", which could be visited just for shaman's rituals. At the present time everyone is able to visit it but it's better not to forget that the ancient prohibition is still believed to be functioning drawings and Sanskrit writings kept.

Ushkaniy IslandsUshkaniy Islands - is one of the wonders of the lake. It is an archipelago consisting of 4 islands, located in the central section of Baikal. They always attract attention of the scientists who are trying to define their origins, and the tourists astonishing of the great number of ant - hills, very tallness, made of white marble pieces. But mainly they are famous for the largest lair of fresh water seal - Baikal unique "Nerpa". The scientist go on discussing the problem, were they