Baikal (Russ. Svyatoe More, holy sea), a lake in the S. W. part of eastern Siberia, on the boundary of the government of Irkutsk and of ' the new province of Transbaikalia, between lat. 51° and 56° N. and lon. 103° and 110° E. Its length from S. S. W. to X. X. E. is about 875 m., and its breadth from 20 to 70 m„ mak- , ing it, next to the Caspian and Aral, the largest: inland body of water in Asia. The greatest depth, according to soundings taken in 1872, is over 600 fathoms at the extreme S. \V. part of the lake. It is surrounded by desolate shores and by rugged though picturesque mountains, densely covered with forests, from whence issue innumerable streams. The Upper Angara river flows into the lake at its N. end, and the Lower Angara issues from it near the S. end, being its only outlet. The Selenga, flowing into it on the S. E., is its largest tributary. The greatest island of the lake, Olkhon, is separated by a narrow strait from the W, coast, The principal fisheries are in the Angara river, to which many kinds of salmon are carried through the Yenisei from the Arctic, especially the omul (salmo autumnalis or migratorius). Baikal is one of the very few lakes winch contain fresh-water seals. Sturgeons abound in the Selenga river.

They are captured in large numbers, and their skins exported to China. The golomynka (ealyonimus Baioalen- it), a fish 4 to 6 inches long and singularly fat, is never taken alive, but cast dead upon the beach in great quantities, especially after storms. Its oil is sold to the Chinese. The annual value of the fisheries is estimated at 200,000 rubles. The number of sailing vessels is about 50, and there are several steamers; and the activity in the mines of Transbaikalia, and the trade with the Amoor Country and China, are fast increasing. From November to May the lake is traversed on the ice. The shores of the lake and of the Angara and Selenga rivers are chiefly settled by Russians. There are various tribes which have been incorporated since 1856 under the name of the Baikal Cossacks. The Tunka Alps border the S. shore of the lake, and one of their summits, the snow-clad Khar-ma Davan, is 6,000 ft. high. The Baikalian mountains proper stretch N. E. from the Lower Angara, and are remarkable for their fantastic peaks, numerous rivulets, volcanic formations, thermal springs, and wealth in gold and silver and various gems.

Earthquakes are frequent, and were especially violent in 1861-2.