Occupying Northern Asia and stretching for an area of more than 5 million square miles, Siberia Russia is among the least discovered corners of planet Earth, boasting gorgeous nature and unique towns. Besides its vast size, those who travel Siberia are always impressed with its endless hiking opportunities and dozens of landmarks that are worthy to discover. We have put together some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Siberia.
How big is Siberia?
To get a better understanding of how large Siberia really is and to picture the grandeur of the area, imagine that its size exceeds that of entire Brazil put together with Mexico!
The region makes up the Asian part of Russia and occupies more than ¾ of its land.
Interestingly, approximately 36 million people live in this Russian region, resulting in a population density of only 7 people per square mile (to compare, in the USA it’s about 92).
And it’s actually no surprise when you take into mind the average weather conditions in Siberia
which traditionally has super cold winters and short summers, especially in towns towards the north.
A total of 130 cities are part of the Siberian Federal District, dotted from the Ural Mountains in the west and the Arctic Ocean in the north to China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the east.
Apart from the Far East and Kamchatka, among the most widely known cities are Vladivostok that stands literally closer to the borders of the United States than to Russia’s capital, Moscow. Irkutsk is another recognizable town renown for its proximity to Lake Baikal. And last but not least, Ekaterinburg is also worthy of mentioning as this town is closely connected to the last living days of the Russian imperial family as well as marks the location where Asia and Europe meet.
What is more, Siberia has 13 large rivers, a plethora of lakes, and one of the vastest forest areas in the world called the Siberian taiga.
What to expect when going to Lake Baikal?
Undoubtedly, the crown gem of Siberia is Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world. It encompasses ⅕ of Earth’s supplies of fresh water which is more than all American Great Lakes.
Formed nearly 25 million years ago, it is the oldest lake in the world as well.
Moreover, Baikal is home to over 3 thousand unique species of plants, fish, and animals such as “nerpa” freshwater seals and omul fish which can be found nowhere else on our planet.
Because the area is a protected nature reserve, those who think of going to Baikal must be aware that there aren't too many fancy places to stay there. Baikal and its surroundings aren't too wealthy in posh resorts and that's its charm - people travel there to unite with nature that's practically unspoiled by humans. Some of Lake Baikal islands are considered sacred by local people, such as Olkhon Island. Here Buryats follow many of their centuries-old traditions up until today.
Perhaps the clarity of Lake Baikal is the largest “wow fact” about it, as the visibility through water is immense, you can actually see down as deep as 130 feet weather provided!
On top of that, when the lake freezes in the winter time, it forms an ice layer that’s about 5 feet thick, it is blue and crystal clear, so you can basically see the underwater life through it as if it’s glass.
And you’ll never guess what else Baikal’s ice is used as - a road!
Shockingly, cars and jeeps are often driven right atop the lake surface in the chilly winter when temperatures are very low and thus it’s safe to do that.
The Trans-Siberian Railway : to go or not to go?
Finalizing the top list of facts about Siberia, it’s impossible not to mention the longest railroad in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs from Moscow to Vladivostok.
The length of the road is almost 5800 miles and it takes a total of 7+ days to pass the distance.
Trains also differ from simple regular ones to luxurious options. In any case, if you go from start to finish, you pass 7 time zones and 87 towns.
More and more travelers choose to set off on the rail adventure across Russia.
And the smartest way to travel the Trans-Siberian is to split the whole journey to smaller chunks by making stops in towns along the way and spending 1 to 3 days discovering each of them.
As such, those planning to depart on Trans-Siberian tours from Moscow can schedule a couple of days en route for sightseeing in Kazan, Ekaterinburg, and Irkutsk, besides time spent in Moscow and Vladivostok.
Such a trip will, therefore, take from 10 to 20 days, depending on your preferences.
Furthermore, to make the experience even more memorable, the trip can be extended to Mongolia, China or even Finland and the Baltic Capitals - it all goes down to your wishes and imagination.
Hundreds of globetrotters put the world’s biggest country on their wishlist and aim to see not only the European part of Russia but also the incredible wonders of Siberia. A stop at Lake Baikal is certainly a highlight of Russia travel, is Siberia on your bucket list too?