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Lake BaikalNatural wonders of the world. Russia Lake Baikal is the world's oldest lake, at 25 million years, and deepest, averaging 744.4 metres. Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world's unfrozen surface fresh water. At 1,642 metres, Lake Baikal is the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes in the world. Similar to Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 km2, less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria. 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 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is also home to Buryat tribes who reside on the eastern side of Lake Baikal, rearing goats, camels, cattle and sheep, where the regional average temperatures vary from a minimum of −19 °C in winter to maximum of 14 °C in summer. Lake Baikal is nicknamed "Older sister of Sister Lakes". The lake, called "the Pearl of Siberia", drew investors from the tourist industry as energy revenues sparked an economic boom. In 2007, the Russian government declared the Baikal region a special economic zone.Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) was constructed in 1966, directly on the shore line, bleaching paper with chlorine and discharging waste into Baikal. After decades of protest, the plant was closed in November 2008 due to unprofitability. In March 2009 the plant owner announced the paper mill would never reopen. However, on 4 January 2010 the production was resumed. On 13 January 2010 Vladimir Putin introduced changes in the legislation legalising the operation of the mill, which brought about a wave of protests of ecologists and local residents. This was based on Putin's visual verification from a mini-submarine "I could see with my own eyes — and scientists can confirm — Baikal is in good condition and there is practically no pollution" the end