7 Fascinating Facts About Siberia

via Getty Images /Anton Petrus

Located to the east of Russia's Ural mountains, Siberia is known for its harsh winters and vast landscape. In fact, if Siberia were its own country, it would be the largest country in the world by area. Discover Siberia with the following list of facts about this fascinating region.

01
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Most of Russia Is in Siberia

Getty Images / Stanislav Tiplyashin

At around 13 million square kilometers (5.1 million square miles), Siberia takes up three-quarters of all Russian territory and almost ten percent of Earth's land surface. However, when it comes to population density, Siberia is one of the least populated areas on Earth, with between 7 and 8 inhabitants per square mile.

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Summer Temperatures Can Reach 95°F (35°C)

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Siberia is associated with harshly cold temperatures, but the weather isn't cold year-round. During Siberian winters, the temperature can reach lows of –94°F (–70°C). However, summers are warm across Siberia, with some parts of Western Siberia reaching highs of 95°F (35°C). This weather is due to the continental climate of the area, characterized by cold winters and warm summers.

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Siberia Has Giant Snowflakes

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Large snowflakes are an ordinary occurrence in Siberia. In the Siberian city of Bratsk, snowflakes measuring 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) in diameter were recorded in 1971. Other parts of Siberia experience a type of snowfall called "diamond dust": snow made of very thin, needle-shaped icicles.

Some Siberians can estimate the temperature based on the squeaking sound made when snow is stepped on. The sound, which is caused by snow particles squashing together and breaking, is more audible in lower temperatures.

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Humans Have Lived in Siberia for 125,000 Years

A Nenets boy. The Nenets are an indigenous group native to Siberia.
A Nenets boy. The Nenets are an indigenous group native to Siberia.

Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Early humans lived in Siberia as far back as 125,000 years ago. In 2010, archaeologists discovered a human bone belonging to a hybrid of a Denisovan and Neanderthal in the Altai mountains of Siberia. Siberian lands have long been home to indigenous groups, including the Nivkhi, the Evenki, and the Buryat.

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Siberia Is Home to the Deepest Lake on Earth

Lake Baikal.

Chalermkiat Seedokmai / Getty Images

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It contains over 20% of the world's fresh surface water. It is also the deepest lake in the world, with a depth of 5,387 feet (1,642 meters).

Mountains completely surround the lake, and more than 330 rivers feed water into it. Due to its size, it is often referred to as the Baikal Sea.

The entire lake freezes over each winter, with ice as thick as 6.5 feet (2 meters) in some places. In the summer, storms form waves that can reach 14.8 feet (4.5 meters) high.

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Over 70% of Russian Oil And Gas Comes From Siberia

Getty Images / Oleg Nikishin / Stringer

The majority of Russian crude oil and natural gas comes from Western Siberia, where natural reserves spread over more than 2 million square kilometers. Russia is one of the world's largest natural gas exporters because of its Siberian territories.

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Siberia Is Home to The World's Longest Railway Line

The Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway. Katrin Sauerwein / EyeEm / Getty Images

The Trans-Siberian Railway Network, which connects Moscow and Vladivostok, is 5,771 miles (9,288.2 kilometers) in length. The journey lasts 6 nights and 7 days, with 10-20 minute stops at each station. The railway is famous for the breathtaking views along the route, which crosses eight time zones and includes Lake Baikal, birch and pine forests, and the Ural mountains.

The midpoint of the railway line is a station called Tayshet (Тайшет), a town of 33,000 people. Tayshet is historically significant for being the center of administration for two major Gulag labor camps (Ozerlag and Angarstroy), as well as the starting point for the Baikal-Amur Mainline, a railway that runs parallel to the Trans-Siberian line.