Olkhon is the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world. It is by far the largest island in Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia, with an area of 730 km² (280 sq. miles). Olkhon has a dramatic combination of terrain and is rich in archeological landmarks.
Steep mountains line its eastern shore, and at 1,276 m above sea level, Mount Zhima is the tallest point on the island, peaking at 818 m above the water level of Lake Baikal. The island is large enough to have its own lakes, and features a combination of taiga, steppe and even a small desert. A deep strait separates the island from the land
HISTORY OF OLKHON IN BREAF
The highlight of Olkhon history:
2000 – 500 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST
The Khurikans had been living on the island before they mixed with another tripes, which formed the nation called the Booryats. The Khurikans built famous walls, partly destroyed during the Soviet time. The purpose of the wall are still not clear. The walls are located in the Southern part of the island.
The first time in the new history of Siberia, a group of Russian Cossacks reached lake Baikal, over the Sarma River. The Russians built boats, crossed the Small Sea, and came to Olkhon island to say “Hello”. They estimated 1000 Booryat inhabitants living on the island.
A fish factory was built in Khuzir, the main village of Olkhon, not far from the sacred Burkhan Stone. It employed more of men and supplied the community with electricity. A giant noisy diesel generator produced electricity for the entire island.
The fish was canned, smoked and salted row. People from Irkutsk could hardly find those products in the shops due to tricky logic of Soviet economy system.
In the Soviet Union era, the island once had a mini GULAG, where political prisoners utilised their skills at the remote branch of the fish factory. After the Steel Comrade (Stalin) death, all prisoners were released
Nikita Bencharov opened the first guesthouse in Khuzir. Ex table-tennis player,, he became the leader of tourism “industry” of Olkhon.
Russian economy kept going downhill. Hyperinflation, unemployment, low purchasing power of people, political instabily – all this factors made the society poor, angry and pessimistic. The fish factory could not sell as much as before, it it downsized. There was no Soviet government which provided the stated owned enterprise with free diesel fuel. Olkhon fish factory could not pay the diesel fuel for the generator anymore. The factory management decided to run the generator only during the business hours. High unemployment rate combined with high prices for copper and aluminium ruined the wiring system of the island. The electrical and telephone wires got cut, stolen and sold.
The island got hooked to the main power line by a 3 km long underwater cable. Finally, the people of Olkhon island could use fridges and irons. Also, the mobile network came to the island with cell phones and internet! Alleluia!