The largest freshwater lake in Russia

Russia’s 10 largest lakes

If Finland is called the “country of thousands of lakes”, Russia can be called the “country of millions of lakes”. After all, there are more than 2 million lakes in our country, from tiny ones to ones that are comparable in size to a small sea.

There is a lot of water in this rating, because we are going to tell you about the largest lake in Russia and also about its “little brothers” from the first ten largest lakes of Russia.

10. White lake, area – 1 290 km²

White Lake

There are many white lakes in Russia, but the largest lake is located in Vologda region, near Cherepovets. The lake got its name because of the fine white clay which during bad weather gets mixed with the lake water and gives it a white color.

Intensive navigation also does not contribute to water transparency and causes severe pollution of the White Lake with oil products. The shores of the lake are densely populated, which only increases the amount of waste and runoff entering the water. Because of this, fish often die en masse in White Lake.

9. Chany – 1,708-2,269 km²


One of the largest lakes in Russia is located between Omsk and Novosibirsk. If you think that the name is consonant with the word “vat”, then it is so. In translation from Turkic Chan means a vessel of large size. The area of the lake is not constant and is still unknown exactly.

According to local legends, near Lake Chana there is an entrance to Shambala, a mystical land of spiritual harmony and enlightenment. But local fishermen do not need to search for Shambhala to achieve harmony, because they still have rich (though depleting from year to year) fish stocks of the lake, including roach, perch, bream, pike, ide, silver carp, carp and pikeperch.

8. Ubsu-Nur – 3,350 km²


The largest lake in Mongolia part of the northern shore and water area touches the territory of the Republic of Tuva, so it can be considered as the brainchild of two countries.

The water of Ubsu-Nur tastes bitter-salty and reminds of the sea water and approximately corresponds to the salinity of the Black Sea water.

Once upon a time the Hunnu, Mongol and Yenisei Kyrgyz tribes roamed along the lake shores. They left behind runic inscriptions, kurgans and petroglyphs. Nowadays, the coast of Ubsu-Nur is practically not inhabited, which has spared the local ecosystem from human impact. The only fish species in Ubsu-Nur of commercial value is the Altai sturgeon.

7. Lake Chudsko-Pskov – 3,555 km²

Lake Peipsi

A picturesque place, perfect for a vacation away from the noisy metropolis. It is on the border between Estonia and the Pskov and Leningrad regions. And part of the name Chudsko-Pskovskoye just came from the ethnonym “Chud”, which in Russia was used to refer to the ancient Estonians (because of their “strange” language).

Due to the beauty of the lake on its shores have grown numerous recreation centers with enticing names: “Tridevyatoe Tsarstvo”, “Teremok”, “Lukomorye” and “Chudskoe Podvorye”. The Estonian side does not lag behind the Russian one, and has built recreational facilities on its side with names not so sweet to the Russian ear: “Kauksi,” “Uuskula,” and “Suvi.”

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6. Khanka – 4 070 km²


One of the largest lakes in Russia and the largest freshwater body of the Far East generously shares its riches with both the Russian and Chinese sides. Lake Khanka is very rich in fish, and back in the Middle Ages, Chinese emperors enjoyed fish caught in its waters.

It was in the vicinity of this lake that Akira Kurosawa shot his famous film “Dersu Uzala”. Indirectly Hanka is also present in the anime series “Steel Alarm”, where the state of the same name, located within the boundaries of the real lake, appears.

5. Taimyr – 4 560 km²


The most northern lake in the world is located in the permafrost zone. Not surprisingly, most of the year it is covered with ice.

But the harsh conditions are not an obstacle for a variety of lake inhabitants, such as omul, burbot, grayling, char, muksun and whitefish. Red-breasted goose, geese, ducks, peregrine falcons, and other migratory birds nest on Taimyr islands.

This region is also famous for the largest population of reindeer in Russia. Besides them on Taimyr you can meet wolves, Arctic foxes and even musk oxen, which were introduced to the region in the 70s of the last century.

4. Lake Onega – 9,720 km²

Lake Onega

One of the biggest freshwater reservoirs of Europe absorbs more than 1000 water streams, but only one – the river Svir can get out. And there are even more islands on Lake Onega than waterways – 1,650.

The most famous among them is the island of Kizhi, which gathered the best examples of Russian wooden architecture. These constructions date from different centuries (the oldest one is from the XIV century), and they were transported to the island for preservation and accessibility to the public.

3. Lake Ladoga – 17 870 km²

Lake Ladoga

This Karelian beauty is a diligent hostess. Like its sister, Lake Onega, it collects many rivers and streams (more than 40 of them flow into the lake), but releases from its embrace only one river – the Neva. And in the delta of the Neva is “northern Venice” – the majestic St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), which is the second largest and most populous city in Russia.

During World War II, the famous Road of Life, the only transport artery that connected Leningrad, besieged by the Germans and the Finns, with the rest of the country, ran along Lake Ladoga. In order to deliver supplies to the city, trucks traveled along the frozen lake in winter, and during the navigation periods the transportation of goods was carried out on the water. During the time of existence of the Road of Life (from September 12, 1941 to March 1943) 1 million 615 thousand tons were transported and 1 million 376 thousand people were evacuated along it.

2) Baikal – 31 722


One of the biggest lakes in the world yet holds the title of the cleanest lake in Russia. At first you might be shocked to find your boat floating in the air when you swim out to the depths. And if you visit Baikal in winter, you’ll be greeted by the most transparent ice, which is up to 50 centimeters thick.

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The territory of Baikal can host several European states such as Malta (316 km²), Montenegro (13 812 km²) and Albania (28 748 km²).

1. Caspian Sea – 371,000 km²

The Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world.

The list of the largest lakes in Russia is crowned by the largest closed reservoir on Earth. The ancient Romans called it a sea because of the brackish water. In fact, the salinity of Caspian water is 1.2%, which is about 1/3 of the salinity of most sea waters.

The word “Caspian” appeared in the name in honor of the Caspian tribes, who lived on the southwestern coast of the sea in the first millennium B.C. However, different peoples gave the Caspian its own name, and there were as many as 70 of them.

Caspian Sea

Like the Aral Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea is a relic of the ancient Sarmatian Sea, on whose shores elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and mastodons once roamed. It lost its access to the sea about 5.5 million years ago due to tectonic uplift and drop in sea level.

There are about 850 species of animals, more than 500 species of plants and 115 species of fish in the Caspian Sea. Some of the most valuable commercial fish species found in the Caspian Sea are sturgeon, Caspian bream, and Caspian salmon.

Several animal species are named after the region, such as the Caspian gull, Caspian tern, and Caspian seal, which are endemic to the lake.

List, names, descriptions, maps and photos of Russia’s largest lakes

There are more than two million freshwater and saltwater lakes in Russia. The largest lakes in the European part of the country include Ladoga Lake (17,87 thousand km²) and Onega Lake (9.72 thousand km²) in the northwest, Lake Chudsko-Pskov (3.55 thousand km²) on the Estonian border, and Rybinsk Reservoir (4.58 thousand km²) on the Volga north of Moscow.

Narrow lakes, from 160 to 320 km in length, are located behind dams on the Don, Volga and Kama. In Siberia similar artificial lakes are located on the upper Yenisei and its tributary the Angara, where the Bratsk Reservoir 570 km long is one of the largest in the world. But they are all insignificant compared to Lake Baikal, the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet. At 636 km long and with an average width of 50 km, Baikal has a surface area of 31,72 thousand km² and a maximum depth of 1,642 m.

There are countless other smaller lakes, located mostly in the poorly drained lowlands of the Russian and West Siberian plains, especially in the more northern regions. Some of them reach considerable size, in particular, Lake Beloe (1.29 thousand km²), Topozero (0.98 thousand km²), Vygozero (0.56 thousand km²) and Lake Ilmen (0.98 thousand km²) in the European Northwest, and Lake Chany (1.4-2 thousand km²) in Southwest Siberia.

List of the largest lakes in Russia

We present to your attention 10 largest lakes of Russia with descriptions, photos and geographical location on the map of the country.

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Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water (area: 371,000 sq. km). It is called a sea, not a lake, because ancient Romans who came to the region discovered that its water was salty and called it sea after the Caspian tribes who lived near the coast of the lake. The Caspian Sea is bordered by the following five countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran. The main river that feeds the lake is the Volga, which provides about 80% of the Caspian Sea water inflow, with the other 20% coming from other smaller rivers.

The Caspian Sea is rich in oil and natural gas, but production of these natural resources is under development. The production process is also hampered by the problem of dividing the natural wealth of the lake among the five countries bordering it. The Caspian Sea and the deltas of the rivers that flow into it are home to about 160 species and subspecies of fish from 60 genera. About 62% of the species are endemic.


Baikal is the deepest (1,642 m), oldest (25-35 million years) and most voluminous (23,600 km³) of all lakes in the world; it is a superstar body of water in terms of hydrology, geology, ecology and history. Today, Lake Baikal contains about 20 percent of fresh water on the surface of the Earth, which is comparable in volume to the entire Amazon basin. Baikal has 27 islands, including one over 70 kilometers long (Olkhon Island).

The shores of the lake are home to more than 1,500 species of animals, 80% of which are found nowhere else on the planet. The most famous representative of the Baikal fauna is the seal, which lives only in fresh water. According to some reports, the number of seals is about 100,000 individuals. Also near the lake are large predators such as brown bears and wolves, which occupy the top positions in the Siberian food chain, eating deer, birds, rodents and smaller predators.

Lake Ladoga

Lake Ladoga is the largest freshwater lake in Europe located in northwestern Russia, 40 km east of St. Petersburg. The area of the lake is 17.87 thousand km², its volume is 838 km³, and its maximum depth is 230 m at a point to the west of the Valaam island.

The depression of the lake appeared under the influence of glaciers. The northern shores are mostly high and rocky, and are separated by deep, ice-covered bays. The southern shores have many sandy or rocky beaches, mostly low, slightly concave, overgrown with willow and alder. In some places there are ancient coastal embankments covered with pine trees. The largest tributaries are the Volkhov, Svir and Vuoksa rivers.

In the lake found 48 different species of fish, of which the most common are considered roach, carp, bream, pikeperch, perch and smelt. Of the 48 species, 25 are commercially important and 11 are in the category of important commercial fish.

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Lake Ladoga also serves as a key stopover point for migratory birds of the North Atlantic Flyway, which tend to mark the arrival of spring.

Lake Onega

Lake Onega is Europe’s second largest lake and is located in northwestern European Russia, between Lake Ladoga and the White Sea. It covers an area of 9.72 thousand km² and is 248 km long and up to 83 km wide. The greatest depth is about 127 m.

The lake basin was formed by the movement of the earth’s crust and glaciers. The high rocky shores in the north and northwest consist of layered granite and are covered with forest. There are deep bays at Petrozavodsk, Kondopoga, and Pevenets. The southern shores are narrow, sandy, often swampy or waterlogged. Lake Onega has about 1,650 islands, covering a total of about 260 km², usually in the northern and northwestern bays.

The lake is home to more than 40 fish species, including vendace (a small member of the salmon family), smelt, burbot bream, pike, perch, roach and salmon. Many fish species have significant economic value.


Taimyr is the second (after Lake Baikal) largest lake in the Asian part of Russia, located in the central regions of the Taimyr Peninsula. It is located south of the Byrrang Mountains in the permafrost zone.

The lake and tundra area is a popular destination for birds such as geese, swans, ducks, boreal buzzard, peregrine falcon, and snowy owls. Lake Taimyr is home to a large number of fish, including grayling, muksun, char and whitefish. Although the area is relatively remote, there is still a depletion of stocks of certain commercial fish species.

The Taimyr is famous for the largest population of reindeer in Eurasia. Such animals as argali, arctic fox, wolf, and lemmings are also found in the region. In 1975, the area was reintroduced to the musk oxen.

The lake and its surroundings have been included in the Taimyr Nature Reserve since 1983. Scientists have discovered plutonium in the lake’s sediments, which presumably got into the Taimyr through wind-borne radioactive particles after nuclear tests conducted on Novaya Zemlya during the Cold War.


Lake Khanka has an area of 4,000 km², of which approximately 97% is in Russia. The maximum depth of the lake is 10.6 m and the average volume is 18.3 km². The lake is fed by 23 rivers, 8 of which are in China and the rest in Russia. The only outflow is the Sungacha River, which flows east to the Ussuri River, which forms an international border, and rushes north, where it flows into the Amur River.

Khanka is renowned as home to the highest bird diversity in all of Eurasia’s temperate zone. No less than 327 species of nesting, wintering and migrating birds have been spotted around the lake.

Lake Peipsi

Lake Peipsi is the largest transboundary lake and the fifth largest lake in Europe (after Lake Ladoga, Lake Onega, Swedish Venus and Finnish Saimaa), located on the border between Estonia and Russia. It occupies 3.6% of the total area of the Baltic Sea basin. A total of 30 islands are located on Lake Peipsi, and another 40 in the delta of the Velikaya River. Most of them rise only 1-2 m above water level and often suffer from flooding.

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About 54 species of coastal aquatic plants, grow in the basin of Lake Peipsi, including reeds, gizzard, reed, and various grasses. In the waters of the lake are 42 species of fish, such as snapper, vendace, bream, perch, pike, roach and whitefish. The wetlands serve as important nesting and feeding grounds for migrating birds such as swans, geese and ducks that migrate from the White Sea to the Baltic Sea. The region is home to one of the largest colonies of swallows in Estonia.


Ubsu-Nur is the largest lake in Mongolia by surface area (3.35 thousand km²) and also the largest salt lake in the country. The Ubsu-Nur basin is one of the most important biodiversity poles in Eurasia. Although most of the lake is in Mongolia, its northeastern shores are in the Tyva Republic of the Russian Federation.

The lake is shallow, very saline, and is the remnant of a large sea that existed several thousand years ago. The basin covers about 70,000 km² and is one of the best preserved natural steppe landscapes on the continent. It is here that the northernmost part of the desert and the southernmost part of the tundra meet.

Reeded and freshwater river deltas serve as resting and nesting places for numerous migratory birds. More than 220 species of birds can be found around the lake, including the black stork, osprey, white-tailed eagle, klikun, and lake gull. About 29 different species of fish live in the lake’s waters, one of which is suitable for human consumption. The mountain area is home to Mongolian gerbil, snow leopard, wild sheep, and Siberian ibex.

Although Lake Chany is not well known outside of Siberia, it is one of the largest lakes in the country. Chany is a shallow lake with salty and constantly fluctuating water, the level of which may vary from season to season and from year to year. The lands of the lake basin serve as pastures for cattle.

The vats play an important role in the region’s fisheries. The most common species are bighead carp, carp, ide, and perch. Recently, there has been a trend of depletion of the lake’s fish stocks.

Lake Beloe

By area, Lake Beloe is the second (after Onega) natural lake of the Vologda region, and the third (after the Rybinsk Reservoir). It is among the ten largest natural lakes in Europe. The lake has a relatively round shape with the diameter of 46 km. It has an area of 1.29 thousand km² and a basin area of about 14 thousand km².

The lake is famous for its fish stocks, the most famous delicacy is the belozersky snapper. The feeding base and high oxygen levels create favorable living conditions for many species. The following fish species are common in the waters of the lake: perch, pike, bream, ruff, roach, roach, bleak, burbot, chub, redfin, whitefish, ide, tench, asp, spruce and gudgeon.)

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