The largest lake in the world

The largest lake in the world

There are an insane number of lakes in the world. They are in every corner of the planet, even in Antarctica. Not everyone knows that they used to call the sea the largest and widest lake in the world. And not metaphorically at all.

What is the name of the largest lake

The list of the largest lakes is headed by the Caspian Sea. It is written in the BSE that the body of water is recognized as the largest lake in the world, but it is not entirely unambiguous.

The largest lake in the world

Sea or lake

  • The BSE could not accurately define the Caspian as a lake and referred it to seas because of:
  • the type of underlying processes;
  • large size;
  • percentage of salinity;
  • history of development (the type of crust under the Caspian is oceanic).

After all, even under the largest lakes (Victoria, Baikal, etc.) the earth’s crust is not oceanic, but tectonic type! It is incorrect to consider the Caspian Sea as a sea, since the body of water has no outlet to the ocean, which suggests that the Caspian Sea is a lake. Its water is not salty enough compared to other seas (comparative table below). Name/Percentage of salinity (based on water layers)

You can see that the salinity of the Caspian Sea only reaches similar values to those of the Baltic and Azov Seas in some areas, but it is usually much lower. Many centuries ago, the Caspian Sea had a direct connection to the ocean through the lowlands of the Precaucasus, which caused the presence of salt at the bottom of the reservoir, but today freshwater rivers are the main power of the lake. There are many salt domes and solonchaks around the Caspian Sea, but they cannot provide the necessary level of salinity. As for the size of the Caspian Sea, it largely depends on the Volga, although about 130 rivulets and rivers (Emba, Artek, Terek, Ural, Gorgan, Kura, etc.) flow into it. It is the Volga that is the main “water supplier” for the Caspian Sea, and this river is gradually becoming shallower. Perhaps, in many, many years the Caspian Sea will turn into the world’s smallest lake, as the inflowing rivers will dry up.

The Largest Lake in Figures and Facts

The world's biggest lake

The area of the largest lake on the planet is 371,000 square kilometers, the depth is 1,025 meters, the length is 1,200 kilometers, and the width is 435 kilometers. The shoreline has a length of just over 6.5 thousand km. From the satellite it resembles the letter “s”, but even with such an irregular shape it remains the widest lake in the world. The water body actually stretches over the territory of 5 states: Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. There are many cities on its shores: Derbent, Kaspiysk, Baku, Makhachkala, etc. The name of the largest lake in the world comes from the ancient times of the Caspians, who lived in the Caucasus. The lake also had other names because of other tribes:

  • Hirkan;
  • Khvalynskoe;
  • Khazar.

Caspian ecology: is it possible to swim in it

Bathing season in the Caspian Sea: from May to October. In the fall and spring the water is not very warm, its temperature is about 18 degrees, but in the summer months it is 25-28 degrees. But the very possibility of bathing is still questionable because of the closure of many local beaches by the sanitary services. Annual control measurements show heavy pollution of the water. Industrial wastes and oil are regularly discharged into the Caspian Sea.

Swimming season in the Caspian Sea

And scientists of the coastal states sound the alarm, because with each discharge there are fewer and fewer local sea inhabitants: seals and sturgeons.

Top 10 largest lakes in the world

In addition to the Caspian Sea, there are many large lakes, which, of course, in size cannot compare with the record holder, but are uniquely characterized by the processes occurring in them and the history of formation. List of the largest lakes in the world without the Caspian Sea on the basis of the area occupied:

  1. Upper
  2. Victoria
  3. Huron
  4. Michigan
  5. Tanganyika
  6. Baikal
  7. Big Bear
  8. Nyasa
  9. Great Slave
  10. Erie
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More about some of these largest freshwater lakes in the world.

Lake Superior is the leader after the Caspian

Lake Superior

Lake Superior in the United States is the largest freshwater lake in the world by land area (though not by freshwater volume). It is one of the Great Lakes and straddles the border between Canada and the States. The area of the water body is 82,400 square kilometers, which is 4.5 times less than the area of the Caspian Sea. The depth of the lake is 406 m, length – 560 km, and width – 260 km. The largest by area freshwater lake is not suitable for swimming even in the summer months: the highest water temperature reaches 12 degrees. The water level here depends on the time of year: it is minimum in April and March, and the biggest in the summer, because at that time it rains heavily. Lake Superior is known for its mini tsunami or seishi: high waves rise on the surface of the water, which forcefully crash down on the shore.

Victoria is the largest lake in Africa

Victoria Lake

The largest lake on the African continent is Lake Victoria, which belongs to Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Africans call this lake Nyanza or Ukerewe. Victoria is a high-altitude body of water, located above sea level at an altitude of 1,134 meters. Nyanza has an area of 68,800 square kilometers, a depth of 40 meters, and a length of 337 meters. The reservoir is dangerous to swim in: it is simply teeming with dangerous crocodiles. In addition to crocodiles, Victoria is also home to the protopteryx, a unique species representing a bridge between animals and fish. It can breathe with its lungs and gills. But Africans usually catch the usual tilapia, and tourists are trying to catch the Nile perch – a fish that can weigh 200 kg. It is noteworthy that it is completely legal. There are no restrictions neither on the weight of the fish, nor on the quantity, nor on the method of fishing (even with dynamite): there are no fines.

The largest freshwater lakes in the world: Guron and Michigan

The biggest freshwater lakes

Guron and Michigan are two more bodies of water from the Great Lakes system. America generally holds the record for the largest bodies of water, although it loses out in number: the largest number of lakes (although not the most significant) are to be found on the continent of Eurasia. Guron and Michigan are connected with each other by the Strait of Machino, which allows them to be considered a single system in terms of hydrography, although they are separated geographically. Guron is not much bigger: its area is 59.6 thousand square kilometers, while Michigan is 58 thousand square kilometers. But Michigan is longer: its length is 494 km compared to Guron’s 332 km.

Tanganyika is the longest among the freshwater lakes

Tanganyika is the longest lake among the largest freshwater lakes in the world. The Tanganyika is 676 km long. The water body is located in Central Africa on the territory of 4 countries at once: Congo, Zambia, Burundi, and Tanzania. Tanganyika is a very deep water body: its depth is 1,470 meters. Uniquely, this lake has never dried up, so it has preserved the unusual flora and fauna. More than 97% of all cichlids on the planet, several species of crabs, clams and shrimps are present here. This lake has fresh water, but its inhabitants are similar to those of the marine fauna.

Baikal is the largest lake in Siberia

Lake Baikal is the largest lake in Siberia

Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. Its actual explored depth is 1,637 m. That is why it is considered the largest freshwater reservoir, with a volume of more than 23 thousand cubic kilometers. In fact, this is more than all 5 Great Lakes in America. Due to low mineralization, the water in Baikal has properties similar to distilled water. The lake is surprisingly transparent. The lake has an area of 31,500 square kilometers, a length of 636 km and a width of 81 km. Many rivers and streams (Snezhnaya, Kichera, Selenga, etc.) flow into this lake, and only one river, the Angara, flows out. There are a lot of mysteries and legends connected with Baikal. For example, when the lake is covered with ice, huge dark rings form on its surface, which can be seen only from above. Scientists connect their appearance with methane emissions, though the chaotic formation of the rings is still unclear. Lake Baikal is a true place of power. This lake conceals many mysteries and secrets, which are difficult to explain based only on scientific data. The mysteries of Baikal include:

  • “White Rock” cliff – a mountain on the shore of the lake, in the depths of which according to legend the countless treasures are hidden (found only in legends, in reality has never been found);
  • “Black Funnel” – a place in the very center of Baikal, in its deepest part, where a couple of times a year water starts to rotate on its own, forming a real funnel;
  • mirages on the surface, caused by strong currents of warm air over the cold water;
  • a strong glow of the water;
  • Cape Ryty – a place in Baikal where the radiation background goes off the scale;
  • presence of insect larvae (mosquitoes) at the bottom of the lake.
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Local residents often saw UFOs over Baikal, though there’s no documentary evidence of that, of course.

What is the biggest subglacial lake in the world?

A subglacial lake is a body of water located under a glacier. It is always under the ice column and does not thaw even in summer. There are about 380 known subglacial lakes in Antarctica, which resemble lakes on some cosmic bodies (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.). One of the largest subglacial lakes in the world is Lake Vostok, covered with 4 kilometers of ice. This body of water got its name from the Vostok station, standing nearby. The estimated depth of the lake reaches 1,200 meters, but this is inaccurate. Its study continues. Moreover, traces of DNA of some organisms have already been found in this subglacial water, which is already fantastic in itself.

The largest lake in the world


The largest lakes and rivers are significant natural monuments of any state. They are astonishing in their volumes, but in reality you can feel their greatness only from a bird’s eye view. But even the largest freshwater lakes in the world can be a source of drinking water.

The largest lake in the world

Caspian Sea

Although called a sea, this body of water is considered the largest undrained lake on earth. On the other hand, the water body has a number of features characteristic of the sea (significant water mass, tides, storms). At the same time, the Caspian Sea has no natural connection with the World Ocean – it appeared artificially. In addition, the salinity of water in the Caspian Sea is 3 times lower than that of other seas, which is why the sea is called a lake.

The location of the lake is the border between Europe and Asia. The northern and middle parts belong to Russia, the eastern part to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the southern part to Iran, and the southwestern part to Azerbaijan.

The area of the Caspian Sea reaches 371,000 sq. km. The average depth of the Caspian Sea is 208 m, with the greatest depth being 1,025 m.

The shoreline stretches for about 6,700 km, the same figure together with the islands will be up to 7,000 km. The lake unites about 50 medium and large islands, their total area is 350 sq. km. The waters of this body of water account for 44% of the world’s lake waters.

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Top 10 largest lakes on the planet

About 450 species of phytoplankton, 400 species of invertebrates and 120 species of fish live in the Caspian waters. The only mammal that lives here is the Caspian seal.

The largest city on the Caspian coast is Baku.

90% of black caviar is produced in the Caspian Sea waters; U.S. scientists claim that a fifth of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves are concentrated in the Caspian Sea; the Volga River brings most of the water to the Caspian; the main environmental problem of the Caspian Sea is water pollution.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

This lake is the largest freshwater reservoir on Earth. It got its name because it is above all the lakes in the group of large lakes, at 183 meters above the sea. The lake is located on the border of Canada and America.

The area of the reservoir is 82100 square kilometers. 54,000 square kilometers belongs to the United States and 28,100 square kilometers to Canada.

The greatest recorded depth of the lake is relatively shallow at 406 m and the average depth is 147 m. In terms of fresh water volume, Lake Superior is second only to Lake Baikal and Tanganyika. This figure is 11,000 cubic kilometers. The shoreline stretches for 4,387 km.

The major islands within Lake Superior are the Madeleine and the Apostles Archipelago.

The lake is fed by about 200 small rivers, the main of which – Nipigon. Lake Superior serves as the source for the St. Marys River.

Numerous large cities are located near the reservoir.

In the waters of the lake are a variety of fish (sturgeon, sterlet, salmon, smelt). The shores are inhabited by rabbits, foxes, beavers and coyotes.

Interesting facts about the lake:

The lake is about 10 thousand years old. It is considered a relatively young body of water. One of the peculiarities of Lake Superior is its tendency to storms. During such periods, the height of waves can reach 10 meters. The most dangerous area of the lake for navigation is the coastal area near Isle-Roal. There are many underwater rocks and dangerous currents. The river flow into the lake is low, so the water in the lake is clear and cold at all times of the year. Despite low water temperatures and harsh winters, the center of the lake never freezes. This is due to severe fall and winter storms.



The body of water is located within three states (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania). It is the largest lake in Africa. The local population calls Lake Victoria by another name, Nyanza.

The area of the body of water is 68,000 sq. km. The shoreline of Lake Victoria stretches for 7000 km. The maximum depth is 80 m.

The main source of feeding of the lake are sediments, waters of tributaries also participate in its filling, but to a much lesser extent. The lake is considered fairly young, its age is estimated at about 400000 years. There are about 30 million people living in the waters of Lake Victoria.

Top 10 largest lakes on the planet

The lake was named by John Speke, an Englishman who discovered it in 1858. It was named after the Queen of England. In the waters of Lake Victoria there are about 200 species of fish. The most interesting specimens are the Nile perch, which can weigh up to 200 kg. Swimming in the reservoir is strictly prohibited: in the waters of Lake Victoria there are many crocodiles. In addition, the water is infected with schistosomiasis. It is in this lake that Africa’s most majestic river, the Nile, originates. The ecological situation in the waters of Lake Victoria is constantly deteriorating. This is influenced by such factors as deforestation, active fishing, drainage of technical and sewage water, growth of the evil weed water hyacinth. The lake region has seen a downward trend in precipitation in recent years. This threatens a catastrophic decline in freshwater supplies, endangering the lives of local people.

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The reservoir lies within the lands of two states, the United States and Canada, forming the border between them. The shores of the reservoir are shared by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Michigan.

The area of this freshwater body of water is 59596 sq. km. The greatest recorded depth of Lake Guron is 229 m, the average depth is no more than 59 m. The length of the shoreline is 6157 km.

There are about 30,000 small islands within Guron, most of them inhabited.

Interesting facts:

Guron is a drainage lake. It is the main source of water for the St. Clair River, which flows out of it. The body of water links 3 other lakes into a single water system: Lake Superior, Lake Erie, and Lake Michigan. The name “Guron” comes from the name of the tribes that have inhabited the shores of this lake since ancient times. Today there are about 4,000 Huron people living in Canada and the United States. They have lost their language, culture, and beliefs. Attractions of the lake: the port of Guron, the lighthouse of Fort Gratiot, and the Sous-Saint-Marie Canal.

Currently, the ecological system of Lake Guron is in severe condition due to the large number of industrial enterprises that discharge technical water into the reservoir. Lake trout have disappeared from the waters of the Guron because of these changes.



This body of water is located in the United States. Lake Michigan was created by the collision of tectonic plates as well as the melting of a glacier.

The area of the lake is 57750 square kilometers. The length of the shoreline exceeds 2,600 km. The maximum depth of Lake Michigan is 281 m, the average depth is 85 m.

Lake Michigan is 177 m above sea level.

Top 10 largest lakes on the planet

During 4 months, the body of water is completely frozen in ice.

Lake Michigan is connected to Lake Huron through the Strait of Mackinac, and to the Mississippi River system through the Chicago-Lockport Canal.

The states of Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois all have access to the lake.

In terms of hydrography, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron form a single system, although geographically they are considered separate lakes; interesting places for tourists within Lake Michigan: the Navigation Museum, Old Mission Lighthouse, National Park; in translation from the language of the Indian tribe the name of the lake sounds like “big water”; Lake Michigan has about 30 areas, which are suitable for recreation at the beach; the lake shores are inhabited by various animal species: wolf, red lynx, rabbits, lemmings. There is a legend among the local population about the so-called “Michigan Triangle”. This is a separate area of the lake, in the area of which sea and air vessels disappear without a trace. In 1950, an airliner disappeared here, although no traces of the wreck were found either at the bottom of the body of water or on its surface.

The entire area of Lake Michigan is protected by the environmental police.



The lake is located in Central Africa. It extends along its entire length over the territories of four countries: Congo, Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia.

The area of Tanganyika is 3,2893 square kilometers. The greatest depth of the lake is almost 1500 m. The shoreline of the reservoir is about 1,830 km.

Lake Tanganyika is fed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean through the Lukuga and Congo rivers.

Interesting facts:

the approximate age of the body of water is about 12 million years old; there are national parks – Mahale and Gombe – along the shores of Lake Tanganyika; there are about 11mn people living along the shores of Lake Tanganyika; crocodiles and hippos live in Tanganyika.



This water body is located in Russia, in the southern part of Eastern Siberia. It lies on the border of the Republic of Buryatia and Irkutsk Region.

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The area of the lake is 31700 sq. km. The shoreline is 2,000 km long. The average depth of Baikal is 744 m. The maximum depth is 1,640 m. This is the deepest lake in the world.

The shape of the reservoir resembles a large lunar crescent.

Top 10 largest lakes on the planet

The only river flowing out of Lake Baikal is the Angara. More than 300 rivers, both large and small, flow into the lake. There are 6 bays in the lake.

Baikal is considered the most ancient lake – scientists estimate its age at about 25-35 million years.

This body of water concentrates 22% of all the fresh water in the world. The volume of water in it is 23,000 cubic kilometers.

Interesting facts about Lake Baikal:

in ancient times the lake was called “Bei-hai”, which translates as “rich deer”; the water in the lake is transparent and so clear that it can be drunk without pre-treatment; sturgeon, which is up to 60 years old, are found in the lake waters; in the winter, cracks can appear on the frozen lake, which are up to 30 km long. Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake

The water body lies in the north-western part of Canada. It is located at a level of 156 m above the sea. Big Bear Lake is located in the Arctic Circle region. Its northern part belongs to the Arctic, and the southern part to the northern temperate belt.

Big Bear Lake is the largest inland lake in the country. Its area is 3,080 square kilometers. The average depth is 72 m, the maximum depth of the lake is 446 m.

There are only 2 settlements on Big Bear Lake – Deline and Echo Bay. This large body of water is surrounded on all sides by marshes, tundra, and permafrost. The reservoir is rich in fish, and commercial fishing is prohibited here.

In the 1930s, radium and uranium were found in the eastern part of Big Bear Lake, and a little later, silver.



Nyasa (the lake is also known as Malawi, a more modern name) is a body of water that lies within East Africa. The lake covers the territories of such states as Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique. Its elevation is 472 meters above sea level.

Nyasa is a deep recess in the earth’s crust filled with water.

The area of the lake is 30,000 square kilometers. The average depth of the lake is 292 m, the maximum depth is 706 m.

There is no oxygen at a depth of 220 m and therefore no living organisms.

This lake contains 7% of all the fresh water in the world. There are 14 rivers flowing into Nyasa reservoir, among them Ruhuru, South and North Rukuru, and Songwe. There are 2 other major reservoirs within the body of water, Lykoma and Chisumlu.

Big Slave Lake.

Big Slave Lake

The lake is located within North America, in Northwest Canada.

The area of the reservoir is 28930 square kilometers. The height above sea level is 156 m. The average depth of this lake is 41 m and the greatest depth is 614 m.

The lake has many large and small rivers, including the Hay, Tolson, and Yellowknife. The Canadian Mackenzie River flows out of the lake.

Interesting facts:

gold reserves were found within the lake in the 1930s; a rare population of American cranes was discovered near Slave Lake in the mid-twentieth century and is under close scrutiny by specialists; Native American tribes who live on the shores of the lake do not mine for gold and other resources, but do receive a percentage from such activities.

There are many lakes in the world that are large. The largest bodies of water have considerable length and depth and water reserves. They are home to numerous species of flora and fauna. Unfortunately, in recent years an unfavorable environmental situation has threatened the existence of the world’s large lakes.

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