Largest Lakes in the World. Top 10

  • 11 January 2020
The largest lakes in the world

Many people have vivid memories of lakes, whether it be going to the family cottage, or swimming with friends on a warm summer day. Despite these personal connections, few people stop to consider more about lakes, or wonder at their environmental prevalence. Lakes are distinct from other bodies of water, such as the ocean, ponds, or lagoons. They are bodies of water, localized in a basin and surrounded by land, often connected to smaller rivers or streams.

The number of lakes on earth was calculated by Lars Tranvik, a scientist and professor of limnology (the study of inland waters) at Uppsala University in Sweden. He used a satellite to locate and count all bodies of water that were at least 0.2 hectares. This calculation excluded the lakes in Antarctica and Greenland that lay beneath the ice.

Tranvik found that there are approximately 117 million lakes located in various environments around the world. These bodies of water account for over 4% of the earth’s surface. It also found that the combined shore length of these lakes was 250 times longer than the equator.

Here we have only introduced the 10 largest lakes in the world. Below we have listed the 30 largest lakes in the world for your to explore.

1. Caspian Sea

Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea. Rankedex
Surface area 371000 km2 | 143000 sq mi
Maximum depth 1025 m | 3360 ft
Countries Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran

Despite the name including ‘sea’, it is the largest inland reservoir, which is classified as a lake, since this reservoir has no access to ocean waters. The word Capsian is derived from the name Caspi, an ancient people who lived to the southwest of the sea in Transcaucasia.

The Caspian Sea makes up about 40% of all lake water in the world, and it is five times larger than the second largest lake, Lake Superior.

The Caspian Sea is salty (12g/l), however this level is three times less salty than in most other seas. The climate on its coast differs due to the vast geographic area it occupies. For example, the northern coast in the summer can be +22°C, while on the southern coast at the same time temperatures can reach +44°C.

Some of the largest cities on the coast of the Caspian Sea include, Baku and Lankaran in Azerbaijan; Astrakhan and Derbent in Russia; Aktau in Kazakhstan; Avaza in Turkmenistan; and Rasht and Ramsar in Iran.

2. Lake Superior

Surface area 82100 km2 | 31700 sq mi
Maximum depth 147 m | 483 ft
Countries Canada, United States

Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake and the largest of the interconnected Great Lakes system. Approximately two hundred small rivers and streams flow into the lake including Nipigon River, St. Louis River and others. The lake drains into St. Marys River, which feeds Lake Huron.

Due to its size, the lake is clear and cold even in the summer. Storms are frequent on Lake Superior, which can cause waves that measure more than 6 m high. Part of the southern coast is known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” where more ships were lost than in any other area of Lake Superior.

There are many national parks in areas surrounding the lake, which attracts tourists and adventurers to its picturesque shores.

3. Lake Victoria (Nyanza Lake)

Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Surface area 68870 km2 | 26590 sq mi
Maximum depth 81 m | 266 ft
Countries Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda

This lake is known by local residents as Nyanza Lake. It was given the name Victoria by John Hanning Speke in 1858 in honour of the British Queen Victoria.

Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world and the largest lake in Africa. The lake is fed by the Kagera River, and is drained by the Victoria Nile River. The lake is very scenic, with winding coastlines and many beautiful bays. There is also rich flora and fauna located on both the large and small islands of the lake.

This lake supports fishing in a number of coastal cities including Kisumu, Kendu Bay and Homa Bay in Kenya; Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe in Uganda; and Bukoba, Mwanza and Musoma in Tanzania. Lake Victoria in one of the largest assets to Africa’s fishing industry.

4. Lake Huron

Lake Huron
Lake Huron. Wikimedia
Surface area 59600 km2 | 23000 sq mi
Maximum depth 229 m | 750 ft
Countries Canada, United States

This lake is also part of the Great Lakes system, and like Lake Michigan is considered a geographically separate entity. The name of the lake comes from the Huron Indigenous tribe, and it was assigned to the area by the French.

Lake Huron is fed by St. Marys River, and drained by the St. Clair River. It is also home to the largest lake island in the world, Manitoulin Island. This lake has a vast coastline that combines picturesque cliffs and gently sloping sandy beaches. Many of the bays and peninsulas of Lake Huron are famous for their amazing landscapes.

The area surrounding Lake Huron is home to over 10000 people. The largest cities on the lake are Sarnia and Saugeen Shores in Canada, as well as Bay City, Port Huron and Aplena in the United States. Tourism is very common in the region surrounding the lake, particularly due to the great number of reserves and national parks.

5. Lake Michigan

Surface area 58000 km2 | 22000 sq mi
Maximum depth 281 m | 923 ft
Countries United States

Lake Michigan is part of the Great Lakes system, which is a system of five interconnected freshwater lakes. Despite this interconnected system, Lake Michigan is still considered a geographically separate lake.

Twelve million people live along the shores of Lake Michigan, mainly in the metropolitan areas of Chicago and Milwaukee. In these areas, the main industries are tourism and recreation. As such, Lake Michigan has been established as a favorite destination for tourists. This is in part due to the large number of reserves and parks located on the lakes’ shore.

6. Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Surface area 32600 km2 | 12600 sq mi
Maximum depth 1470 m | 4820 ft
Countries Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lake Tanganyika is located in a deep tectonic basin in Africa. Among freshwater lakes, this is second after Lake Baikal in age, volume and depth. It is also the longest freshwater lake in the world.

There are a few inflowing rivers including Ruzizi in the north, and the Malagarasi River in the east. The only outflowing river is Lukuga. The beautiful coastline of this lake is dotted with bays. Lake Tanganyika has a rocky relief that reaches hundreds of meters high in some areas, and only on the eastern side is there a gentler coastal zone.

The lake supports an array of rich vegetation and animal species. There are a number of particularly rare reptiles and waterfowl that inhabit this area. The lake also supports large-scale fishing, providing food for people living in this region.

7. Lake Baikal

Surface area 31500 km2 | 12200 sq mi
Maximum depth 1642 m | 5387 ft
Countries Russia

The seventh largest lake in the world is Lake Baikal located in Eastern Siberia. The lake has a tectonic origin, and is one of the oldest in the world, existing for approximately 25-30 million years.

The stock of fresh water of Lake Baikal accounts for 22-23% of the fresh surface water in the entire world. This makes it the largest freshwater reservoir in volume and the deepest lake in the world.

There are 27 islands of various sizes on the lake, and several peninsulas, the largest of which being the Svyatoy Nos. Many rivers flow into Lake Baikal, the largest being the Selenga, Upper Angara, and Barguzin. Interestingly, there is only one river that flows out, the Angara.

The lake has a vital environmental importance as it hosts microscopic crustacean epischura. This is sustained by an overall surface water temperature that does not warm above +9°С, and reaches a maximum of +15°С only is smaller bays.

This lake is well known for being one of the cleanest lakes in the world, its water is crystal clear. The lakes’ immaculate appearance attracts tourists and travelers from around the globe.

8. Great Bear Lake

Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake
Surface area 31000 km2 | 12000 sq mi
Maximum depth 446 m | 1463 ft
Countries Canada

This lake is located beyond the Arctic Circle in the boreal forests of the Northwest Territories of Canada.

There are several ports on the shores of this lake including Port Radium and Deline. Despite the severe arctic climate, this lake is rich with a diverse population of fish. Though private fishing is permitted, there is a ban on commercial boats due to previous overfishing in the area.

The indigenous tribe of the Sahtu live near the headwaters of Great Bear River in the small village of Deline (Deline settlement). The two peninsulas of the Great Bear Lake for the Sahoyue-Edacho National Historic Site of Canada. This place has cultural and spiritual significance for the Sahtu people.

Big Bear Lake is covered in ice from late November until July. When it melts, the water in the lake is particularly clean and transparent. The lake, and its surrounding Arctic landscapes has attracted tourists from all over the world.

9. Lake Malawi (Lake Nyasa, Lago Niassa)

Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi. Timbuktutravel
Surface area 29500 km2 | 11400 sq mi
Maximum depth 706 m | 2316 ft
Countries Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzani

This lake is fed by 14 different river, the two most significant being the Ruhuhu River and the Shire River (the later connects to the Zambezi River in Mozambique).

On the rocky shores of this lake you will find private sandy bays and stunning beaches, as well as forest slopes and lagoons. Lake Malawi is home to a number of different animals including crocodiles, hippos, and waterfowl. It is also a part of the stunning Lake Malawi National Park. The diverse beauty in flora and fauna of this lake has attracted many tourists to its shores.

With the local climate being consistently tropical, any fluctuations in precipitation can cause changes to water levels of the lake, periodically resulting in flooding in the region.

10. Great Slave Lake

Great Slave Lake
Great Slave Lake
Surface area 27000 km2 | 10000 sq mi
Maximum depth 614 m | 2014 ft
Countries Canada

This beautiful lake got its name from the Slavey Native Americans, who lived on its Southern shore. Great Slave Lake is located in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The lake is fed by several rivers, the most significant being the Hay River, Slave River, Taltson River, and (the largest river in Canada) the Mackenzie River.

The eastern part of the lake is islands, and this territory is part of the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.

The coast here can only be described as picturesque. The western shores are covered with coniferous forests, while the eastern and northern shores are surrounded by the tundra. On the coast of the lake is the small town of Yellowknife, as well as several smaller settlements. The main population in this area are the Indigenous communities who rely on the lake for fishing.