Lakes are defined as large body of slowly moving or standing water that is surrounded by land. There are countless lakes in the world that are formed naturally due to tectonic, volcanic, or even glacial activities. However, lakes can also be man-made. These landlocked bodies of water can be freshwater or saline and can be found in high altitudes and at sea levels. Due to the variety in their formation, habitats and different elevations, lakes vary in depth, length and volume. Here we have the largest lakes in the world to add to your bucket list for a unique experience. They will not only offer an incredible view but will also allow you to enjoy rich flora and fauna, different outdoor activities and tours.
Take A Look At The 10 Largest Lakes Of The World:
1. Largest Lake In The World: Caspian Sea
Taking first place in this list of largest lakes in the world is the 435 km-wide Caspian Sea. Not to be confused because of its name, the Caspian Sea is an endorheic basin (a drainage basin, or watershed, without any outflows) located between Europe and Asia. With a surface area of 371,000 square kilometres (143,200 square miles) and a volume of 78,200 cubic km (18,800 cubic miles), the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water. It is regarded as the world’s largest lake, or a full-fledged sea because of its massive size and saline water. There are five countries that share the biggest lake in the world: Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Azerbaijan.
2. Largest Freshwater Lake In The World: Lake Superior
Shared by two countries, Canada and the United States, and three US states, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Lake Superior is the second-largest lake in the world by surface area. The lake is the largest of the Great Lakes of North America and was formed 1.2 billion years ago through the North American Mid-Continent Rift which almost caused the North American continent to split apart. The farthest north and west of the Great Lakes chain, Superior Lake has a surface area of 82,414 square kilometres. One of the largest freshwater lakes, Lake Superior has the highest elevation of all five great lakes and drains into Lake Huron via the St Mary’s River and the Soo Locks.
3. Largest Lake In Africa: Lake Victoria
Originally referred to as Lake Nyanza, Lake Victoria is primarily located in Uganda and Tanzania, although small portions also reside in Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda. It occupies a surface area of 69,485 square kilometres, making it the largest lake in Africa and the largest tropical lake in the world. It was renamed in honour of Queen Victoria in 1958 by British explorer John Hanning Speke, who was the first Briton to discover the lake. Covering over 3,000 islands as well as numerous archipelagos and reefs within itself, Lake Victoria is also the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. The lake is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 40 metres and a maximum depth of 84 metres.
4. Longest Of The Five Great Lakes Of North America: Lake Huron
Located on the US-Canada border, Lake Huron is the third largest freshwater lake and is among the five Great Lakes of North America. Covering a surface area of 59,596 square kilometres, the lake is also the second-largest in terms of surface area and the third-largest by volume among the five Great Lakes of North America. One of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, Lake Huron is 331 km long, 295 km wide, with the deepest point being 229 metres below the surface. The lake’s coastline stretches over 3,800 miles, making it the longest among all the Great Lakes and it also has over 30,000 islands. The primary inflows of Huron Lake are Mackinac Strait and Saint Mary’s River. The lake is also home to Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest lake island which is a popular tourist destination.
5. Largest Lake Found In One Single Country: Lake Michigan
Stretching nearly 500 kilometres across four states—Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan—Lake Michigan is the fourth largest freshwater lake and the largest lake that’s found within a single country. With 4,918 cubic km of water, it is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume, and with a surface area of 58,000 square km, it is the third-largest by surface area. Lake Michigan is 494 km long and 190 km wide and has over 2,575 km of shoreline. One of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Michigan was formed due to glacial activity and today its shores are home to approximately 12 million people. The average and the maximum depth of the lake are 85 metres and 282 metres respectively. The name of this lake is believed to originate from the native Ojibwe word michi-gami, which means Great Water.
6. Second-oldest Freshwater Lake In The World: Lake Tanganyika
Another African great lake, Lake Tanganyika is located in the highlands of Africa and is shared between four countries—Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Zambia. The lake is surrounded by mountains and valleys within the Albertine Rift and has a surface area of 32,893 square kilometres, average depth of 570 metres, and a maximum depth of 1470 metres. With a north-to-south distance of 677 kilometres (420 miles), Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake. The lake is primarily fed by the Ruzizi, Kalamboo, and Malagarai Rivers.
Formed naturally due to tectonic movements, Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa is also the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second-largest by volume, and the second-deepest. It drains into the Congo River system and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Tanganyika is considered one of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world, with more than 2,000 plant and animal species.
7. Deepest Lake In The World: Lake Baikal
Formed 25 million years ago, Lake Baikal is said to be the oldest existing freshwater lake on Earth. It is located in the mountainous Russian region of Siberia, north of the Mongolian border and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 for its rich and unusual freshwater ecosystem. This ancient lake is also called Nature’s Lake, as it was formed due to the movements within a tectonic rift zone. The lake is known as the deepest lake in the world, with a depth of 1,700 metres (5,500 feet).
Lake Baikal is also known as the Galapagos of Russia because of its unique diversity as a result of the lake’s remote location and age. With a total surface area of 31,500 square kilometres, it is also the world’s largest lake by volume. The lake contains 20 per cent of the Earth’s total freshwater and is also considered one of the clearest lakes in the world. The primary sources of inflow for Lake Baikal are the Barguzin, Selenge and Upper Angara Rivers, while the Angara River drains it.
8. Largest Lake In Canada: Great Bear Lake
Located 200 km south of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories of Canada, the Great Bear Lake is the largest lake entirely in Canada. It has a total surface area of 31,080 square kilometres, making it the fourth-largest lake in North America. Its name was derived from the Chipewyan language word satudene, meaning ‘grizzly bear water people’. The lake is 320 km long, up to 175 km wide, and has the deepest point at 446 metres. The Great Bear Lake has 26 islands and it is fringed by Canadian boreal forest and tundra. The Great Bear River is the primary outflow of this lake. The surface of Great Bear is located at a height of 186 metres above sea level, and it is therefore known for unbearably cold temperatures in the winter months.
9. Third Largest Lake On The African Continent: Lake Malawi
Known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique, Lake Malawi is an African great lake. It is the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system and is located between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. This spectacular African lake is the fourth-largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and also holds the distinction of being the third-largest and the second-deepest lake in Africa. It has a total surface area of 30,044 square kilometres (11,600 miles), an average depth of 292 metres, and a maximum depth of 706 metres.
Lake Malawi’s primary inflow is the Ruhuhu River, and the primary outflow is drained by the Shire River at its southern end. Lake Malawi is a meromictic lake (a lake which has layers of water that do not intermix) and was formed at an elevation of about 500 metres above sea level due to tectonic activity. It is famous for being home to the highest number of fish species than any other lake, including at least 700 species of cichlids.
10. Deepest Lake In North America: Great Slave Lake
The second-largest lake in the northwest territories of Canada, Great Slave Lake is North America’s deepest lake with a maximum depth of 614 metres. The lake measures 469 km long and 20-203 km wide and has a total area of about 28,930 square kilometres. Situated far north at an elevation of around 156 metres, the Great Slave Lake is frozen eight months of the year. It was named after the “Slavey” Indians, who first inhabited areas around the lake and established the town of Dettah and others. The primary inflow of the lake is the Hay River while the main outflow is drained by the Mackenzie River. During winter, the lake maintains a temperature so cold that the residents are able to carve an ice highway through it, creating a shortcut between the territorial capital Yellowknife and Dettah.
Which Of These Largest Lakes In The World Is Going To Be Your First Pick?
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your swimsuit, and take a dip or a boat ride in one of these massive lakes. Travel from the world’s biggest lake—the Caspian Sea, which spreads across the continents of Europe and Asia to the Great Slave Lake in North America to check out some of the biggest water sources on Earth. If you think we have missed out on something that should be on this list of the largest lakes in the world, let us know in the comments below.