With over one hundred and seventeen million lakes globally, the formation and the importance of so many lakes in the world are recondite. 

The lakes serve a purpose to humans. The lake has facilitated humans with drinking water facilities, a shelter, and a fertile shore to grow food throughout history.

The lake also accommodates millions of species and balances ecosystems in the world. As the lakes get bigger, the more purposes it serves to earth.

Below is the list of the ten largest lakes by area in the world.

Table of Contents

1. The Caspian sea

The Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea | Image Credit – Trek Earth

Commonly known as the Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcania Sea, or Khazar Sea, the Caspian sea is the world’s largest inland body of water.

The sea lies between Asia and Europe: east of the Caucasus, south of the fertile plains of Southern Russia in Eastern Europe, west of the broad steppe of Central Asia, south of the productive plains of Southern Russia in Eastern Europe, and north of the mountainous Iranian Plateau of Western Asia. 

Covering 3,71,000 km2 in the area, It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third of average seawater. 

Bounded by Kazakhstan from mid-north to mid-east, Azerbaijan to the southwest, Russia from mid-north to mid-west, Iran to the southern corners, and Turkmenistan in southern parts of its east coast. The surface is about 27 m below sea level. 

A wide range of species has made this place home. Due to the caviar and oil industry, the lake’s ecosystem is devastated, for which the site is widely known. 

Remnant of the ancient paratethys sea, the Caspian sea’s seafloor is a standard ocean basalt and not a continental granite body.

Due to tectonic plate uplift and a fall in sea level five million ago, the sea became landlocked. 

Area3,71,000 km2 
LocationBetween europe and asia
Status Drying 
SpecialtyWide range of species 

2. Lake Superior

Lake Superior
Lake Superior | Image Credit – Pixabay

The second-largest lake in the world, Lake Superior is the largest and northernmost of the great lakes of North America. This Lake is the largest lake in terms of surface area. 

Lake Superior holds ten percent of the world’s surface freshwater. Ontario Canada surrounds the lake from the north, Minnesota from the west, and Wisconsin and Michigan’s upper peninsula to the south.

The lake drains into Lake Huron through st. Mary’s river. More than 200 rivers feed lake Superior. 

The lake’s average surface elevation is 600ft above sea level. There are numerous islands in Lake Superior.

The largest island is Isle Royale in Michigan. The royal island itself contains many islands, and the surface area of Lake Superior is 31,700 square miles. It has a maximum length and breadth of 560km and 257km. 

With an average depth of 483ft, the full depth of the lake superior is 1,333ft. It is speculated that the water in the lake superior can cover the north and south American lands. 

As per the research by the professor of the University of Minnesota Duluth, the lake’s surface temperature is rising rapidly.

If the trend continues, the lake, which freezes entirely once every 20 years, could be ice-free by 2040.

The lake accommodates more than 80 species of fish. Due to low nutrient content in water, there is less production in terms of the fish population. The lake is classified as an oligotrophic lake. 

Area82,100 km2
LocationCanada and United states 
Status Vulnerable and drying 
SpecialtyLargest body of freshwater

3. Lake  Victoria

Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria | Image Credit – Pixabay

John Hanning Speke renamed the lake after queen victoria while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton. 

The name of the lake widely depends on the people from different dialects. The lake is one of the great African lakes.

The surface area of victoria lake is 68,870  km2making it Africa’s largest lake by region, and it is also the world’s ninth-largest continental lake with a volume containing 2,424 km3 of water. 

The world’s largest tropical lake, the victoria lake, is also the world’s second-largest freshwater lake. Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania share the lake with 6%, 45%, and 49%, respectively. 

Home to many endemic species, the lake also accommodates invasive fishes that threaten many native species to extinction. 

The lake has nine hundred eighty-five islands, and the largest one is the Ukerewe Island. 

Victoria stands as 400,000 years old, which is relatively young in analogy to the earth’s long history.

Human interference has caused a lot of environmental issues, which has been called the “most dramatic example of human-caused extinction within an ecosystem.” 

Endemic species such as haplochromine cichlids are endangered species that prey on Nile perch.

LocationUganda, Kenya, and Tanzania 
Status Drying, polluted by everything from plastics to chemical fertilizers 
SpecialtyIt had an economic importance,since ages, to the countries surrounding it.

4. Lake Huron 

Lake Huron
Lake Huron | Image Credit – Pixabay

Lake Huron is the fourth largest lake globally and one of the five great lakes of North America.

Lake Huron, the second largest of all great lakes by surface area, measures 23,007 square miles. The lake is the third-largest freshwater lake, partly in Michigan and Ontario. 

The early French explorers named the lake “Huron” for the Huron peoples inhabiting the region. 

At 577 ft above sea level, the lake’s average depth is 195ft, while the maximum depth is 750ft.

The primary inflows of the lake are the straits of Mackinac and Saint Marys river, whereas the direct outflows are the Saint Clair river.

Out of all the Huron islands, the Manitoulin island is the most famous as there are 12600 residents. Research shows that the lake has a retention time of 21 years. The ecology of the lake changed drastically in the last century. 

Once fish trout dominated the deepwater freshwater community fed on ciscos and sculpins. Still, the species are entirely extirpated from the lake because of overfishing and invasive species such as sea lamprey. 

There are more than thousands of wrecks in Lake Huron. Of those thousands of wrecks, 185 are recorded in Saginaw bay, and 116 are found in the 448 square miles.

Area59,600 km2
LocationCanada, and United states 
Status Down almost one foot
SpecialtyHas a longest shoreline of the great lakes 

5. Lake Michigan 

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan | Image Credit – Mlive

Located in the states, Lake Michigan is the largest lake by area in any country. The lake is one of the great five lakes of North America and the second largest of the great lakes by volume.

In the east, the basin of Lake Michigan is conjoined with the lake Huron through narrow straits of Mackinac, placing it in the same surface level. The Huron and Michigan lakes are technically a single lake.

The lake is shared by Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Some significant islands of the lake include beaver island, Drummond island, Grosse ile island, Harsens island, and Mackinac islands.

The max length of the lake is 307 mi, while the max-width is 118mi. It contains a volume of 4,900 km3 of water. 

The retention time of the lake is calculated to be 99 years. As lake Michigan has many beaches, the region is often referred to as the “third coast” after the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

A ferry is operated on lake Michigan connecting Wisconsin on the west shore and Michigan on the east. Beaver Island is the largest island by area in Lake Michigan. 

The water in Lake Michigan is supplied to millions for drinking purposes. Lake Michigan accommodates a small variety of fishes and other organisms. Thus, fishing is one of the significant activities in the lake.

Area58,030 km2
LocationUnited states 
Status Most polluted of all great lakes 
SpecialtyHas its own bermuda triangle 

6. Lake Tanganyika 

Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika | Image Credit – Flickr

A great African lake, Lake Tanganyika, is shared among four countries: Tanzania, the democratic republic of congo, Burundi, and Zambia. 

The lake is delineated as the second oldest freshwater lake globally, the second-largest by volume, and the second deepest lake in the world.

Tanzania and the democratic republic of congo possess the majority of lakes with forty-six and forty percent, respectively. The lake drains the water in the Congo river system and ultimately pours into the Atlantic ocean.

Henry Morton Stanley encountered the name of the lake “Tanganyika” when he visited the shores of a lake in ujiji in 1876. 

The locals didn’t know what the word meant: this led Henry to believe that Tanganyika means the lake spreading out like a plain or plain like lake. Although, later on, he found that every ethnicity had its name for the lake.

Out of several islands on the lake, there are six most important islands: Kavala island, Mamba-Kayenda Islands, Milima Island, Kibishie Island, which lie in the democratic republic of congo, and the other two islands Kumbula Island, Mutondwe Island that lies in Zambia.

The mountainous wall of the valley confines the lake. The lake extends for 676 km in a general- north south direction and averages 50km in width. With the length and breadth of 673km and 72km, the lake’s surface area is 32900 km3. 

Area32,900 km2
LocationBurundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Democratic republic of congo 
Status Drying, endangered species because of contaminants in the lake 
SpecialtyWorld’s longest freshwater lake 

7. Lake Baikal

 Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal | Image Credit – Flickr

A rift lake, lake Baikal, is located in Russia. The federal subjects of Irkutsk oblast lie in the northeast, while Buryatia lies in the southeast. 

The lake is the world’s largest freshwater lake by volume: it contains twenty percent of its fresh surface water.

Lake Baikal is a world heritage site enlisted by UNESCO in 1966. The exquisite beauty of the lake and Transbaikalia, the region to the east of Transbaikalia,  attracts millions of tourists every year.

The region is an abode to various endemic species. It is home to Buryat tribes who raise cattle on the eastern side of the lake. The temperature fluctuates heavenly in the religion, reaching up to -19 degrees celsius in the winter while in summer it reaches up to 14 degrees celsius. 

The Baikal is the most ancient lake in geographical history: the age is estimated at 25 to 30 million years. The Baikal rift zone created the lake, slowly pulling the earth’s crust apart.

Lake Baikal is six hundred thirty six kilometers long and seventy-nine kilometers wide, the most significant surface area of any freshwater lake in Asia, at 31,722 km2. The Baikal lake is the deepest in the world.

Area31,722 km2
Status Drying and polluted because of unfacilitated sewage system 
SpecialtyOldest lake in the world 

8. Great bear lake 

The Great Bear Rainforest Nature Documentary | Video Credit – Wild Nature

The lake lies in the boreal forest of Canada. The lake is the largest entirely in Canada. 

The fourth-largest lake in North America, the great bear lake, is also the eighth largest lake in the world by surface area.

The name originates from the Chipewyan word “satudene,” which means grizzly bear water people. The Sahtu is named after the lake.

A mountain near the lake is called a grizzly bear mountain, also derived from the Chipewyan language.

With a surface area of 31,153 km2, the lake holds up 2,236 km3 of water. The lake’s maximum depth is 446m, while the average is 71.7m. Great Bear Lake is usually covered with ice from late November to July.

There are uranium deposits in the great bear lake region. Gilbert Labine discovered the uranium deposits in the area. 

The great bear lake holds a lot of value in Délı̨nę peoples’ identity, laws, and culture. The Dene peoples are always looking up to protect the lake.

The Dene elder, who is regarded as the prophet, had made 30 prophecies, resulting in becoming true. 

The Délı̨nę people interpret that the lake is salvage for the remaining population when the world dries up. 

Status Drying 
SpecialtyThe lake is cold and has clear water 

9. Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi | Image Credit – Flickr

Lake Malawi is a great African lake located in the eastern African rift system. The lake is in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania regions. 

In Mozambique, the lake is called Lago Niassa, whereas, in Tanzania, the lake is widely famous as Lake Nyasa. The lake is the fifth largest freshwater lake by volume and the ninth-largest lake by area. 

The lake that is the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa is home to more fish species than any other lake. The lake accommodates more than 700 species of cichlids.

The government of Mozambique declared a reserve to the Mozambique portion of the lake while the Malawi portion is included in lake Malawi national park.

The water layers do not mix up, so the lake is listed as a meromictic lake. Lake Malawi is 560 to 580 km long and about 75 km wide at its widest point. With a total 29,600 km2, the lake is 706m at its deepest point. 

The lake was first visited by a portuguese trader cândido José da Costa Cardoso. But the one who named the lake was David Livingstone. He named it lake Nyasa. David also called the lake with many nicknames such as the lake of stars, storms, etc.

LocationMalawi, Mozambique,and Tanzania                       
Status Polluted because of plastics and drying 
SpecialtyHome to more species of fishes than any other lakes

10. Great slave lake

Great slave lake
Great slave lake | Image Credit – Flickr

The second-largest Lake by area in Canada’s northwest territories is Great slave lake: In North America, the great slave Lake is the deepest and the tenth-largest area. 

With 469 km length and 203 km breadth, the Lake covers an area of 27,200 square kilometers. It is the 10th or 12th largest Lake by volume, with a volume ranging from 1,070km3 (260 Cu mi) to 1,580km3 (380 Cu mi) and up to 2,088km3 (501 Cu mi). 

The Lake’s name originated from history when the first nation peoples of the dene family were called slaves by their enemies by Cree.

From 2014 to 2016, animal planet documented a series called ice lake rebels where they talked and showed about the lives of houseboaters on the great slave lake. 

The Lake’s average depth is 41m, and the max depth is 614m. The Lake is 156m above sea level.

Area27,200 km2
Status Water levels are rising but the lake is polluted with arsenic trioxide waste 
SpecialtyFishing communities 

Wrapping up 

The above article intends to provide information on the world’s ten largest lakes. The report also includes statistics on the lakes’ length, breadth, and area. From the information, we can conclude that all great lakes suffer because of human action. 

Every great lake is either heavily polluted or in the process of declining water levels, or both. There is one exception: great slave lake is increasing its water level because of some other factors. Climate change has started the lakes and the attributes connected to the lake, including the ecosystem.

(Last Updated on May 25, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Saurav Khadka, with his A levels in computer science from Saipal Academy, owns a keen desire to know more about the environment. He wants to preach his knowledge to others by learning through his hobbies; reading, writing, traveling, and watching movies. He believes sharing his insight regarding a sustainable environment will undoubtedly generate positive perceptions in the people.