The world is home to countless lakes, some in high mountain areas and some at low elevations. The largest of these lakes have a surface area of at least over 4,000 square kilometers or 1,500 square miles. Even though the passing seasons and years often cause the surface areas of many of these lakes to vary considerably, these lakes still remain as large as they can be.
Narrowing down the list, here are the top 10 largest lakes in the world by surface area that are truly majestic bodies of water.
- 10. Great Slave Lake (Canada, 31,080 km2, 12,000 sq mi)
- 9. Malawi (Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, 30,044 km2, 11,600 sq mi)
- 8. Great Bear Lake (Canada, 31,080 km2, 12,000 sq mi)
- 7. Baikal (Russia, 31,500 km, 12,200 sq mi)
- 6. Lake Tanganyika (Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Congo, 32,893 km2, 12,700 sq mi)
- 5. Michigan (United States, 58,000 km2, 22,000 sq mi)
- 4. Huron (Canada, United States, 59,600 km2, 23,000 sq mi)
- 3. Victoria (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, 69,485 km2, 26,828 sq mi)
- 2. Superior (Canada, United States, 82,414 km2, 31,820 sq mi)
- 1. Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, 371,000 km2, 143,000 sq mi)
10. Great Slave Lake (Canada, 31,080 km2, 12,000 sq mi)
The Great Slave Lake is not only the world’s 10th largest lake; it is also the 2nd largest lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. In fact, it also happens to be North America’s deepest lake, with a depth of 614 meters or 2,014 feet. An area of 27,200 square kilometers is covered by this lake in the southern part of Canada.
9. Malawi (Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, 30,044 km2, 11,600 sq mi)
Lake Malawi happens to be an African Great Lake and its location between the three mentioned countries also makes it the East African Rift system’s southernmost lake. Along with being the world’s 9th largest lake, it is also Africa deepest and 3rd largest lake as well. According to reports, it is the habit of the world’s most species of freshwater fish.
8. Great Bear Lake (Canada, 31,080 km2, 12,000 sq mi)
The Great Bear Lake is not only the world’s 8th largest lake as well as Canada’s largest lake, which is entirely within the Canadian border. This lake is at a height of 186 meters or 610 feet above sea level. The Chipewyan or the “grizzly bear water people”, who were among the First Nations to live on the northern shores, named it Great Bear Lake.
7. Baikal (Russia, 31,500 km, 12,200 sq mi)
Lake Baikal, which is known as “nature lake” in Mongolian, happens to be a rift lake between the Buryat Republic and the Irkutsk Oblast in the south of the Siberian region of Russia. Along with being the 7th largest, it also the world’s greater lake in terms of volume, and it is also the world’s deepest lake and perhaps even, oldest lake.
6. Lake Tanganyika (Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Congo, 32,893 km2, 12,700 sq mi)
Lake Tanganyika is another African Great Lake on this list. According to estimates, it is world’s 2nd deepest and largest lake by volume, and it is also the longest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Tanganyika is divided among these four mentioned countries, with most of it present in the Congo. Water from Lake Tanganyika ultimately flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
5. Michigan (United States, 58,000 km2, 22,000 sq mi)
Lake Michigan is among North America’s five Great Lakes and unlike the other four Great Lakes; this entire lake is located within the United States. Out of Great Lakes, it is the 2nd largest by volume and in terms of surface area, it is the 3rd largest. The basin of Lake Michigan is conjoined with the basin of Lake Huron to the east.
4. Huron (Canada, United States, 59,600 km2, 23,000 sq mi)
The wide Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Huron to Lake Michigan, which is actually its westerly counterpart. Ontario, a province of Canada, binds Lake Huron on the east, while the state of Michigan binds this lake on the west. At one time, this region was inhabited by the Huron people, and thus, this lake was named after them by early French explorers.
3. Victoria (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, 69,485 km2, 26,828 sq mi)
Lake Victoria is yet another African Great Lake. The first person who discovered this lake was John Hanning Speke, a European explorer, who named it after Queen Victoria. Speke, accompanied by Richard Francis Burton, was on an expedition in 1858 to locate River Nile’s source when he discovered this lake. It also happens to be the world’s largest tropical lake.
2. Superior (Canada, United States, 82,414 km2, 31,820 sq mi)
Lake Superior is North America’s largest Great Lake. By surface area, it is regarded as the world’s largest freshwater lake and by volume, it not only the world’s 3rd largest freshwater lake but also North America’s largest freshwater lake. Via the Soo Locks and the St. Marys River, water from Lake Superior flows into Lake Huron.
1. Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, 371,000 km2, 143,000 sq mi)
The Caspian Sea, despite its name, is definitely a lake, not only the world’s largest lake but also the world’s largest enclosed inland water body. At the same time, it is also a full-fledged sea. It also happens to be an endorheic basin due to having no outflows. During ancient times, Caspian Sea was perceived as an ocean by the people who inhabited its coast.
While there are plenty of other large lakes in the world, these were the top 10 largest lakes in the world by surface area. No wonder, 70% of the surface of the Earth is covered with water.