A lake is an area of variable size land filled with water in form of a basin. Though many lakes can be found over earth’s surface but the majority of lakes are located in higher latitudes and mountainous areas. Lakes can range in size from a small pond to a large body of water such as ‘The Great Lake’, much larger than general rivers.
Lakes and rivers are quite similar and share almost same characteristics. They both are a large body of water and serve as a source of water for millions. The only difference is that rivers are the moving body of water while lakes are inland bodies of standing water. Many rivers originate from lakes and some even end in lakes. So, lakes are the huge body of water larger than pond, lagoons and sometimes even rivers.
Usually lakes contain fresh water but in some cases, water can be salty due to lack of fresh water coming sources. The lakes, formed by streams, rivers, glaciers, underground water, volcanic and meteorite activity and by the movement of earth’s crust, are the fresh water lakes. When natural water enters a body of water, it carries minerals with it but as water dissolves, it leaves the minerals behind and there remains only fresh water. Canada, consisting of 50% of world’s total lakes, is a very important country when it comes to freshwater lakes.
Here is a list of top 10 largest freshwater lakes in the world in terms of surface area right now
10. Lake Erie: 25,720 km2
With having the total depth of 210 feet, Lake Erie is the 10th largest lake in the world and fourth largest in North America by surface area. 95% of its total water comes via rivers especially Detroit River and all other upper lakes. The lake provides drinking water for approximately 11 million inhabitants living in this watershed. The water provided by Erie is extremely fresh and is suitable for waterborne commerce, manufacturing, the power production and the navigation. Thus it has led to intensive industrial development in the country along with being a great assist to agriculture. Erie Lake, the shallowest and smallest lake by volume of Great Lake, is widely known for its ‘walleye fishery’ in the world.
9. Great slave lake: 28,900 km2
The freshwater lake located in southern half of Northwest Territories, is the 9th largest lake in world and the biggest in Canada in terms of area. The lake expands in a vast country size area of 28,900 km2, roughly same size as Belgium. Reaching to the maximum depth of more than 2000 feet, it is also the deepest lake in North America. Named after Slave Indians, this lake is fed by many rivers, of which Slave River is the most important. Featuring abundant islands, tall and massive red cliffs, rocky slopes, amusing verities of birds, world-class fishing and of course sandy beaches, this neat, clean and cold lake attracts numerous tourists too.
8. Lake Malawi: 30,000 km2
Stretching in an area of 30,000 km2, Lake Malawi shares the border of three African countries Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Having the extraordinarily depth of 2300ft, this lake is second deepest and third largest lake in Africa and 8th largest in the world. Lake’s main inflow is Ruhuhu River and the Shire River is its only outflow, flowing water out of the lake in southern part. This meromictic lake is an important provider of drinking water, irrigation, and hydroelectricity for the population living around it. World’s first fresh water national park, established in 1984, is located in this lake only. This park, consisting of several breath-taking islands and a peninsula, has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. Because of its rich and distinct fish harvest, this lake plays a vital role in African economy.
7. Great Bear Lake: 31,153 km2
Maximizing a depth of 1463 feet, Great Bear Lake is the largest lake in Canada, 3rd largest in North America and 7th largest in the planet. Positioned within Canada’s Northwest Territories, the cold body of water is usually frozen throughout the year making it impossible for human settlements. But the lake serves as a major spot for fishing and hunting. Before the community has been abandoned, it was also a vital hub of mining of Uranium, radium and other minerals. The important sources of water in this lake are Whitefish River, Haldgane River, and Dease River. Widely-known for its fishing, this glacial lake boasts the world record of being home to 4-5 different kinds of trouts including Arctic Grayling.
6. Lake Baikal: 31,722 km2
Apart from being 6th largest lake in terms of area, Baikal is also the largest by volume, oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. With a boasting volume of water of 5,521 cubic miles and endless depth of 5,371 feet, the lake is located in southern Siberia area of Russia. One of the natural wonders and pearl of Siberia, this lake is a home to more than 3700 species, of which 80% are endemic. Considered as one of the cleanest lakes on the earth, this lake is fed by more than 300 streams and rivers. Contributing nearly 50% of the lake’s water, Selenga River is the primary source of water and Angara River is the only outflow of the lake. Needless to say, this lake is economically as well as touristy backbone of Russia.
5. Lake Tanganyika: 32,900 km2
Another African lake in this list. Lake Tanganyika is the second largest African lake and longest freshwater lake in the world. Reaching the depth of 4,300 feet, this lake is the second deepest lake after Baikal in the world. Located in Albertine Rift, in EastAfrica, it is a home to exceptional diversity of more than 2000 plants and animals, 350 fish species and numerous invertebrates. Regarded as one of the most biologically unique habitats on the earth, this lake hugely contributes to the economy of the country as fishes from Lake Tanganyika are exported throughout the East Africa. The 1 million people living around the lake are entirely dependent on lake fish for the protein as well as for a living. Recently the lake has faced the ecological concerns because of overfishing.
4. Lake Michigan: 58,000 km2
Entirely located in US and surrounded by states Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, Lake Michigan is the 4th largest in the world lake by area. Having the volume of 4,920 cubic km, this lake is also second largest lake by volume on the earth. Many rivers and streams flow into Lake Michigan, of which Fox Wolf, the Grand and the Kalamazoo are the major sources. Due to its numerous beautiful beaches along the coast, it is nicknamed as ‘Third Coast’. Since a long time, it has been a home to a large number of human communities, wide range of bird population, trouts and fishes. The southern portion of the lake is rich agricultural area and heavily populated with hugely industrial development, that certainly pushes the economical and tourism rate of the country ahead.
3. Lake Huron: 59,600km2
Having the longest shoreline of Great Lakes, Huron is the 3rd largest lake in the world both in terms of area and volume. Located between eastern shore of Michigan and Ontario, Canada, this lake comprises more than 3000 islands including Manitoulin Islands, the largest freshwater island in the world. With somewhat warm water, amusing sandy beaches, and some spectacular scenery under and above the water, this lake is a prominent tourist destination in the country. The glacial lake is mainly fed by Straits of Mackinac and St. Mary’s River consisting of the only outflow source River St. Claire. Though lake had problems with invasive species like zebra, round gobies, and lampreys but is known for its fishing.
2. Lake Victoria: 69,485km2
The huge Victoria Lake, named after Queen Victoria, is situated in East-Central Africa bordering the countries Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Interestingly, in Victoria Lake, world’s largest tropical lake, 80% of the water comes from rain and other 20% comes from small streams. The major river that flows out of the lake is Nile River. The lake, massive in size embodies a group of 80 islands known as Ssese Group. Even after being a booming fishing hub, nowadays lake is suffering a steep decline. Scientist fear that all creatures in the lake might extinct, if any action is not taken soon.
1. Lake Superior: 82,103km2
Located on the northern edge of Wisconsin, Lake Superior is not only world’s largest lake but also Great Lake’s deepest, coldest and largest freshwater lake on the earth. The name Superior refers to lake’s massive size. Boasting extremely clean water, the lake reaches to the maximum depth of 1300 feet. The lake is provided water by many major rivers but outflow source is only St. Mary’s River. Not to surprise, Lake Superior is a home to many endemic species of birds, animals, and a wide variety of plants. Recently, the lake has been affected by draught, a lack of snow and rainfall which has caused to dip down the water level of the lake.
These are the 10 largest freshwater lakes in the world which are not only massive in size but also in Importance. As there is only 3% fresh water on the earth, these fresh water lakes are certainly a vital asset to the living beings. Thankfully, the most of the lakes in the world are the fresh water lakes.