The geography of Africa is astonishing in many respects, but perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects is the continent’s freshwater lake system. Africa is home to some of the largest and deepest lakes on the planet.
These bodies of water in turn provide a welcoming habitat to impressively diverse communities of birds, fish, plant life, and other wildlife.
What are the largest lakes in Africa? Let’s take a look!
8. Lake Nasser (5,250 square kilometres)
Only slightly smaller than Lake Albert, this beautiful reservoir sits behind the Aswan High Dam (one of the largest dams in Africa) across the Nile. Lake Nasser is incredibly popular among tourists, particularly for fishing. A number of impressive ancient Egyptian ruins are submerged under its surface, including the colossal fortress known as Buhen.
7. Lake Kivu (2,700 square kilometres)
This African Great Lake is situated between Rwanda and the Democratic of Congo. It has been discovered that every few thousand years, there have been large-scale extinctions of life in the area, presumably due to the fact that Lake Kivu is situated on volcanic terrain. In fact, just recently, scientists have detected heightened activity at Mount Nyiragongo (one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Africa), and also discovered the appearance of a new vent which hurls lava 90 feet in the air.
The city of Goma is situated nearby. The last time the volcano erupted was in 2002. 400,000 people had to flee for their lives, and 147 didn’t make it. A third of the city was completely destroyed.
Lake Kivu’s location near volcanic vents means the lake itself contains huge amounts of CO2 and methane. Another volcanic event could disturb the gasses and result in the lake itself erupting, putting an additional 2 million people in danger.
Despite the danger, this is a great time for tourists to visit Lake Kivu and Mount Nyiragongo. The lava is quite amazing to look at, and while the volcano might erupt tomorrow, it might not. It could happen centuries from now.
6. Lake Albert (5,300 square kilometres)
Another of Africa’s Great Lakes is Lake Albert, known also as Albert Nyanza and previously as Lake Mobutu Sese Seko. As the sixth-largest lake in Africa, it is the twenty-seventh largest worldwide measured by volume. The lake is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
As part of the Nile system, Lake Albert is bordered on the northwest by the Blue mountains and on the south by swampland. It is an important source of fish for the region.
5. Lake Kariba (5,400 square kilometres)
While Lake Kariba is quite a bit smaller than the next four lakes above in terms of area, it is extraordinary by dint of being the largest man-made lake in Africa as measured by volume. It is shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Because the vegetation on the land where the lake was filled was burned prior to the lake’s creation, the soil became very fertile. This means that there is beautiful flora surrounding the lake as well as many species of wildlife such as crocs and hippos. You may also spot elephants here from time to time.
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