Major Lakes of the World & Important Facts [with PDF Map]

This article provides comprehensive coverage of the major lakes of the world and covers all the important facts that are key to preparing this topic for various competitive exams, including the UPSC exam.

Additionally, it also provides a free downloadable PDF map of important lakes of the world.

Major Lakes of the World Map

Major Lakes of the World and Key Facts

This section includes a table showing the five largest lakes in the world according to Surface Area, Volume, Maximum Depth, and Length.

Please Note:

  • The Caspian Sea is taken as a Lake in this table. However, in some cases, it is considered to be a sea. In that case, you can ignore the Caspian Sea in the table below. (I have explained this later in this article)
  • In the table below, lakes named in Bluish colour are Freshwater Lakes, while those named in Brownish colour are Saline Lakes.
RankLargest by AreaLargest by VolumeDeepestLongest
1.Caspian SeaCaspian SeaLake BaikalCaspian Sea
2.Lake SuperiorLake BaikalLake TanganyikaLake Tanganyika
3.Lake VictoriaLake TanganyikaCaspian SeaLake Baikal
4.Lake HuronLake SuperiorLake Vostok**Lake Superior
5.Lake MichiganLake MalawiLake MalawiLake Balkhash

** Lake Vostok is a subglacial lake in Antarctica. A subglacial lake is a lake that is found under a glacier, typically beneath an ice cap or ice sheet.

Q. Which is the second-longest Freshwater Lake in the world? (Check the table)

Yes, it is Lake Baikal. It is also the deepest lake in the world.

Is the Caspian Sea a Lake or a Sea?

The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water and shares its area between Europe and Asia. Its classification as either a lake or a sea has been a matter of both geographical and geopolitical debate.

It has traditionally been classified as a sea due to its vast size and saline water, yet it exhibits many characteristics typical of lakes. Due to this ambiguity, most often people tend to ignore the Caspian Sea while considering facts on Lakes.

  • If considered a lake, It is the largest lake in the world both by Area and Volume.
  • Countries bordering the Caspian Sea are:
    1. Kazakhstan
    2. Russia
    3. Azerbaijan
    4. Iran
    5. Turkmenistan

Great Lakes of North America

  • The Great Lakes (also called the Great Lakes of North America), are a series of five large interconnected freshwater lakes in North America that connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River.
  • These lakes are marked by a red dotted circle in the map given above.
  • These lakes are (From largest to smallest):
    1. Lake Superior
    2. Lake Huron
    3. Lake Michigan
    4. Lake Erie
    5. Lake Ontario
  • Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.
  • Four of these lakes (Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario) are shared between USA and Canada
  • Lake Michigan in the USA is the largest lake that is entirely within one country.

African Great Lakes

  • These are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift.
  • The African Great Lakes include:
    • Lake Victoria: the second-largest freshwater lake in the world by area. It is shared among three countries – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
    • Lake Tanganyika: the world’s longest freshwater lake. It is also the world’s second-largest freshwater lake by volume and depth. This lake is shared among four countries – Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Zambia.
    • Lake Malawi: the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake by volume and depth.
    • Lake Turkana: the world’s largest permanent desert lake and the world’s largest alkaline lake.
  • Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world. (If the Caspian Sea is not considered a lake.)
  • The Equator passes through Lake Victoria.

Continent-Wise Largest Lakes in the World

The table below provides a list of the largest lakes in each continent by both area and volume.

Please note the colour coding:

  • Saline Lakes
  • Freshwater Lakes
ContinentLargest Lake by AreaLargest Lake by Volume
AustraliaLake EyreLake Eyre
AfricaLake VictoriaLake Tanganyika
AntarcticaLake VostokLake Vostok
AsiaLake BaikalLake Baikal
EuropeLake LadogaLake Ladoga
North AmericaLake SuperiorLake Superior
South AmericaLake TiticacaLake Titicaca

Other Important Facts about Lakes

  • Although the Dead Sea and the Aral Sea have ‘sea’ in their names, they are lakes and not seas.
  • The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, has its surface at about 430 m below sea level, making its shores the lowest land-based elevation on Earth.
  • Lake Titicaca, lying at an elevation of 3,812 m between Peru and Bolivia, is the world’s highest commercially navigable lake.

FAQs on Major Lakes of the World

Which is the Largest Lake in the World?

The Caspian Sea is the Largest Lake in the world both by Area and Volume. It is shared between Asia and Europe and is bordered by 5 countries – Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkmenistan.

Which is the Largest Freshwater Lake in the world by Area?

Lake Superior, located in North America, is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It’s one of the Great Lakes of North America and is shared by the United States and Canada.

Which is the Largest Freshwater Lake in the world by Volume?

The largest freshwater lake in the world by volume is Lake Baikal, located in Siberia, Russia. It contains about 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve, making it the largest freshwater lake by volume on Earth.

Which is the Largest Saltwater Lake in the world?

The Caspian Sea is the largest saltwater lake in the world by both area and volume. It has a salinity of approximately 1.2% (12 g/L), which is about a third of the salinity of average seawater.

Which is the Longest Lake in the world?

The longest lake in the world is Lake Tanganyika, located in Africa. It is approximately 675 kilometers (420 miles) long and stretches across four countries: Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Zambia.

However, this would not be true if the Caspian Sea were considered a lake. In that case, the Caspian Sea which spans approximately 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) in length, would be the longest lake in the world.

Which is the Deepest Lake in the world?

Lake Baikal, located in Siberia, Russia, is the deepest lake in the world. It reaches a maximum depth of approximately 1,642 meters (5,387 feet).

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Subodh Sharma

I am Subodh Sharma, an IIT Roorkee graduate, committed to assisting UPSC aspirants in their map-based preparation journey. Having dedicated over four years to preparing for the UPSC examinations myself, I deeply understand the challenges and frustrations aspirants face in finding quality maps-based content. The years of preparation have given me...

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