Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake on the planet with a surface area of 26,828 square miles (69,484 square kilometers)—beaten in surface area only by Lake Superior.

Lake Victoria lies in Uganda and Tanzania where they border Uganda.

Lake Victoria, through its single outlet to the north, the Victoria Nile, is a lifeline to Sudan and Egypt. The lake touches the Equator in its northern reaches. The countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, border the lake and control 49%, 45%, and 6% of the lake surface, respectively. While massive in size with a coastline exceeding 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers)

Lake Victoria is rather shallow, only 270 feet (82 meters) at its deepest point. Some 200 species of fish live in the waters of the lake, providing a direct or indirect livelihood to approximately 3 million people.

Since Lake Victoria lies a bit off the well-trodden tourist track, visitors who make the effort to get there will be rewarded with a glimpse of authentic Ugandan life largely untouched.

Besides fishing, visitors can embark on island tracking safaris or bird watching excursions.

The lake was named after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke, the first Briton to document it.

Speke accomplished this in 1858, while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton to locate the source of the Nile River.

Lake Victoria receives its water primarily from direct rainfall and thousands of small streams. The Kagera River is the largest river flowing into this lake, with its mouth on the lake’s western shore.

Lake Victoria is drained solely by the Nile River near Jinja, Uganda, on the lake’s northern shore.

Its catchment area covers 184,000 square kilometres (71,000 sq mi).

The lake has a shoreline of 7,142 kilometres (4,438 mi) when digitized at the 1:25,000 level, with islands constituting 3.7 percent of this length and is divided among three countries: Kenya (6 percent or 4,100 square kilometres or 1,600 square miles, Uganda (45 percent or 31,000 square kilometres or 12,000 square miles), and Tanzania (49 percent or 33,700 square kilometres or 13,000 square miles).

Ecologically, Lake Victoria is relatively young – about 400,000 years old – and it formed when westward-flowing rivers were dammed by an up thrown crustal block.

During its geological history, Lake Victoria went through changes ranging from its present shallow depression, through to what may have been a series of much smaller lakes. Geological cores taken from its bottom show Lake Victoria has dried up completely at least three times since it formed. These drying cycles are probably related to past ice ages, which were times when precipitation declined globally.

Many mammal species live in the region of Lake Victoria, and some of these are closely associated with the lake itself and the nearby wetlands. Among these are the hippopotamus, African clawless otter, spotted-necked otter, marsh mongoose, sitatunga, bohor reedbuck, defassa waterbuck, cane rats, and giant otter shrew.


Lake Victoria and its wetlands have a large population of Nile crocodiles, as well as African helmeted turtles, variable mud turtles, and Williams’ mud turtle.  The Williams’ mud turtle is restricted to Lake Victoria and other lakes, rivers, and swamps in the upper Nile basin.

Lake Victoria formerly was very rich in fish, including many endemics, but a high percentage of these became extinct during the last 50 years. The main group in Lake Victoria is the haplochromine cichlids (Haplochromis sensu lato) with more than 500 species.

Many beaches are built along the many islands on Lake Victoria. These are greatly enjoyed by tourists who need total relaxation, researchers, photographers, primate lovers, water based tourism lovers, birdwatchers, and many other groups of tourists.


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