While most people could tell you the highest mountain in the world is Mount Everest and the longest river in the world is the Nile, not many people know much about the biggest lakes around the world.
1 – Lakes Huron and Michigan
The largest lake in the world is the combination of Lakes Huron and Michigan in the Great Lakes region of North America, straddling the border between Canada and the United States. Although these two bodies of water are considered separate by name, they are geographically linked and are, in fact, one singular lake. It is 45,445 square miles in area and 925 feet deep at its deepest point.
There is plenty on offer in this area and plenty to attract visitors, whatever their interests may be. Firstly, the natural beauty surrounding these lakes is outstanding and offers excellent opportunities for hiking and cycling throughout. In addition, there are plenty of water sports to partake in across the surface of the lakes for those seeking thrills and excitement. Furthermore, major cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee also lie on the shores of Lake Michigan.
2 – Lake Superior
The second largest lake is Lake Superior, located very close to Huron-Michigan and part of the same Great Lakes region. It too sits across the Canadian-American border, but is very much one singular body of water and therefore there are claims that Lake Superior is the truly world’s largest. With an area of 31,820 square miles and a maximum depth of 1,332 feet, it is certainly a close competitor.
As with its local counterparts, the surroundings of Lake Superior offer a wide range of different attractions, with plenty to do for all visitors. One such attraction of considerable appeal is the Great Lakes Circle Tour, which is a scenic driving route that links all the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River, providing a perfect way to witness everything this region has to offer.
3 – Lake Victoria
The third largest lake in the world is Lake Victoria, which does not lie in North America but rather in Africa and provides the source for one branch of the Nile, the world’s longest river. The shores of Lake Victoria rest in three different nations, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, which offers great diversity all around its circumference. It is 26,600 square miles in surface area and has a maximum depth of 276 feet.
Lake Victoria has extraordinary biodiversity, with a vast range of fish species present in its tropical freshwater. In addition, it supports a huge amount of life in the land that surrounds it, including a vast range of classic African safari species such as elephants and giraffes. Ferries ply their trade across the lake, travelling between ports in all three bordering nations and all offering a quite unique voyage.
4 – Lake Tanganyika
To the south-west of Victoria lies the world’s fourth-largest lake: Lake Tanganyika. It has some of its shoreline in Tanzania but also forms borders with Burundi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a vast surface area of 12,700 square miles and, with a maximum depth of 4,280 feet, is the second-deepest lake on Earth.
The lake flows into the Congo River system and eventually out into the Atlantic Ocean, truly placing it at the heart of Africa and it has a fascinating history to reflect this crucial position. During the First World War, it was the site of a major battle between colonial forces from Britain, Germany and Belgium and saw naval skirmishes as well as bombing runs against the surrounding landscape. In addition, during the 1950s, infamous revolutionary Che Guevara trained Congolese rebels on the shores of Tanganyika.
5 – Lake Baikal
In fifth place is Lake Baikal in Russia. At 12,200 square miles, it is the largest lake in the world to share its borders with only one nation and it is also the world’s deepest lake, with a depth of 5,371 feet at its deepest point. Interestingly, it is also widely viewed as the world’s oldest lake.
Despite its fairly remote and cold location, Lake Baikal has a growing tourist industry. It is known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ and resort towns such as Listvyanka, with a wide range of hotels and other visitor amenities, have been drawing an increasing number of travellers. The lake is a now a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site and long-distance hiking trails, such as that created on the northern shore, provide key attractions for many.
6 – Great Bear Lake
The sixth largest lake in the world is Great Bear Lake, situated in the Northwest Territories of Canada and straddling the Arctic Circle, thus placing it further north than its other large North American counterparts. It has a total surface area of 12,000 square miles and a maximum depth of 1,463 feet.
Unsurprisingly, Great Bear Lake earned its name from the large population of grizzly and black bears that reside on its shores and in the surrounding areas. Rare and fascinating wildlife such as these provide an attraction of their own and the environs of rich evergreen forest and, further north, tundra are of great interest to casual visitors and expert researchers alike.
7 – Lake Malawi
In seventh place, lies Lake Malawi. Despite its name, it not only borders with Malawi, but also with Tanzania and Mozambique. It has a total surface area of 11,600 square miles and a maximum depth of 2,316 feet. It contains more fish species than any other lake on Earth, making it of especial biological and ecological significance and an attraction in itself.
8 – Great Slave Lake
At eight is the Great Slave Lake, which is situated in Canada. It has a total surface area of 11,170 square miles and a maximum depth of 2,014 feet, making it the deepest lake on the North American continent. One of the key attractions on the northern shore of this lake is the city of Yellowknife, which is the capital of the vast Canadian Northwest Territories.
9 – Lake Erie
The ninth largest lake in the world is another of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie and, like its fellows, it straddles the US-Canada border. Its total surface area measures 9,930 square miles and a maximum depth of 210 feet means it is the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Erie drains by way of the Niagara River and therefore provides much of the water volume that plunges over the brink of the hugely impressive Niagara Falls.
10 – Lake Winnipeg
At number ten and concluding this list is Lake Winnipeg. It is located in Canada and has a surface area of 9,465 square miles with a maximum depth of 118 feet. The southern shore of the lake draws many visitors to its numerous pleasure beaches while travelling across the surface on a ship, navigating between several different undeveloped islands, provides an unparalleled glimpse of traditional North American scenery.