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Lakes of the World

Great Lakes, USA-Canada


A seriessss of interconnected fresh water lakes, the Great Lakes consists of five fresh water bodies, namely, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Together, they form the largest group of freshwater bodies on the Earth. The lakes are around 10,000 years old and contain about 21% of the Earth’s surface fresh water. Out of the five lakes Lake Superior is the largest continental lake in the world (area) and Lake Michigan is the largest lake within one country.


The Great Lakes were used for drinking water supply and this was collectively administered by state and provincial governments adjacent to the lakes. Now, the lakes are a major water transport corridor used for shipping of bulk goods. Tourism and recreation activities also comprise a major industry from this lake. The fishing industry is approximately worth $4 billion with over 250 fish species, 40 million people are provided drinking water through these lakes and the water is also used for power generation. Commercial shipping takes place of 200 million tons, 90% iron order and 58% of the automobiles in the US and Canada is manufactured in the Great Lakes Basin.



Lake Victoria, Uganda


Lake Victoria is one of the largest lakes in the African continent. It was discovered by John Hanning Speke and named after Queen Victoria in 1858. Having a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres makes it the largest tropical lake in the world. The lake receives water perennially from rain, storm water and a number of small streams. The lake supports Africa’s largest inland fishery. It was estimated in 1983 that there were over 12000 boats on the lake and this number rose to more than 51,000 by 2004..


It is polluted mainly by raw sewage discharge, domestic and industrial waste and fertilizers and chemicals from agriculture. Also, by introducing fresh water fish species like Nile perch, the lake ecosystem has changed leading to extinction of hundreds of native cichlids. Water hyacinth is another menace suffered by the lake. Due to the pollution inflow (sewage and industrial effluent) into the lake, the nutrient levels have increased leading to massive growth of water hyacinth.

Lake Baikal, Russia


Lake Baikal, in Siberia, Russia is the greatest freshwater lake in terms of volume and contains approximately 20% of the world’s surface fresh water. The lake houses over 1,700 species of plants and animals of which many can be found nowhere else in the world. Thus, the lake has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1996). The lake holds importance for tourism as well as fishing activities.


It is said to be one of the world’s oldest lakes and in 2007, the government declared it as a special economic zone. There are various hotels and resorts built or coming up around the lake.


Lake Titicaca


This large freshwater lake is situated in the Andes Mountains on the border of Bolivia and Peru. It is the largest lake in South America in terms of volume. It receives water from 27 rivers in its basin and the outflow is mainly into the Desaguadero River. There are various islands in the lake made of floating reeds and have become an important tourist attraction for this lake. It is also home to a large population of water birds and was given the status of a Ramsar Site in 1998. 90% of the fish species in the lake are endemic.


Fishing is a major economic activity taking place in the lake. The main species cultivated are Karachi and Ipsi. The water level of the lake has been reducing since 2000, mainly due to shortened rainy season in the area. Pollution is also an increasing concern as the cities in the catchment are growing rapidly, and sometimes urban services cannot compete with the growth.

Lake Eyre


Also called Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, this lake is at the lowest point in Australia (15m below msl). Flooding occurs every three years of approximately 1.5m and once in a decade goes up to about 4m. The lake has been identified as an Imprtant Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. During flooding, many birds such as Banded Stilt, Australian Pelican and so on come to the lake for breeding.


The lake is seasonal and the amount of water entering the lake depends on the rain received by the region. The lake receives very little water due to its low location. Although there is not much activity taking place in the lake, the basin holds great economic importance for mining and petroleum industries.................................................................