Largest Lakes in the World

You'd think it was the ocean

A lake is defined as a body of water surrounded by land, separate from any surrounding rivers or outlets, that is not the ocean. There is no limit on size or salinity. These are the only criteria we've chosen for determining our rankings. As a result, the Caspian Sea is the world's largest lake by area and by volume; at more than 5 times the size of the next largest lake, it truly deserve the designation "sea".

If we restrict the rankings to fresh bodies of water, we get two different results. By volume of water, the world's largest lake is actually Lake Baikal in Russia. The world's deepest lake has a proportionally large volume. We are ranking by their surface area. By this metric, the largest freshwater lake would be Lake Superior in the U.S. Lake Huron, another of the Great Lakes, is also in the Top 5.

The following table lists the large lakes of the world according to size and including information such as name, location, area, length, and depth. Read on to learn more.

 AreaLengthMaximum depth
Name and locationsq. mi.kmmi.kmft.m
Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan-Russia-
Superior, U.S.-Canada31,82082,4143836161,333406
Victoria, Tanzania-Uganda26,82869,48520032227082
Huron, U.S.-Canada23,01059,596247397750229
Michigan, U.S.22,40058,016321517923281
Aral, Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan13,00033,80026642822368
Tanganyika, Tanzania-Congo12,70032,8934206764,7081,435
Baikal, Russia12,16231,5003956365,7121,741
Great Bear, Canada12,00031,08023237327082
Nyasa, Malawi-Mozambique-Tanzania11,60030,0443605792,316706
Great Slave, Canada11,17028,9302984802,015614
Chad,2 Chad-Niger-Nigeria9,94625,760237
Erie, U.S.-Canada9,93025,71924138821064
Winnipeg, Canada9,09423,55326442520462
Ontario, U.S.-Canada7,52019,477193311778237
Balkhash, Kazakhstan7,11518,4283766058727
Ladoga, Russia7,00018,130124200738225
Onega, Russia3,8199,891154248361110
Titicaca, Bolivia-Peru3,1418,1351101771,214370
Nicaragua, Nicaragua3,0898,00111017723070
Athabaska, Canada3,0587,920208335407124
Rudolf, Kenya2,4736,405154248
Reindeer, Canada2,4446,330152245
Eyre, South Australia2,40036,216130209variesvaries
Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan2,3946,2001131822,297700
Urmia,2 Iran2,3176,001811304915
Torrens, South Australia2,2005,698130209
Vänern, Sweden2,1415,5458714032298
Winnipegosis, Canada2,0865,4031522455918
Mobutu Sese Seko, Uganda2,0465,29910016118055
Nettilling, Baffin Island, Canada1,9505,05170113
Nipigon, Canada1,8704,84372116
Manitoba, Canada1,8174,706140225227
Great Salt, U.S.1,8004,6627512115–255–8
Kioga, Uganda1,7004,4035080about 309
NOTE: Area more than 1,700 sq. mi.
1. The Caspian Sea is called “sea” because the Romans, finding it salty, named it Mare Caspium. Many geographers, however, consider it a lake because it is land-locked.
2. Figures represent high-water data.
3. Varies with the rainfall of the wet season. It has been reported to dry up almost completely on occasion.
Oceans and SeasWorld GeographyPrincipal Rivers of the World
World Geography
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