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.

  Area Length Maximum depth
Name and location sq. mi. km mi. km ft. m
Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan-Russia-
Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran1
152,239 394,299 745 1,199 3,104 946
Superior, U.S.-Canada 31,820 82,414 383 616 1,333 406
Victoria, Tanzania-Uganda 26,828 69,485 200 322 270 82
Huron, U.S.-Canada 23,010 59,596 247 397 750 229
Michigan, U.S. 22,400 58,016 321 517 923 281
Aral, Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan 13,000 33,800 266 428 223 68
Tanganyika, Tanzania-Congo 12,700 32,893 420 676 4,708 1,435
Baikal, Russia 12,162 31,500 395 636 5,712 1,741
Great Bear, Canada 12,000 31,080 232 373 270 82
Nyasa, Malawi-Mozambique-Tanzania 11,600 30,044 360 579 2,316 706
Great Slave, Canada 11,170 28,930 298 480 2,015 614
Chad,2 Chad-Niger-Nigeria 9,946 25,760 23 7
Erie, U.S.-Canada 9,930 25,719 241 388 210 64
Winnipeg, Canada 9,094 23,553 264 425 204 62
Ontario, U.S.-Canada 7,520 19,477 193 311 778 237
Balkhash, Kazakhstan 7,115 18,428 376 605 87 27
Ladoga, Russia 7,000 18,130 124 200 738 225
Onega, Russia 3,819 9,891 154 248 361 110
Titicaca, Bolivia-Peru 3,141 8,135 110 177 1,214 370
Nicaragua, Nicaragua 3,089 8,001 110 177 230 70
Athabaska, Canada 3,058 7,920 208 335 407 124
Rudolf, Kenya 2,473 6,405 154 248
Reindeer, Canada 2,444 6,330 152 245
Eyre, South Australia 2,4003 6,216 130 209 varies varies
Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan 2,394 6,200 113 182 2,297 700
Urmia,2 Iran 2,317 6,001 81 130 49 15
Torrens, South Australia 2,200 5,698 130 209
Vänern, Sweden 2,141 5,545 87 140 322 98
Winnipegosis, Canada 2,086 5,403 152 245 59 18
Mobutu Sese Seko, Uganda 2,046 5,299 100 161 180 55
Nettilling, Baffin Island, Canada 1,950 5,051 70 113
Nipigon, Canada 1,870 4,843 72 116
Manitoba, Canada 1,817 4,706 140 225 22 7
Great Salt, U.S. 1,800 4,662 75 121 15–25 5–8
Kioga, Uganda 1,700 4,403 50 80 about 30 9
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 Seas World Geography Principal Rivers of the World
World Geography
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