Top 10 World’s Largest Freshwater Lakes

Lake Superior in North America is the world’s biggest freshwater lake. The vast majority of lakes on the planet are freshwater, and the vast majority of lakes are in the Northern Hemisphere. Most lakes have a natural outflow in the form of a river or stream, but some do not and instead lose water due to evaporation. There are thousands of freshwater lakes on the planet. Canada alone contains almost 2 million lakes, with 31,750 of them being more than 1.2 square miles in size. There are 122 lakes covering at least 390 square miles. The following is a list of the largest freshwater lakes on the planet.

World's Largest Freshwater Lakes
World’s Largest Freshwater Lakes ( Image Credit: Flickr )

Largest Freshwater Lakes in the World

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in North America, as well as the world’s largest by surface area and third-largest by volume. It covers around 31,700 square kilometres of land. The lake is shared by the Canadian province of Ontario as well as the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the United States. Lake Superior has a volume of 2,900 cubic miles. The lake is 350 miles long, 160 miles wide, and 483 feet deep on average.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is an African Great Lake named after Queen Victoria. With a surface area of around 26,600 square miles, it is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by area. With a volume of 2,700 cubic miles, Lake Victoria is the seventh largest continental lake. Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania share the lake, which receives the majority of its water from rain. Victoria has a maximum length of 209 miles, a width of 160 miles, and an average depth of 130 feet.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron is one of North America’s Great Lakes, formed by the merger of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It is shared by the Canadian province of Ontario and the state of Michigan in the United States. With a surface area of 23,007 square miles, Lake Huron is the second-largest Great Lake. It may be up to 206 miles long, 183 miles wide, and 195 feet deep, with an average volume of 850 cubic miles.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is entirely inside the borders of the United States. With a capacity of 1,180 cubic miles, it is the second largest Great Lake by volume. In contrast, Michigan boasts the world’s fourth largest lake by surface area, averaging 22,404 square miles. The lake’s greatest length is 307 miles, its maximum width is 118 miles, and its maximum depth is 923 feet. Lake Michigan is shared by several states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

Other Notably Large Fresh Water Lakes

Tanganyika, Baikal, Great Bear Lake, Malawi, and Great Slave Lake are some of the world’s other large freshwater lakes. These lakes cover an area of almost 10,000 square kilometres.

Ranking Freshwater Lakes by Volume

The volume or surface area of freshwater lakes is used to classify them. Some of the bigger lakes, in terms of surface area, are shallow and have little water. Despite having the largest surface area, Lake Superior ranks third in volume after Baikal and Tanganyika. Lakes are often assessed by surface area since their volume varies throughout the year. Because of shifting volumes, lake volume information varies from source to source.

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What is the Largest Freshwater Lake in the World?

In terms of surface area, Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake. It has a total area of 31,700 square miles. Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake, having a total surface area of 26,600 square miles.

World’s Largest Freshwater Lakes

RankLakeContinentSize (surface area in square miles)
1SuperiorNorth America31700 sq mi
2VictoriaAfrica26600 sq mi
3HuronNorth America23000 sq mi
4MichiganNorth America22000 sq mi
5TanganyikaAfrica12700 sq mi
6BaikalEurasia12248 sq mi
7Great Bear LakeNorth America12028 sq mi
8MalawiAfrica11400 sq mi
9Great Slave LakeNorth America10500 sq mi
10ErieNorth America9910 sq mi
11WinnipegNorth America9465 sq mi
12OntarioNorth America7320 sq mi
13LadogaEurasia6800 sq mi

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