largest lake in Africa
Lake Victoria borders the countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. With a
surface area of 26,828 square miles, it is the
second largest freshwater lake in the world
(after Lake Superior). It has an average depth of
130 feet, and a maximum depth of 276 feet. The
lake's surface is 3,723 feet above sea level.
Approximately 80 percent of the lake's water
comes from rain, with the other 20 percent coming
from rivers and streams. The Kagera is the
largest river flowing into the lake. The White
Nile (called the "Victoria Nile" where
it leaves the lake) is the only outflowing river.
The Victoria Nile once flowed over Ripon Falls
just north of the lake, but the falls have since
been obscured by the Nalubaale Dam (formerly
known as the Owens Falls Dam). The lake supports
Africa's largest inland fishery, with cichlids
being by far the most common variety.
Geologically, Lake Victoria is relatively
young -- about 400,000 years old -- and it formed
when westward-flowing rivers were dammed by an
upthrown crustal block. Geological studies have
shown that the lake has dried up completely a few
times in the past, with the last time being
approximately 17,300 years ago.
Arab traders were the first to record the
discovery of the lake; a map of the lake was
created by them dating back to approximately 1160
AD. The first European to record sighting the
lake was John Hanning Speke
(in 1858), and it was he who named it in honor of
Victoria of England.
John Hanning Speke
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