Lakes of the World Lake Victoria

About Lake Victoria the largest lake in Africa, history, size, and geography of the third largest lake in the world.



Africa's Lake Victoria is the world's third largest lake.

Lying in Uganda to the north, Tanzania in the south, and Kenya in the northeast, Victoria is 250 mi. long and 150 mi. wide (26,828 sq.mi.). It is broad and shallow, with a 2,000-mi. shoreline.

Its main tributary is the Kagera River, a remote headwater of the Nile River. Victoria has only one outlet, the Victoria Nile, where since 1954 a huge hydroelectric complex at Jinja has supplied Uganda and Egypt with power and water.

Victoria occupies a bowl on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, a mighty earth furrow in eastern Africa. The lake contains numerous inlets and islands; the northwest corner alone has 62 islands, called the Sese Archipelago.

Many ports, including Entebbe, Uganda, dot the shoreline. Most villages on the lake dedicate themselves to fishing and agriculture. Steamer service connects most of them. Rainfall is excessively plentiful and the equatorial climate is hot enough to discourage white settlers. Over 200 species of fish, the crocodile, and the hippopotamus call Lake Victoria home.

Englishman John H. Speke was the first white man to find the lake, in 1858. He named it after Queen Victoria. He returned in 1862, mapped the western shoreline, and discovered that Victoria was the Nile's head reservoir. American explorer Henry Stanley surveyed Victoria in 1875.

Between 1900 and 1906, the sleeping sickness killed more than 20,000 people and depopulated the Sese Archipelago. Not until 1920, when scientists brought the tsetse fly under control, could the archipelago be rehabilitated.

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