The Lake Victoria: The World’s Largest Tropical Lake
Nestled in the heart of East Africa, Lake Victoria is the largest tropical lake in the world spanning the borders of three countries – Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The largest part of this freshwater body is found in Uganda and all together it Spans approximately 68,800 km2, Lake Victoria is an integral part of East Africa’s rich cultural heritage and natural biodiversity and famously known as the source of the Nile.
It was discovered that Lake Victoria was formed about 400,000 years ago by the process called down-warping of land between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley whereby westward-flowing rivers were dammed by an upthrown crustal block, reversing their flow backwards into the down-warped land.
In 1858, the search by Europeans for the source of the Nile led to the sighting of the lake by the British explorer John Hanning Speke who named the lake in honour of Queen Victoria of England while a detailed survey of the lake was made by Sir William Garstin in 1901 however the lake was formerly known to the Arabs as Ukerewe and to the Baganda as Nalubaale.
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes and it is the continent’s largest lake, the largest tropical lake in the World, and the second largest freshwater lake in the world in terms of surface area.
Numerous important rivers flow into Lake Victoria such as the River Mara, Kagera, Yala, Nyando, Bukora and Katonga while the White Nile is the only river flowing out of the Lake Victoria.
Today, Lake Victoria with its resources support the economies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda while its Nile River support numerous countries where it passes such as Egypt.
The lake provides a greater percentage of hydropower for Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, and also water supply for major urban centres like Kampala, Kigali, Mwanza, and Kisumu.
Wildlife on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is home to over 500 species of fish, and it is famed for its diverse fishery.
The most common fish species are the Nile perch and the tilapia, that have attracted fishing industries and numerous communities while depending on the lake for survival.
Lake Victoria’s rich biodiversity is a testament behind the delicate balance of its ecosystem supporting an array of wildlife including Shoebill stork, African helmeted turtle, Freshwater crab, Giant Outter Shrew, Marsh Mongoose, hippos.
And various reptiles like the Nile crocodile whereas its vast shoreline harbors dense forests and wetlands, providing habitat and breeding grounds for various birds and animal species.