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16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

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There are so many fascinating facts about Lake Victoria. but what exactly makes this African lake so interesting? Read on to find out…

Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

Located in East Africa, Lake Victoria is known as the largest lake in Africa, and the largest tropical lake in the world. 

Victoria Lake stretches beyond 68,800 square kilometres and covers the countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. It also holds a lot of significance, with regard to the ecosystem, and its major role in the economy. 

So naturally, I got curious, and found out some fascinating facts about Lake Victoria that I’ll share with you today!

16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

There are many facts about Lake Victoria, that most of us are unaware about. Let’s check out each one in detail, and get one step closer to knowing more about the lake. 

1. Lake Victoria Is the Largest Lake in Africa 

Let’s start with one of the most popular facts about Lake Victoria. 

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in the entire African continent! It’s also the third-largest lake in the whole world. 

This lake has a size of 68,800 square kilometres and a basin area of 195,000 square kilometres. Moreover, it is spread across three nations in Africa – Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. If we compare its area to that of some countries, it is even more than that of Switzerland and Lithuania!

Tanzania covers 49% of the lake’s area, whereas Uganda covers 45% of it. Kenya only occupies 6% of the lake. 

2. The Naming of the Lake 

These facts are related to Lake Victoria and its naming. So, if you think that Lake Victoria is named after a queen, then you’re right about that!

The history behind the naming of the lake is worth knowing. Initially, the European explorers were trying to find the source of the river Nile. 

During their search, a British explorer, John Hanning Speke discovered Lake Victoria! He decided to honour Queen Victoria and name the lake after her. 

Also, did you know that in the last few years, East Africans have wanted to rename Lake Victoria to decolonize it?

3. Lake Victoria Is a Hotspot for Flora and Fauna!

16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

I cannot not talk about the flora and fauna in these facts about Lake Victoria.

Within Lake Victoria, there are over 500 species of fish. Most of these fish are haplochromine cichlids endemic to Lake Victoria. 

There are other fish species in the lake too, such as the Nile perch, catfish, and tilapia. Hence, it has one of the largest numbers of fish varieties, after Lake Malawi. 

Apart from the various fish, you’ll find many animals near the banks of Lake Victoria too. The most common animals are the hippopotamus, giant otter shrew, and marsh mongoose. 

There are exotic reptiles living near Lake Victoria, such as African helmeted turtles and Nile crocodiles!

4. Nile Originates From Lake Victoria 

We all know that the Nile is the longest river in the world. But, have you ever wondered where it originates from? These facts about Lake Victoria will answer your questions!

The River Nile is formed of two tributaries – the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The longer tributary, the White Nile, originates from Lake Victoria. Then, it merges with the Blue Nile, which originates from Lake Tana in Ethiopia.

Hence, you can say that the river Nile sort of originates from Lake Victoria.

5. Lake Victoria Has Many Other Names 

Before Lake Victoria was named after Queen Victoria, the locals used to call it Ukerewe.  

The word “Ukerewe” originates from the local language, Sukuma, of the African people of the region (the Sukuma people). 

Apart from this name, Lake Victoria also has other local names, such as Nam Lolwe (Dholuo dialect), Ziwa Victoria (Swahili), Nyanza (Kinyarwanda), and Nnalubaale (Luganda).

6. The Lake Generates Electricity!

Due to its vastness and water volume, Victoria Lake is used for generating hydroelectricity. In hydroelectricity, energy is generated through the power of water in motion. 

There are many hydroelectric power stations along the lake to generate electricity. Some of these stations are Nalubaale Power Station, Kiira Power Station, and Bujagali Power Station.  All of them are located on the Victoria Nile River in Uganda. 

There have been issues before with generating electricity through Victoria Lake, as Uganda has been accused of draining the lake.

7. Lake Victoria Is Not That Deep

Although Lake Victoria is spread across thousands of square kilometres, the water is not that deep, compared to other lakes.

Lake Victoria has a depth of 40 metres or 131 feet. In some regions, it also reaches 84 metres or 276 feet. For instance, if you compare its depth to other large lakes such as Lake Superior, having a depth of 406 metres, this lake is quite shallow.

However, Lake Victoria’s shallowness allows the sunlight to penetrate the water and is responsible for the rich ecosystem of fish species, algae, and other aquatic plants.

8. There Are More Than 3,000 Islets in Lake Victoria

16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

Islets, or isles are basically tiny islands amidst a water body. As Lake Victoria is pretty large, it has many islands and islets. Let’s take a look at some of the big islands in these facts about Lake Victoria.

The largest island of Lake Victoria is Ukerewe Island, located near the Mwanza region in Tanzania. There are various things to see on this island, such as the Ulwengo Cave, Rocky Hills, and the Ukerewe Ginnery

Another popular island of Lake Victoria is Ssese Island. This island is a huge archipelago consisting of 84 islands within it! Travellers can get to experience sparkly-blue and clear beaches, and lush-green tropical forests, and see many exotic animals! 

Some other lesser-known islands of Lake Victoria include Banda Island, Rusinga Island, and Ukora Island

These are just the major islands. In Lake Victoria, there are more than 3000 tiny islets too!

9. Water Hyacinth Is an Invasive Plant in Lake Victoria 

If you’re interested in botany, these facts about Lake Victoria and its plants are for you. 

The entire Lake Victoria is covered with an invasive plant species, known as the Water Hyacinth or Eichhornia crassipes. This plant belongs to South America but was somehow introduced in Lake Victoria because of human activity. 

In case you’re confused about what invasive plant means, just know that these plants were introduced to a specific ecosystem. However, they grow rapidly and compete for resources, such as sunlight and space. 

Therefore, Water Hyacinth has caused a lot of issues in Lake Victoria. Due to its rapid growth on the water’s surface, sunlight and oxygen can’t reach the aquatic plants and animals beneath the water. Additionally, it also poses threats to the fishing industry and water quality.

10. Lake Victoria Had One of the Worst Water Tragedies 

This is one of the tragic facts about Lake Victoria. 

On May 21, 1996, there was a Tanzanian passenger ferry, named MV Bukoba, that was sailing from Bukoba to Mwanza. However, the ferry got capsized in the Lake and led to the death of around 800 to 1000 people. 

Till now, there are no known causes of what caused the ferry to get capsized. But, some locals believe that the reason behind it is either the overloading of the ferry, irresponsible behaviour of the ferry officials, or the harsh weather

Also, nobody knew the official number of deaths as there was no proper documentation of the passengers. 

After this incident, the water transportation department got stringent about the rules and regulations for water transport on Lake Victoria. 

11. The Geological History of Lake Victoria 

Although Lake Victoria isn’t as old as other water bodies, it still formed at least 400,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period. 

Just like other water bodies, the creation of Lake Victoria is also due to the tectonic movements of the Earth. 

During that time, there was an East African Rift that caused the African plate to break into different tectonic blocks. Now, the cavity formed between these plates was filled with water, leading to the formation of Lake Victoria.

Along with the tectonic movements, volcanic eruptions have also contributed to the creation and composition of Lake Victoria’s basin. 

12. Lake Victoria Contributes a Lot to the Economy 

16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

Let’s take a look at the facts about Lake Victoria and how it contributes significantly to the economy. 

As Lake Victoria is the largest tropical lake in the world, it also has the largest freshwater fishery in the world. Every year, the lake produces over 1 million tons of fish and provides employment to 200,000 locals.

Lake Victoria is also an important trade route for many landlocked African countries, like Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. This way, they don’t have to go for the traditional roadways or railways for transportation. 

Additionally, Lake Victoria is quite popular among travellers too, due to its rich flora and fauna, and picturesque views. This also generates tourism income for African countries. 

13. Many Rivers Flow Into Lake Victoria 

This is one of the facts about Lake Victoria related to the rivers flowing in it. 

It’s not surprising that there are many major rivers that drain into Lake Victoria. Some of the important rivers include the Kagera River, Katonga, Yala, and Migori. Other rivers also include Mogusi, Nzoia, Sio, Nyando, and Sondu Miriu. 

These rivers are responsible for 20% of the water in Lake Victoria. The rest 80% is from direct precipitation.

Also, one of the astonishing facts about Lake Victoria is that it only has one river that comes out of it, the Victoria Nile. It leaves the lake near the Jinja province in Uganda.

14. Lake Victoria Is a Part of the African Great Lakes System

If you’re feeling confused about what is the African Great Lakes System, these facts about Lake Victoria can help you. 

The African Great Lakes System has many interconnected lakes, that are located in East Africa. 

The three main lakes that are a part of the African Great Lakes System are Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, and Lake Edward. These three lakes drain into White Nile. 

There are other lakes in the African Great Lakes System too, such as Lake Malawi, Lake Turkana, Lake Kivu, and Lake Tanganyika. 

Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kivu drain into the Congo Basin, whereas Lake Malawi drains into the Shire River. Note that Lake Turkana doesn’t drain into any river system!

Apart from the rivers, there are four countries that are a part of the Great Lakes region. These include Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), and Rwanda.

15. There Are Many Activities to Do in Lake Victoria

These facts about Lake Victoria are a must-know for all travellers planning to visit it. After all, there are many activities that will keep you entertained there. 

First, you can try your hand at fishing, as Lake Victoria has many freshwater fish species that you can capture! 

If fishing isn’t your thing, they also have boat tours and cruises along Lake Victoria. You can just sit back, and enjoy the fresh breeze and views of the lake.

The various regions of Lake Victoria are home to over 200 species. So, you can try birdwatching too. Or, you can explore the various beaches and islands, offered by Lake Victoria.

16. Lake Victoria Lost Its Water Several Times!

16 Fascinating Facts About Lake Victoria 

Here’s one of the surprising facts about Lake Victoria.

According to research, Lake Victoria has lost its water at least twice in the last 100,000 years. There are many reasons behind it, and one of them is its location. 

As Lake Victoria is located near the equator, there’s plenty of sunshine. This leads to excessive evaporation, which might’ve drained the lake.

Scientists suspect that the lake might lose its water again in the upcoming years, due to factors like climate change, improper human practices, deforestation, and invasive water species.

Further Reading – Facts About Lake Victoria

With its beautiful waters, expansive area, vibrant flora and fauna, and economic significance, facts about Lake Victoria deserve to be discussed!

So, I hope that you got to know everything that you wanted to, in these facts about Lake Victoria. 

If you want to know more about such places or related things, you can read my other articles as mentioned below!

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