Lake Victoria & Mwanza

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Lake Victoria is a huge lake located in east central Africa along the equator and borders the countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. On this page is a list of interesting facts about Lake Victoria including just how big it is, who the lake is named after, and when the lake was formed. This information is written for both kids and adults.

Lake Victoria Facts

It is Africa's largest lake and has a surface area of 26,600 square miles (68,800 square kilometers).

It is the largest tropical lake in the world.

It is the world's second largest freshwater lake measured by surface area. The only larger freshwater lake is Lake Superior in North America.

This body of water is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Lake Victoria is about 400,000 years old.

The average depth is 130 feet (40 meters) with the deepest point being 276 feet (84 meters).

Approximately 80 percent of the lakes water comes from rain. The other 20 percent comes from small streams flowing into the lake.

Geological studies have shown that the lake has dried up completely a few times in the past. The last time was approximately 17,300 years ago.

The Kagera River is the largest river that flows into the lake.

Two rivers flow out of the lake. They are the White Nile (called the "Victoria Nile" where it leaves the lake), and the Katonga River.


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.

John Hanning Speke was the first European to sight the lake. This occurred in 1858 on an exploration to explore central Africa. He named the lake after the queen of England at the time, Queen Victoria.

In 1858, John Hanning Speke, the first European to travel to the lake, claimed that it was the source of the Nile River. This claim caused a great debate in the scientific community before being proven correct.