Lake Tanganyika is a large lake in Central Africa that is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and the second deepest, the Lake Tanganyika is situated within the Western Rift of the Great Rift Valley. It is the largest rift lake in Africa and the second largest lake by surface area on the continent.
It is the deepest lake in Africa and holds the greatest volume of fresh water. It extends for 410 miles (673 km) in a general north-south direction and averages 50 km in width. Much of the lake's coastline is high escarpment, falling directly into the lake.
Since the surface of the lake lies 2,515 feet above sea level and it is 4,710 feet (1,470 m) deep, the lake bottom is 2,195 feet below sea level.
The lake covers 32,900 km², with a shoreline of 1,828 km and a mean depth of 570 m and a maximum depth of 1,470 m (4,823 ft.) (in the northern basin). It holds an estimated 18,900 km³ (4500 cubic miles). It has an average surface temperature of 25°C and a pH averaging 8.4. Additionally, beneath the 500 meters of water there is approximately 4,500 meters of sediment overlaying the rock floor, leading scientists to estimate its age at twenty million years, though not always in the same shape it is in now.
Lake Tanganyika is home to more than two thousand plant and animal species, and is one of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world. About six hundred of these species are endemic to the Lake Tanganyika watershed, a result of its long period of isolation. These include brilliantly colored cichlid fish, gastropods with the appearance of marine snails, and so on. Lake Tanganyika is thus an important biological resource for the study of speciation in evolution. The lake holds at least 250 species of cichlids and 150 non-cichlid species, most of which live along the shoreline down to a depth of approximately 600 feet.