African Great Lakes

The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift. They include Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world in terms of surface area; and Lake Tanganyika, the world's second largest in volume as well as the second deepest. The term Greater Lakes is also used, less commonly, for some of them.

The African Great Lakes are divided among three different catchments (river basins), and a number, such as Lake Turkana, have internal drainage systems. The following, in order of size from largest to smallest, are included on most lists of the African Great Lakes:

  • Lake Victoria
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Lake Malawi
  • Lake Turkana
  • Lake Albert
  • Lake Kivu
  • Lake Edward

Some call only Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, and Lake Edward the Great Lakes, as they are the only three that empty into the White Nile. Lake Kyoga is part of Great Lakes system, but is not itself considered a Great Lake, based on size alone. Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kivu both empty into the Congo River system, while Lake Malawi is drained by the Shire River into the Zambezi. Lake Turkana has no outlet.

Two other lakes close to Lake Tanganyika do not appear on the lists despite being larger than Edward and Kivu: Lake Rukwa and Lake Mweru.

Because the term is a loose one, it is often preferable to use other categorizations such as African Rift Valley Lakes or East African Lakes.

Read more about African Great Lakes:  African Great Lakes Region

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