‘Nam Lolwe’ in Luo and ‘Victoria Nyanza’ in Buntu, Lake Victoria was named after Queen Victoria by an officer of the British Indian Army, John Hanning Speke. With an enormous size of 69,480 square kilometres, Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. Located in Tanzania and Uganda with a small portion extending into Kenya.
Lake Victoria is also the world’s second biggest freshwater lake by surface area, preceded by Lake Superior in North America. In regards to the volume of Lake Victoria, it is the ninth biggest continental lake, with approximately 2,750 cubic kilometres of water.
The Lake gets its water mainly from direct precipitation and thousands of tiny streams. The biggest stream running into this lake is the Kagera River, the mouth of which is located on the Lake’s western shore. Two rivers exit from the Lake: the White Nile (which becomes ‘Victoria Nile’ as it leaves the lake) flows out at Jinja, Uganda on the lake’s northern shore, and the Katonga River which flows out at Luyaka on the western shore, joining the lake to Lake George.
Numerous archipelagos can be found within the Lake, along with plenty of reefs that lie just beneath the water’s surface. Lake Victoria is renowned for its abundance of fish, which are popularly exported by local fishermen. The Lake holds more than 200 fish species which all make significant contributions to the economy.
In the south, the Lake is bordered by 90 metre high cliffs that are backed by the papyrus and ambatch swamps that make up the delta of the Kagera River. The Lake’s water drains through a thin channel into the Kavirondo Gulf, which is about 25 kilometres wide and runs all the way into Kisumu, Kenya.
Most of the inhabitants of this region are Bantu-speaking. A couple of million people reside within 80 kilometres of the Lake Victoria area, which is one of the most highly populated regions in all of Africa. There are numerous cities that have been constructed right on, or within very close proximity to Victoria’s northern coast. Both Kampala and Entebbe benefit greatly from the simple access to water for fishing.
In the north-western corner of the Lake lies a Sese archipelago, which is a chain of 62 islands enclosed within Lake Victoria. One of the biggest islands, Ukerewe, rises more than 200 metres over the Lake’s surface and is home to many locals. Lake Victoria boasts incredible scenery and offers tourists an unforgettable travelling experience.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons