|Primary inflows||Kagera River|
|Primary outflows||White Nile (river) (known as the "Victoria Nile" as it flows out of the lake)|
|Catchment area||184,000 km2 (71,000 sq mi)
238,900 km2 (92,200 sq mi) basin
|Max. length||337 km (209 mi)|
|Max. width||250 km (160 mi)|
|Surface area||68,800 km2 (26,600 sq mi)|
|Average depth||40 m (130 ft)|
|Max. depth||83 m (272 ft)|
|Water volume||2,750 km3 (660 cu mi)|
|Shore length1||3,440 km (2,140 mi)|
|Surface elevation||1,133 m (3,717 ft)|
|Islands||84 (Ssese Islands, Uganda)|
Kendu Bay, Kenya
Homa Bay, Kenya
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
Lake Victoria (Nam Lolwe in Luo; Victoria Nyanza in Bantu ) is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake.
With a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres (26,600 sq mi), Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and it is the largest tropical lake in the world. Lake Victoria is the world's 2nd largest freshwater lake by surface area; only Lake Superior in North America is larger. In terms of its volume, Lake Victoria is the world's ninth largest continental lake, and it contains about 2,750 cubic kilometers (2.2 billion acre-feet) of water.
Lake Victoria receives its water primarily from direct precipitation and thousands of small streams. The largest stream flowing into this lake is the Kagera River, the mouth of which lies on the lake's western shore. Two rivers leave the lake, the White Nile (known as the "Victoria Nile" as it leaves the lake), flows out at Jinja, Uganda on the lake's north shore, and the Katonga River flows out at Lukaya on the western shore connecting the lake to Lake George.
Lake Victoria occupies a shallow depression in Africa and has a maximum depth of 84 m (276 ft) and an average depth of 40 m (130 ft). Its catchment area covers 184,000 square kilometers (71,040 sq mi). The lake has a shoreline of 4,828 km (3,000 mi), with islands constituting 3.7% of this length, and is divided among three countries: Kenya (6% or 4,100 km2 or 1,600 sq mi), Uganda (45% or 31,000 km2 or 12,000 sq mi) and Tanzania (49% or 33,700 km2 or 13,000 sq mi).
Lake Victoria has, during its geological history, gone through changes ranging from its present shallow depression, through to what may have been a series of much smaller lakes. Geological cores taken from its bottom show Lake Victoria has dried up completely at least three times since it formed. These drying cycles are probably related to past ice ages, which were times when precipitation declined globally. Lake Victoria last dried out 17,300 years ago, and it refilled beginning about 14,700 years ago. Geologically, Lake Victoria is relatively young – about 400,000 years old – and it formed when westward-flowing rivers were dammed by an upthrown crustal block.
This geological history probably contributed to the dramatic cichlid speciation that characterises its ecology, as well as that of other African Great Lakes, although some researchers dispute this, arguing while Lake Victoria was at its lowest between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago, and it dried out at least once during that time, there is no evidence of remnant ponds or marshes persisting within the desiccated basin. If such features existed, then they would have been small, shallow, turbid, and/or saline, and therefore markedly different from the lake to which today's species are adapted.
Hydrology and limnology 
Lake Victoria receives almost all (80%) of its water from direct precipitation. Average evaporation on the lake is between 2.0 and 2.2 metres (6.6 and 7.2 ft) per year, almost double the precipitation of riparian areas. In the Kenya Sector, the main influent rivers are the Sio, Nzoia, Yala, Nyando, Sondu Miriu, Mogusi and the Migori. Combined, these rivers contribute far more water to the lake than does the largest single inflowing river, the Kagera, which enters the lake from the west. The lake outflows into the White Nile and the Katonga River, both part of the upper Nile river system.
The lake exhibits eutrophic conditions. In 1990–1991, oxygen concentrations in the mixed layer were higher than in 1960–1961, with nearly continuous oxygen supersaturation in surface waters. Oxygen concentrations in hypolimnetic waters (i.e. the layer of water that lies below the thermocline, is noncirculating, and remains perpetually cold) were lower in 1990–1991 for a longer period than in 1960–1961, with values of less than 1 mg per litre (< 0.4 gr/cu ft) occurring in water as shallow as 40 metres (130 ft) compared with a shallowest occurrence of greater than 50 metres (160 ft) in 1961. The changes in oxygenation are considered consistent with measurements of higher algal biomass and productivity. These changes have arisen for multiple reasons: successive burning within its basin, soot and ash from which has been deposited over the lake's wide area; from increased nutrient inflows via rivers, and from increased pollution associated with settlement along its shores.
The extinction of cichlids in the genus Haplochromis has also been blamed on the lake's eutrophication. The fertility of tropical waters depends on the rate at which nutrients can be brought into solution. The influent rivers of Lake Victoria provide few nutrients to the lake in relation to its size. Because of this, most of Lake Victoria's nutrients are thought to be locked up in lake-bottom deposits. By itself, this vegetative matter decays slowly. Animal flesh decays considerably faster, however, so the fertility of the lake is dependent on the rate at which these nutrients can be taken up by fish and other organisms. There is little doubt that Haplochromis played an important role in returning detritus and plankton back into solution. With some 80% of Haplochromis species feeding off detritus, and equally capable of feeding off one another, they represented a tight, internal recycling system, moving nutrients and biomass both vertically and horizontally through the water column, and even out of the lake via predation by humans and terrestrial animals and humans. The removal of Haplochromis, however, may have contributed to the increasing frequency of algal blooms, which may in turn be responsible for mass fish kills.
Environmental issues 
A number of environmental issues are associated with Lake Victoria.
Water hyacinth invasion 
Pollution of Lake Victoria is mainly due to discharge of raw sewage into the lake, dumping of domestic and industrial waste, and fertiliser and chemicals from farms. Raw sewage decomposes more cleanly in soil, and should be directed back to the ground rather than into a drinking-water source.
The Lake Victoria basin is one of the most densely populated rural areas in the world. Its shores are dotted with cities and towns, including Kisumu, Kisii, and Homa Bay in Kenya; Kampala, Jinja, and Entebbe in Uganda; and Bukoba, Mwanza and Msoma in Tanzania. These cities and towns also are home to many factories that discharge their waste directly into the lake and its influent rivers. These urban areas also discharge raw sewage into the river, increasing its eutrophication that in turn is helping to sustain the invasive water hyacinth.
Exploration history 
The first recorded information about Lake Victoria comes from Arab traders plying the inland routes in search of gold, ivory, other precious commodities, and slaves. An excellent map, known as the Al Idrisi map from the calligrapher who developed it and dated from the 1160s, clearly depicts an accurate representation of Lake Victoria, and attributes it as the source of the Nile.
The lake was first sighted by a European in 1858 when the British explorer John Hanning Speke reached its southern shore while on his journey with Richard Francis Burton to explore central Africa and locate the Great Lakes. Believing he had found the source of the Nile on seeing this "vast expanse of open water" for the first time, Speke named the lake after Queen Victoria. Burton, who had been recovering from illness at the time and resting further south on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, was outraged that Speke claimed to have proved his discovery to have been the true source of the Nile, which Burton regarded as still unsettled. A very public quarrel ensued, which not only sparked a great deal of intense debate within the scientific community of the day, but also much interest by other explorers keen to either confirm or refute Speke's discovery.
The famous British explorer and missionary David Livingstone failed in his attempt to verify Speke's discovery, instead pushing too far west and entering the River Congo system instead. Ultimately, the Welsh-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley, on an expedition funded by the New York Herald newspaper, confirmed the truth of Speke's discovery, circumnavigating the lake and reporting the great outflow at Ripon Falls on the lake's northern shore.
Nalubaale Dam 
The only outflow for Lake Victoria is at Jinja, Uganda, where it forms the White Nile. The water 12,000 years ago drained over a natural rock weir. In 1952, British colonial engineers blasted out the weir and reservoir. A standard for mimicking the old rate of outflow called the "agreed curve" was established, setting the maximum flow rate at 300 to 1,700 cubic metres per second (392–2,224 cu yd/sec) depending on the lake's water level.
In 2002, Uganda completed a second hydroelectric complex in the area, the Kiira Power Station, with World Bank assistance. By 2006, the water levels in Lake Victoria had reached an 80-year low, and Daniel Kull, an independent hydrologist living in Nairobi, Kenya, calculated that Uganda was releasing about twice as much water as is allowed under the agreement, and was primarily responsible for recent drops in the lake's level.
Since the 1900s, Lake Victoria ferries have been an important means of transport between Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The main ports on the lake are Kisumu, Mwanza, Bukoba, Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja. Until Kenyan independence in 1963, the fastest and most modern ferry, MV Victoria, was designated a Royal Mail Ship. In 1966, train ferry services between Kenya and Tanzania were established with the introduction of MV Uhuru and MV Umoja. The ferry MV Bukoba sank in the lake on May 21, 1996 with a loss of between 800 and 1,000 lives, making it one of Africa's worst maritime disasters.
See also 
- "The Victoria Nyanza. The Land, the Races and their Customs, with Specimens of Some of the Dialects". World Digital Library. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- J.-P. vanden Bossche, G. M. Bernacsek (1990). "Lake Victoria". Source book for inland fishery resources of Africa. Volume 1. CIFA Technical Paper No. 18/1. Food and Agricultural Organization. pp. 83–87. ISBN 92-5-102983-0.
- United Nations, Development and Harmonisation of Environmental Laws Volume 1: Report on the Legal and Instituional Issues in the Lake Victoria Basin, United Nations, 1999, page 17
- C. F. Hickling (1961). Tropical Inland Fisheries. London: Longmans.
- J. Prado, R. J. Beare, J. Siwo Mbuga & L. E. Oluka, 1991. A catalogue of fishing methods and gear used in Lake Victoria. UNDP/FAO Regional Project for Inland Fisheries Development (IFIP), FAO RAF/87/099-TD/19/91 (En). Rome, Food and Agricultural Organisation.
- John Reader (2001). Africa. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. pp. 227–228. ISBN 0-7922-7681-7.
- Christian Sturmbauer, Sanja Baric, Walter Salzburger, Lukas Rüber & Erik Verheyen (2001). "Lake level fluctuations synchronize genetic divergences of cichlid fishes in African lakes" (PDF). Molecular Biology and Evolution 18: 144–154. PMID 11158373.
- J. C. Stager & T. C. Johnson (2008). "The late Pleistocene desiccation of Lake Victoria and the origin of its endemic biota". Hydrobiologia 596 (1): 5–16. doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9158-2.
- Simeon H. Ominde (1971). "Rural economy in West Kenya". In S. H. Ominde. Studies in East African Geography and Development. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. pp. 207–229. ISBN 0-520-02073-1.
- P. J. P. Whitehead (1959). "The river fisheries of Kenya 1: Nyanza Province". East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal 24 (4): 274–278.
- R. E. Hecky, F. W. B. Bugenyi, P. Ochumba, J. F. Talling, R. Mugidde, M. Gophen and L. Kaufman (1994). "Deoxygenation of the deep water of Lake Victoria, East Africa". Limnology and Oceanography 39 (6): 1476–1481. JSTOR 2838147.
- R. E. Hecky (1993). "The eutrophication of Lake Victoria". Verhandlungen der Internationale Vereinigung für Limnologie 25: 39–48.
- Peter B. O. Ochumba & David I. Kibaara (1989). "Observations on blue-green algal blooms in the open waters of Lake Victoria, Kenya". African Journal of Ecology 27 (1): 23–34. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1989.tb00925.x.
- R. S. A. Beauchamp (1954). "Fishery research in the lakes of East Africa". East African Agricultural Journal 19 (4): 203–207.
- Les Kaufman (1992). "Catastrophic change in species-rich freshwater ecosystems: the lessons of Lake Victoria". BioScience 42 (11): 846–858. JSTOR 1312084.
- Les Kaufman & Peter Ochumba (1993). "Evolutionary and conservation biology of cichlid fishes as revealed by faunal remnants in northern Lake Victoria". Conservation Biology 7 (3): 719–730. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1993.07030719.x. JSTOR 2386703.
- Tijs Goldschmidt, Frans Witte & Jan Wanink (1993). "Cascading effects of the introduced Nile perch on the detrivorous/phytoplantivorous species in sublittoral areas of Lake Victoria". Conservation Biology 7 (3): 686–700. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1993.07030686.x. JSTOR 2386700.
- Kim Geheb (1997). The Regulators and the regulated: fisheries management, options and dynamics in Kenya's Lake Victoria Fishery (Ph.D. thesis). University of Sussex. http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=1&uin=uk.bl.ethos.336275.
- "Water Hyacinth Re-invades Lake Victoria". Image of the Dat (NASA). February 21, 2007.
- "Speke, John Hanning". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- "Kenya, Africa – Lake Victoria in Kenya". Jambo Kenya Network. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
- Fred Pearce (February 9, 2006). "Uganda pulls plug on Lake Victoria". New Scientist 2538: 12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Lake Victoria|
- Decreasing levels of Lake Victoria Worry East African Countries
- Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law Peace Palace Library
- New Scientist article on Uganda's violation of the agreed curve for hydroelectric water flow.
- Dams Draining Lake Victoria
- Troubled Waters: The Coming Calamity on Lake Victoria multimedia from CLPMag.org
- Specie List of Lake Victoria Basin Cichlids of Lake Victoria and surrounding lakes
- G. D. Hale Carpenter joined the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and took the DM in 1913 with a dissertation on the tsetse fly (Glossina palpalis) and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). He published: A Naturalist on Lake Victoria, with an Account of Sleeping Sickness and the Tse-tse Fly (1920). T. F. Unwin Ltd, London; Biodiversity Archive
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9VJ6cezlnU - A beautiful video of Lake Victoria
Institutions of the East African Community