The Largest Artificial Lake – Discovering the World’s Biggest Man-Made Bodies of Water

Tourist Attractions

By Caroline Lascom

Artificial lakes, also known as man-made or human-made lakes, are bodies of water created by the hand of man rather than formed naturally. These lakes serve various purposes, such as supplying water for irrigation and drinking, generating hydroelectric power, and providing recreational activities. While there are numerous artificial lakes around the world, one stands out as the largest in terms of surface area.

The largest artificial lake in the world is the Lake Volta, located in Ghana, West Africa. Spanning over 8,500 square kilometers (3,280 square miles), it is not only the largest artificial lake but also one of the largest reservoirs in terms of surface area. Lake Volta was created in 1964 with the construction of the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River. It serves as a vital source of hydroelectric power for Ghana, contributing to the country’s energy production and economic development.

While Lake Volta takes the top spot in terms of surface area, it is worth mentioning some other significant man-made lakes. Lake Kariba, situated on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, comes in second place with a surface area of approximately 5,580 square kilometers (2,150 square miles). This massive reservoir was formed by the construction of the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River and serves as a source of hydroelectric power for both countries.

In conclusion, artificial lakes are impressive engineering feats that serve vital purposes worldwide. Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake, and Lake Kariba, the second-largest, both play crucial roles in their respective regions in terms of energy production, water supply, and economic development.

The Largest Man-Made Reservoirs in the World

The world is home to many impressive man-made reservoirs, which have been constructed to serve various purposes, such as providing water for irrigation, generating hydroelectric power, or serving as sources of drinking water. Below are a few of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world.

1. Lake Mead, United States: Located on the border of Nevada and Arizona, Lake Mead is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, Lake Mead has a capacity of approximately 28.5 million acre-feet and provides water for millions of people in the western United States.

2. Lake Kariba, Zambia and Zimbabwe: Situated on the Zambezi River, Lake Kariba is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world. It was created by the Kariba Dam and has a capacity of over 180 billion cubic meters. Lake Kariba is not only an important source of freshwater but also a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its stunning views and diverse wildlife.

3. Lake Volta, Ghana: Located in southeastern Ghana, Lake Volta is the largest artificial lake by surface area in the world. It covers approximately 8,502 square kilometers and was created by the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River. The lake serves as a vital source of hydroelectric power for Ghana and provides irrigation water for agricultural purposes.

4. Lake Nasser, Egypt and Sudan: Lake Nasser, formed by the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River, is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in terms of surface area. It spans over 5,250 square kilometers and serves as a crucial source of water for irrigation and electricity generation in Egypt and Sudan.

5. Bratsk Reservoir, Russia: The Bratsk Reservoir, located on the Angara River in Siberia, is one of the largest man-made reservoirs by volume. It has a total capacity of 169.27 billion cubic meters and plays a significant role in providing hydroelectric power to the region. The reservoir is also utilized for water transport and fish farming.

These man-made reservoirs not only fulfill important functions but also have become iconic landmarks in their respective regions, attracting tourists and serving as important sources of recreation.

Lake Kariba

Lake Kariba is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, located on the Zambezi River on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was created in 1958 with the construction of the Kariba Dam, which stretches for 226 kilometers (140 miles) and has a maximum width of 40 kilometers (25 miles).

The lake covers a surface area of approximately 5,580 square kilometers (2,150 square miles) and has a capacity of 185 cubic kilometers (44 cubic miles) of water, making it one of the largest reservoirs in terms of volume. It is also home to various wildlife, including hippos, crocodiles, and a wide variety of fish species.

Lake Kariba provides important benefits to both Zambia and Zimbabwe. It serves as a major source of hydroelectric power, with the Kariba Dam generating around 1,320 megawatts of electricity. The lake also supports thriving fishing and tourist industries, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

In recent years, Lake Kariba has faced challenges such as fluctuating water levels and environmental concerns. The rise and fall of the water levels, caused by factors such as droughts and excessive hydropower generation, have had an impact on the surrounding ecosystems and communities. Efforts are being made to manage and sustain the lake’s resources for the benefit of both present and future generations.

Lake Volta

Lake Volta is the largest artificial lake in terms of surface area. It is located in Ghana, West Africa, and covers a total area of approximately 3,275 square miles (8,502 square kilometers). The lake was created as a result of the construction of the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River in the 1960s.

The creation of Lake Volta had a significant impact on the region, providing a source of hydroelectric power, irrigation for agriculture, and improved transportation. The lake is navigable and is an important transportation route for both goods and people.

Lake Volta is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and supports a vibrant fishing industry. The lake is known for its abundance of different species of fish, including Nile tilapia, catfish, and various types of freshwater shrimp.

The lake’s shoreline is dotted with numerous islands, offering opportunities for tourism and recreation. Visitors can enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, and birdwatching. The Volta River, which feeds into the lake, also provides opportunities for water sports such as kayaking and rafting.

Lake Volta plays a crucial role in Ghana’s economy, providing power generation, irrigation for agriculture, and supporting the fishing industry. It is also a valuable natural resource that attracts tourists from around the world.

Williston Lake

Williston Lake, also known as Williston Reservoir, is the largest artificial lake in British Columbia, Canada. It was created as a result of the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam on the Peace River. The lake covers an area of approximately 1,761 square kilometers and has a capacity of 74 cubic kilometers of water.

Williston Lake is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and camping. It offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding. The lake is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including fish species such as rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and bull trout.

The construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, which began in 1961 and was completed in 1968, resulted in the flooding of the original town of Hudson’s Hope and the displacement of its residents. The dam was built to generate hydroelectric power and is a key component of the Peace River hydroelectric system.

In addition to its recreational and hydroelectric purposes, Williston Lake also plays a role in water management and flood control. It helps regulate the flow of the Peace River and provides water for downstream communities and industries.

Overall, Williston Lake is a significant and multi-functional body of water, serving as a source of power, recreation, and water management in the region.

Lake Nasser

Lake Nasser is the largest artificial lake in Africa. It is located on the border between Egypt and Sudan, and was created as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River.

The lake was named after Gamal Abdel Nasser, the second President of Egypt. It has a surface area of approximately 5,250 square kilometers (2,030 square miles) and a maximum depth of 134 meters (440 feet).

Lake Nasser is an important source of hydroelectric power for both Egypt and Sudan, as the Aswan High Dam generates electricity for both countries. The lake also serves as a vital water resource for irrigation, providing water for agriculture in the surrounding areas.

The creation of Lake Nasser resulted in the displacement of thousands of people, as numerous communities and archaeological sites were submerged by the rising waters. Efforts were made to relocate and preserve the affected archaeological sites, including the relocation of several ancient temples such as the Abu Simbel temples.

The lake is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors who come to explore its scenic landscapes and engage in activities such as fishing, boating, and birdwatching. The lake is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various species of fish, crocodiles, and birds.

In addition to its cultural and ecological significance, Lake Nasser also plays a role in promoting regional cooperation, as it is jointly managed by both Egypt and Sudan.

Overall, Lake Nasser is a remarkable testament to human engineering and its impact on the environment, and continues to be an important resource for the surrounding countries.

Krasnoyarsk Reservoir

The Krasnoyarsk Reservoir, also known as the Krasnoyarsk Sea, is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. It is located on the Yenisei River in the Krasnoyarsk Krai region of Russia.

The reservoir was created as part of the Soviet Union’s ambitious plans for hydroelectric power generation. Construction began in 1956 and was completed in 1972. The resulting reservoir covers an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometers and has a maximum depth of 98 meters.

With a total capacity of over 73 billion cubic meters, the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir plays a crucial role in providing energy to the region. Its hydroelectric power station has a capacity of 6,000 MW, making it one of the largest in Russia.

Aside from its function as a source of electricity, the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir also supports various economic activities. It serves as an important transportation route, allowing for the navigation of large cargo ships. The reservoir is also a popular destination for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.

The creation of the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir had a significant impact on the environment and local communities. Several villages and towns had to be relocated to make way for the reservoir, and the landscape of the area was dramatically altered. However, the reservoir has provided valuable resources and opportunities for economic development.

Lake Guri

Lake Guri is the largest artificial lake in Venezuela. It was created in 1978 as part of the Guri Dam project, which aimed to generate hydroelectric power for the country. The lake is located in the Bolívar State, and it covers an area of approximately 4,250 square kilometers.

The Guri Dam, which is the largest hydroelectric power station in Venezuela, spans the Caroní River and creates Lake Guri. The dam was built to harness the water flow from the river and generate electricity. With a capacity of 10,235 megawatts, it provides around 70% of Venezuela’s electricity.

Due to its size and location, Lake Guri has become a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. Its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife attract tourists from all over the world. The lake is also an important source of drinking water for nearby communities.

The creation of Lake Guri had a significant impact on the environment and local communities. Several villages and historical sites had to be relocated to make way for the reservoir. The lake also flooded large areas of forest, leading to the loss of valuable ecosystems and biodiversity.

Overall, Lake Guri stands as a testament to the engineering prowess of Venezuela and the importance of hydroelectric power in the country’s energy mix.

Location Capacity Area
Bolívar State, Venezuela 10,235 megawatts 4,250 square kilometers

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Caroline Lascom

Caroline is a seasoned travel writer and editor, passionate about exploring the world. She currently edits captivating travel content at TravelAsker, having previously contributed her exceptional skills to well-known travel guidebooks like Frommer’s, Rough Guides, Footprint, and Fodor’s. Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Manchester University (UK) and a master's degree in literature from Northwestern University. Having traveled to 67 countries, her journeys have fueled her love for storytelling and sharing the world's wonders.

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