Lake Victoria Introduction – Location, Attractions & History

Magnificent, regal, awe-inspiring, and intimidating in its grandeur! Perhaps these were words that crossed John Hanning Speke’s mind when he first stood on the shores of the iconic Lake Victoria in 1858. His quest for the source of the mighty Nile River led him to the banks of a massive body of water that he named Victoria, after the English royal monarch. Even today, the lake continues to captivate and awe the many travelers that arrive at its shores. Lake Victoria, also called Victoria Nyanza, is the largest tropical lake and the world’s second largest freshwater lake (by surface area), following North America’s Lake Superior in Canada.

Covering an area of 68,800 square kilometers (26,565 square miles), it might well be called a small inland sea. Since it is not included in the Rift Valley ecosystem, it is a freshwater body, unlike most of the alkaline lakes found in the area. Lake Victoria, with a maximum depth of around 80-84 meters (262-275 feet), is shared by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is fed by rainwater, the Kagera River, and several small streams, and ultimately drains into the Nile River on the north. Although John Speke is credited with the European “discovery” of the lake, the Bassese tribe had settled beside the lake and inhabited its shores for centuries before the arrival of foreign explorers.

Key Takeaways

  • Iconic Lake Victoria first discovered by John Speke in the year 1858
  • Result of the quest to find the source of the Nile River
  • Called Lake Nyanza by the traditional inhabitants of the region. Freshwater body of water bordered by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Source of enchantment and awe for travelers for centuries
  • Covering an area of 68,800 square kilometers second only to Lake Superior in North America – Canada.

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