Which Lake is the World's Largest?
There are a few different ways to define the world's largest lake. Are you interested in the lake with the largest surface area? Or, the lake with the greatest water volume? And, do you want to consider salt water seas in your comparison?
"Which lake is the World's largest?" is not a simple question to answer. So, we will explore the question from a few different perspectives.
World's Largest Lake (by volume):
Lake Baikal is the world's largest freshwater lake in terms of volume. It contains about 5521 cubic miles of water (23, 000 cubic kilometers), or approximately 20% of Earth's fresh surface water. This is a volume of water approximately equivalent to all five of the North American Great Lakes combined.Related:
World's Largest Lake (by surface area):
The salty Caspian Sea has the greatest surface area of any lake at 143, 200 square miles (370, 886 square kilometers). Lake Superior, on the United States/Canada border is the named freshwater lake with the greatest surface area at 31, 700 square miles (82, 103 square kilometers).
However, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron can technically be considered a single lake because they both have the same surface elevation and they are connected by the Mackinac Straight (which is not a river because the water does not have a consistent flow direction). So, Lake Michigan-Huron can be considered the largest fresh-water lake in the world. It has a total surface area of 45, 410 square miles (117, 611 square kilometers) which is significantly larger than Lake Superior. The total water volume in Lake Michigan-Huron is much smaller than the volume of Lake Baikal at 2, 030 cubic miles (8443 cubic kilometers).
Largest Lake in the United States (by volume):
The largest lake in the United States on the basis of water volume is Lake Superior with a volume of 2904 cubic miles (12, 100 cubic kilometers).
Largest Lake in the United States (by surface area):
Lake Michigan-Huron has the largest surface area in the United States at 45, 410 square miles (117, 611 square kilometers).
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Map of the Caspian Sea - World's Largest Land-Locked Water Body - by volume - Image by CIA
Map of Lake Baikal - World's Largest Freshwater Lakeby volume- Image by CIA
Map of Lake Superior - World's Largest Freshwater Lake - by surface area - Image by CIA