There are millions of lakes; all vary in size and depth. To be considered a lake, a body of water must be surrounded by land. There is no place in the world where you will not find a lake, no matter the elevation, environment, or continent.
Lakes are created by melting snow, groundwater, rain, or streams. They most often are freshwater. Lakes can be open or closed. If water can leave the lake by an outlet or river, it is open. If water leaves a lake only by evaporation, it is closed.
A lake is formed when it fills in a depression in the Earth’s surface that is shaped like a bowl. These depressions can be filled in various ways. The depth of a lake is measured using two criteria. The criteria include the maximum depth and mean depth of the lake.
The maximum depth of a lake is measured from the surface to the deepest point of the lake. The mean depth refers to the average depth of the lake.
Below are the 30 deepest lakes in the world ranked by maximum depth. Also included below are some interesting facts about those lakes.
Table of Contents
- 1. Lake Baikal, Russia – 5,387 feet (1,642 meters)
- 2. Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi & Zambia – 4,823 feet (1,470 meters)
- 3. Caspian Sea, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Azerbaijan – 3,363 feet (1,025 meters)
- 4. Lake Vostok, Antarctica – 3,300 feet (1,000 meters)
- 5. O’Higgins-San Martin Lake, Chile & Argentina – 2,742 feet (836 meters)
- 6. Lake Malawi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania – 2,316 feet (706 meters)
- 7. Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan – 2,192 feet (668 meters)
- 8. Great Slave Lake, Canada – 2,015 feet (614 meters)
- 9. Crater Lake, Oregon, United States – 1,949 feet (594 meters)
- 10. Lake Matano, South Sulawesi, Indonesia – 1,936 feet (590 meters)
- 11. General Carrera Lake, Argentina & Chile – 1,923 feet (586 meters)
- 12. Hornindalsvatnet, Norway – 1,686 feet (514 meters)
- 13. Quesnel Lake, British Columbia, Canada – 1,677 feet (511 meters)
- 14. Lake Toba, Indonesia – 1,657 feet (505 meters)
- 15. Sarez Lake, Tajikistan – 1,657 feet (505 meters)
- 16. Lake Tahoe, United States – 1,645 feet (501 meters)
- 17. Lake Argentino, Argentina – 1,640 feet (500 meters)
- 18. Lake Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Rwanda – 1,575 feet (480 meters)
- 19. Salsvatnet, Norway – 1,523 feet (464 meters)
- 20. Lake Nahuel Huapi, Argentina – 1,523 feet (464 meters)
- 21. Lake Hauroko, New Zealand – 1,516 feet (462 meters)
- 22. Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake, Chile, and Argentina – 1,509 meters (460 meters)
- 23. Lake Tinn, Norway – 1,509 feet (460 meters)
- 24. Adams Lake, British Columbia, Canada – 1,499 feet (457 meters)
- 25. Lake Chelan, Washington, United States – 1,486 feet (453 meters)
- 26. Lake Van, Turkey – 1,480 feet (451 meters)
- 27. Lake Poso, Indonesia – 1,476 feet (450 meters)
- 28. Fagnano Lake, Argentina, and Chile – 1,473 feet (449 meters)
- 29. Great Bear Lake, Canada – 1,463 feet (446 meters)
- 30. Lake Manapouri, New Zealand – 1,455 feet (444 meters)
1. Lake Baikal, Russia – 5,387 feet (1,642 meters)
At 1,642 meters (5,387 feet), Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. Not only is Lake Baikal the deepest lake, but it is also the oldest one at 25 million years old. This lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and located in Russia.
It contains 1,000 plant and 2,500 animal species, including fish and seal species that can only be found there. Lake Baikal was created by an ancient rift. It holds about 20 percent of the world’s fresh water that is not frozen.
2. Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi & Zambia – 4,823 feet (1,470 meters)
Coming in at number two, Lake Tanganyika is 1,470 meters (4,823 feet) and the second oldest lake. It is the longest freshwater lake and spans four countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Burundi, and Tanzania.
Lake Tanganyika is home to just about 18 percent of the freshwater in the world, 4,500 cubic miles. There are six large islands and many smaller ones in Lake Tanganyika. The lake is surrounded by the natural beauty of valleys and mountains.
It has species of sardine, sponge, and jellyfish that can only be found in the lake. More than 10 million people live around the basics of Lake Tanganyika. They live off the fish that approximately 800 fisheries bring in from the lake.
3. Caspian Sea, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Azerbaijan – 3,363 feet (1,025 meters)
The Caspian Sea is 1,025 meters (3,363 feet) long and surrounded by five countries: Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Azerbaijan. About 80 percent of its water comes from the Volga River. While its name may be confusing, it is completely surrounded by land, which defines it as a lake.
At 14,000 square miles, the Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world. Tuna and Beluga sturgeon, known for producing caviar, are found in the lake. In addition, there is oil to be found under and around the lake. It was originally formed as a leftover of the Paratethys Sea but became surrounded by land about 5.5 million years ago.
4. Lake Vostok, Antarctica – 3,300 feet (1,000 meters)
Lake Vostok is a subglacial lake in Antarctica. This lake is hidden underneath of an ice sheet, making it difficult to measure accurately. However, it is believed to be approximately 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).
It is situated at the Southern Pole of Cold about 4,000 meters beneath the ice. Lake Vostok has about 5,400 cubic kilometers of fresh water.
The lake remains liquid even though Antarctica is incredibly cold. The pressure that is put on the lake by the ice sheet lowers the melting point of water to help keep the lake in liquid form. As a result, the lake is protected from drilling that may contaminate the lake.
5. O’Higgins-San Martin Lake, Chile & Argentina – 2,742 feet (836 meters)
The O’Higgins-San Martin Lake is the fifth deepest lake coming in at 836 meters (2,742 feet). It has two names and resides in Patagonia, which is shared by both Argentina and Chile. In Chile, the lake is called Lago O’Higgins. In Argentina, it is referred to as Lago San Martin.
The lake has a shape of extensions that are finger-like and follow into the valleys in both Argentina and Chile. It has close proximity to the O’Higgins Glacier, giving the lake a milky blue color from the rock flour the water contains.
6. Lake Malawi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania – 2,316 feet (706 meters)
Lake Malawi is 706 meters (2,316 feet) deep, making it the sixth deepest lake in the world. While it is officially known as Lake Malawi but is also called lake Nyasa (Tanzania) or Lago Niassa (Mozambique).
Lake Malawi is known to be the third largest freshwater lake in Africa and is located between Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique.
A unique quality of this lake is that it contains layers that do not mix. Due to the different water chemistries in it, it has permanent layers. The part of the lake located in Mozambique has been considered a reserve by the government.
7. Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan – 2,192 feet (668 meters)
Issyk-Kul is located in the Tian Shan mountain region of Eastern Kyrgyzstan. The translation for the name of this lake is warm lake because it never freezes despite being surrounded by cold snow-capped mountains. This is the seventh deepest lake at 668 meters (2,192 feet).
It is considered a nature reserve for the country. Even though Issyk-Kul receives water from more than 100 streams and rivers, it does not have an outlet. Instead, the water is reduced through evaporation.
It has a large amount of salt left behind from the evaporation process. It is home to majestic landscapes, unique waterfowl, and many endemic species of fish, some of which are considered endangered.
8. Great Slave Lake, Canada – 2,015 feet (614 meters)
The Great Slave Lake is 614 meters (2,015 feet) deep, making it the eighth deepest lake in both the world and North America. It is in the Northwest Territory of Canada, with forest on the western shore and tundra on all the other shores.
It is believed that the shoreline was once inhabited by indigenous Slavey people about 8,000 years ago, which is where the name is derived.
9. Crater Lake, Oregon, United States – 1,949 feet (594 meters)
Crater Lake is referred to as the deepest lake in the United States at 594 meters (1,949 feet) deep. It is in a volcanic crater that was created about 7,700 years ago with Mount Mazama erupted. It is a beautiful deep blue color.
It has no inlet or outlet. Instead, it loses water through evaporation and gains it from rain or snow. The lake is part of a National Park and contains two islands; Phantom Ship and Wizard Island.
10. Lake Matano, South Sulawesi, Indonesia – 1,936 feet (590 meters)
Lake Matano is 590 meters (1,936 feet) deep and is located on the southern peninsula of Sulawesi in Indonesia. The lake contains a rare combination of methane and iron. This combination is not typically found on Earth today.
Lake Matano is crystal clear and is an ideal location for swimming, fishing, boating, and diving. It is also owned by a company that is also a nickel mine.
11. General Carrera Lake, Argentina & Chile – 1,923 feet (586 meters)
The General Carrera Lake, also known as Lake Buenos Aires, is 586 meters (1,923 feet) deep. The General Carrera Lake is surrounded by the Andes Mountains and is located in Patagonia. This lake is also at the border of Argentina and Chile.
It was formed by glaciers and drained into the Pacific Ocean. It has unique geological formations created by waves more than 6,000 years ago. The bottom of the lake is approximately 1,000 feet under sea level.
12. Hornindalsvatnet, Norway – 1,686 feet (514 meters)
The Hornindalsvatnet is the deepest lake in Norway, as well as Europe, at 514 meters (1,686 feet) deep. This lake flows into the River Eidselva and then further into Eidsfjorden. Every year a marathon occurs beginning at the north of the lake. This lake is fresh water and a critical habitat for Atlantic salmon as they migrate.
13. Quesnel Lake, British Columbia, Canada – 1,677 feet (511 meters)
The Quesnel Lake is the 13th deepest lake by only a slight amount. It is 511 meters (1,677 feet) deep. It is known as the deepest fjord lake. A fjord lake long, narrow, and deep inlet of the sea between steep slopes.
This is a lake full of fresh water that is home to rainbow trout. The Quesnel Lake provides the ability to fish at the shore and throughout the tributary streams.
14. Lake Toba, Indonesia – 1,657 feet (505 meters)
Lake Toba is a natural lake that sits in a large crater of a supervolcano in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The last time the volcano erupted was close to 70,000 years ago, and it was the most expensive eruption in 25 million years.
It is 505 meters (1,657 feet) deep, and its surface elevation is about 900 meters above sea level. This is the largest lake in Indonesia. The Batak people make Lake Toba their home and have many villages along the shore.
15. Sarez Lake, Tajikistan – 1,657 feet (505 meters)
The Sarez Lake was created by an earthquake in 1911. A landslide followed the earthquake to create a dam, all of which were instrumental in forming the Sarez Lake.
This dam is also referred to as the Usoi blockage. It is also the tallest dam in the world.
The lake is 505 meters (1,657 feet) deep. The Pamir Mountains surround the lake, and it holds about 16 cubic kilometers of water.
16. Lake Tahoe, United States – 1,645 feet (501 meters)
Lake Tahoe is 501 meters (1,645 feet) deep and the second deepest lake in the United States. It has the largest volume of all lakes in the United States. There are 63 tributaries that feed Lake Tahoe. It has only one outlet; the Truckee River.
This lake is a centerpiece and surrounded by granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada. This lake sits between California and Nevada. In addition to the majestic mountains, the lake offers beaches, biking trails, and hiking trails.
17. Lake Argentino, Argentina – 1,640 feet (500 meters)
Lake Argentino is 500 meters (1,640 feet) deep and about 185 meters above sea level. It has one main body with several arms, also known as branches. They are called Upsala, Rico, Sur, and Norte. Lake Argentino gives way to the Santa Cruz River and then empties into the Atlantic Ocean. This freshwater lake has a special color because of the glacier milk that occurs as a result of the union of glaciers.
18. Lake Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Rwanda – 1,575 feet (480 meters)
This is one of the greater lakes located in East Africa at 480 meters (1,575 feet) deep. The Congo is located to the west of the lake, and Rwanda is located to the east. It sits about 1,460 meters (4,790 feet) above sea level.
It is about 55miles long from north to south and 30 miles wide from east to west. There is a rough coast along Lake Kivu, which was once part of a larger body of water.
19. Salsvatnet, Norway – 1,523 feet (464 meters)
Salsvatnet lake is 464 meters (1,523 feet) deep. It is the second-largest lake in Norway and Europe. Some state the deepest part of Salsvatnet is 482 meters deep. This lake is situated close to the ocean.
The water in this lake is stratified permanently and does not have oxygen in the lower areas of the lake. This is a result of no turnover and a dense gradient. The lower layers have a high amount of saline, making it much denser than the higher levels.
20. Lake Nahuel Huapi, Argentina – 1,523 feet (464 meters)
Lake Nahuel Huapi is known as the largest lake in Argentina’s lake area and a popular resort. This lake is 464 meters (1,523 feet) deep. The lake is surrounded by islands, one of which is Isla Victoria, where the forest research station is located.
This lake holds water that is cold, deep, and clear. The lakes inlets are streams and rivers from the mountains. It has only one outlet, the Limay River. The area around the lake became a national park in 1934.
21. Lake Hauroko, New Zealand – 1,516 feet (462 meters)
Lake Hauroko is known to be the deepest lake in New Zealand at 462 meters (1,516 feet) deep. It is also the most southern lake in New Zealand. The lake is shaped like an S, and its surface is 150 meters above sea level. Lake Hauroko drains into the Foveaux Strait. It has two islands; one small one and the other is larger.
22. Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake, Chile, and Argentina – 1,509 meters (460 meters)
The Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake is a lake that is fed by a glacier and 460 meters (1,509 meters) deep. The Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake is located on the eastern edge of the southern Andes. The Cochrane/Pueyrredón Lake rests between the border of Chile and Argentina.
It is named after Lord Cochrane on Chile side and Pueyrredón on the Argentina side. The border of the lake is a peninsula that cuts out across the lake on the North side. This border follows the Ridgeline of the eastern Andes.
23. Lake Tinn, Norway – 1,509 feet (460 meters)
Lake Tinn, also called Tinnsja, is one of the largest lakes located in Norway. Lake Tinn is also one of the deepest in Europe at 460 meters (1,509 feet). It is located between Tinn and Notodden in the county of Vestfold og Telemark.
The Mana river is its source to the west, and the river Mar from the north flows into Lake Tinn. The Norwegian resistance sunk the ferry SF Hydro in 1944, which belonged to the German during the German occupation.
24. Adams Lake, British Columbia, Canada – 1,499 feet (457 meters)
Adams Lake is a Goldwater lake that is 457 meters (1,499 feet) and located in British Columbia, Canada. The lake is 63 kilometers (39 miles) long and somewhere between 1.6 kilometers (0.99 miles) and 3.2 kilometers (2.0 miles) wide.
The water flows into Adams Lake through many tributaries, and it drains from the lake to the lower Adams River. Adams Lake gives a home to the sockeye salmon run. One can also find mountain whitefish and rainbow trout in the lake.
25. Lake Chelan, Washington, United States – 1,486 feet (453 meters)
Lake Chelan is located in north-central to northwestern Washington, United States, and is 453 meters (1,486 feet) deep. The Stehekin River is the principal inlet for Lake Chelan. It is a glacial stream that rises above the southern part of North Cascades National Park.
It has one outlet, which is a dam, at the southeastern end of the lake in Chelan, the town. It creates a short channel into the Columbia River.
26. Lake Van, Turkey – 1,480 feet (451 meters)
Lake Van is the largest body of water in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East. This lake is near Eastern Anatolia, which borders Iran. It is 451 meters (1,480 feet) deep and covers 1,434 square miles, with its widest point being more than 74 miles across.
The lake is close to the shape of a triangle. The water is not ideal for irrigation or drinking. It contains salt ware that is not even safe for animals. However, there is one soft river fish that has managed to adapt to the salty water and lives in the brackish lake.
27. Lake Poso, Indonesia – 1,476 feet (450 meters)
Lake Poso is the third largest and deepest lake in Indonesia at 450 meters (1,476 feet) deep. The lake looks like a reservoir because of the surrounding hills. This lake is not as cold as one might think based on its depth. It is cool but not frigid.
Lake Poso has a large amount of diversity, including unique and interesting fauna and flora that is not found anywhere else. There are eels, hornbills, and pigs that roam in and around the lake.
28. Fagnano Lake, Argentina, and Chile – 1,473 feet (449 meters)
Fagnano Lake is also called Lake Cami, and it is located on Tierra del Fuego, which is the main island and is shared by both Chile and Argentina. It is 449 meters (1,473 feet) deep.
The southern bank is steeper than the northern bank, and the lake is wide and flat. The Fagnano Lake is also located on a pull-apart basin that developed on the Magallanes-Fagnano fault zone.
29. Great Bear Lake, Canada – 1,463 feet (446 meters)
Great Bear Lake is found in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It lies next to the Arctic Circle that is about 446 meters (1,463 feet) deep. Great Bear Lake is in the boreal rainforest of Canada.
The Great Bear Lake was discovered by traders from the North West Company before 1800. The name was given to the lake based on the bears that live on the shores.
Great Bear Lake has an irregular shape and contains many small islands. It is about 200 miles long and 25 miles to 110 miles wide. This lake is clear and cold and abundant with fish, such as the speckled trout.
30. Lake Manapouri, New Zealand – 1,455 feet (444 meters)
Lake Manapouri is located on the South Island of New Zealand and is about 444 meters (1,455 feet) deep. Lake Manapouri is one of the Southern Lakes, which are in the highland section of the Fiordland National Park.
This lake was created by a glacial deepening of a stream valley along with a damming of the valley with the debris. The name of Lake Manapouri comes from the word in Maori that means the lake of the sorrowing heart. There are also references that the lake is part of a legend that was created from the tears of dying sisters.