Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in Africa and the longest lake in the world. Its length is 410 miles or 660 kilometers. The lake is rather narrow with a width anywhere between 10 to 45 miles.
This lake has been formed around 10.000 years ago and its vast size has seen it become a part of Africa’s and even the world’s history. During World War II, the Allies were fighting to gain control of its waters.
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Why the length and size of Lake Tanganyika matters
People were living around the lake from a few thousand years ago. It has been one of the main sources of fish for local communities. Historic data shows this lake has been the scene of the early days of fishing. Lantern fishing where a source of light is used to attract fish during the night has been reported on the lake’s shores.
Today, the lake has 3 main ports on its eastern shores. These are port Kigoma, port, Kalemie, and port Mpulungu. This lake is also the home of multiple species of fish, which is why so many people in 4 countries travel to these ports.
The lake isn’t only known for its length. It’s also one of the African lakes with clear water. On average, you can see to depths of 20 meters since its water is so clear. This is why many of its shores are sunbathing destinations for tourists. The British were the first European explorers of the lake and they noted its clear waters as one of its main characteristics.
300 species of fish
The lake has been isolated from rivers and other lakes for years. This is why it has over 300 endemic fish species which are all interesting to those who’ve never seen new fish. It is believed new fish species are discovered frequently here.
For the locals, these fish species come with positive remarks such as the ability to eat fresh food daily. As a result, the fish in the lake is the main source of protein for the communities living on its shores. The high number of fish from the lake are also exported to neighboring countries.
The lake flows into the Atlantic
The lake’s waters flow in the Congo River. From here, they travel to the Atlantic Ocean. This lake has been one of the main sources of water for the entire Congo River basin and smaller rivers connected to it. This is why the lake is one of the most important in Africa, even if it’s not as large as Lake Victoria.
Lake Tanganyika borders 4 countries. Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, and Zambia are the countries with direct access to the lake. This offers it a strategic role when it comes to transportation and fishing. During WWII, this lake was a source of interest as it was a top transportation method between these territories. Climate change has made it now eventually flow in the Atlantic, but this lake was largely endemic in the past.