Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes, located in the north of Tanzania on the border with Uganda and Kenya, not far from the Serengeti National Park.
Lake Victoria is located between the western and eastern Rift Valley and covers an area of 69,484 square kilometers of which 49% is located in Tanzania, 45% in Uganda and 6% in Kenya.
It is the largest freshwater lake in Africa, the largest tropical lake in the world and also the second largest lake in the world by surface area after Lake Superior in North America.
It is huge in size: it has a maximum length, from north to south, of 337 kilometers (210 miles) while its maximum width is 240 kilometers (150 miles).
Lake Victoria is a relatively shallow lake, considering its size. It records a maximum depth of only 84 meters (276 feet) and an average depth of 40 meters (131 feet).
Lake Victoria is the source of the longest branch of the Nile River, the White Nile, which is also the only runoff from Lake Victoria.
Along its coasts, which are 3,440 kilometers long, there are numerous settlements, mainly agricultural, inhabited by farmers, fishermen and shepherds, but also important cities such as Mwanza in Tanzania, Kisumu in Kenya and Entebbe and Kampala in Uganda.
There are around 3000 islands in Lake Victoria, Ukerewe being the largest island of Lake Victoria and the largest inland island of Africa, but the island of Rubondo in Tanzania deserves a separate note. It is a true naturalistic paradise with a population of chimpanzees and other animal species.
The lake and its basin are endowed with abundant natural resources, which support the sustenance of the 33 million inhabitants living in the basin within the three East African countries.
With over 500 species of fish recorded, the biodiversity of Lake Victoria was huge. Unfortunately, the introduction of the Nile perch has altered the freshwater ecosystem of the lake while favouring the fishing activity.
Most of the villages on the coast belong to the Luo people, whose capital is Kisumu, a strategic crossroads for the entire Kenyan trade ever since Europeans settled in the area at the end of the 19th century and Kisumu became a trading post.
Kisumu comes from the word Kisuma, which literally means place of exchange.
The Kisumu Museum houses an interesting installation: it is the Ber-gi-dala, sponsored by UNESCO, which consists of a reconstruction in real scale of a traditional Luo farm, consisting of a house, barns and stockyards for a Luo man and the huts for each of his three wives and his eldest son.
The first recorded information on Lake Victoria comes from Arab traders who travel the internal routes in search of gold, ivory, other precious goods and slaves, while the first European to reach the lake was the British explorer John Hanning Speke in 1858, during the search for the source of the Nile.
Formerly known to the Arabs as Ukerewe, the lake took the current name in honour of Queen Victoria of England.
Today the lake and the surrounding area offer numerous tourist activities such as fishing, bird watching, hiking and boating.
A curiosity: some reliefs, in the 400,000 years of geological history of the lake, show how Lake Victoria has dried up completely at least three times since it formed and then filled up again.