While it is incredibly difficult to count all the lakes in different countries on the planet due to conflicting ideas on what constitutes a lake, this has not stopped expert scientists and researchers from trying. Geographers from McGill University in Canada conducted a recent study on all lakes on Earth to study their effect on the global climate. From this study, a list of countries with the world’s largest number of lakes was created.
Finland, called “The Land of a Thousand Lakes,” has 187,888 lakes, and some schools of thought believe it contains the highest number of lakes in relation to its size. However, Finland does not make it to the list because only lakes over 100,000 square meters or 0.1 square kilometers were considered in the study. In comparison, Finland’s lakes include water bodies larger than 500 sq. m. Hence, Finland does not qualify for this listing.
This article contains a list of the top 10 countries in the world with the most lakes.
10) Australia – 11,400
Containing many artificial lakes, coastal lagoons, natural inland lakes, and several temporary salt lakes, Australia is Number 10 on our list with a total of 11,400 lakes. Australia’s artificial lakes are more concentrated in the southeastern part of the country, where they were constructed to provide water to the agricultural regions and large coastal cities. The largest lake in Australia, Lake Eyre, is over one-third larger than the largest lake in Europe.
9) Kazakhstan – 12,400
Kazakhstan is the ninth most lake-dense country in the world. Interestingly, it is also the 9th largest country in the world. In reality, there are 48,262 “lakes” in Kazakhstan. But, only 12,400 are large enough to be considered actual lakes. Many lakes are formed because most of the country lies within a basin. So rivers flowing from surrounding inland areas end at a series of numerous lakes within the Kazakh lowlands. Kazakhstan boasts numerous large lakes, including Lake Balkhash, one of the largest in Kazakhstan, and the northeastern portion of the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake.
8) Argentina – 13,600
Argentina is home to 13,600 lakes. Regions that were glaciated during the last ice age, such as the Andes Mountains and vast fertile lowlands covering the eastern and northern parts of the country, feature many of Argentina’s lakes. Argentina’s Lake District is within the Andes Mountains, featuring many finger-shaped lakes formed by glaciers during the Last Ice Age. The fertile Pampas region is dotted with many small lakes, such as Lake Gómez.
7) Norway – 20,000
Due to the entire country being covered by glacial ice during the last ice age, many lakes were formed, to make Norway the 7th country on our list – with a total of 20,000 lakes. Norway also contains many artificial reservoirs formed from large and deep valleys along the western side of the country. One of the most popular lakes in Norway is Lake Tyrifjorden, a large lake with a depth of 967 feet located about 25 miles northwest of Oslo, Norway’s capital.
6) Brazil – 20,900
A country with a vast land area, Brazil contains many lakes, ranging from natural to artificial. Many of the 20,900 lakes documented in Brazil are located within the Amazon region, while many others are found outside of Amazon. The largest lake in Brazil, Lagos dos Patos is a 180-mile-long lake found in the country’s extreme southeast. The Sobradinho Reservoir is a man-made lake in the country that is about six times larger than the surface area of Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the United States!
5) Sweden – 22,600
Launching the top five countries on this list is Sweden, home to 22,600 lakes ranging from small ones to incredibly large ones. This high number of lakes is majorly due to the fact the country was also covered in ice during the last Ice Age nearly 10,000 years ago. When the ice melted, the entire width of the country was covered in water. One particularly worthy of notable mention is Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden and the largest in the European Union –approximately 90 miles long. Even though Sweden is relatively small, the country features about 395 lakes with a surface area exceeding 4 Square miles.
4) China – 23,800
Unlike Sweden, China has a massive surface area (3.7 million square miles), which makes it less of a surprise that it contains the fourth-highest number of lakes in the world. Many lakes in China are located in the rainfall-heavy south and east of the country. The Tibetan Plateau and mountainous areas across the country’s western half are also home to many others. Many of China’s lakes are freshwater, with the largest freshwater lake being Poyang Lake. While China has many freshwater lakes, a few, such as Qinghai Lake and Namtso, are massive saltwater lakes.
3) USA – 102,500
The United States of America (USA) is the third of the top three lake-dense countries in the world, with a whopping 102,500 lakes. Many of these lakes are found across all regions of the country, away from deserts in the southwest – majorly because these regions have experienced past glacial processes. Some are found in the country’s northern part and the Rocky Mountains’ northern valleys. The USA contains at least part of The Great Lakes, the largest lakes in the country, and they make up about 21 percent of surface freshwater on the planet. The country is also home to numerous artificial lakes, of which Lake Mead is the largest.
2) Russia – 201,200
Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land surface area. Not surprising for a country with a surface area of 17.1 million square kilometers (6.6 million square miles), Russia has the second-highest number of lakes in the world, totaling about 201,200 lakes. Most of the country, especially the north and west, were covered in ice during the last Ice Age, possibly due to high altitude.
Although different factors prevented excess ice accumulation across parts of Siberia, the previously ice-covered areas are today dotted with many lakes. Not all the lakes in Russia are glacially formed; some are formed by plate tectonics. An example is Lake Baikal, the largest lake in the country and the world’s deepest lake.
1) Canada – 879,800
Finally, the country with the most lakes in the world is Canada, consisting of 879,800 lakes – more lakes than the other countries combined! Canada contains about 62% of the world’s 1.42 million lakes. Unsurprisingly, Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. If you’re wondering why Russia has less than a quarter of the number of lakes Canada does – it is because the vast majority of Canada was once situated under a large ice sheet. The huge weight of the ice sheet and glacial erosion led to the filling up of the landscape with water. So much that lakes cover almost 9% of Canada’s surface area. The largest lake entirely within Canada is the Great Bear Lake, which is about half the surface area of Lake Michigan.
Summary Of The 10 Countries With The Most Lakes
|Amount of Lakes
Other Lakes Worth a Mention:
Whenever this topic of “countries with the most lakes” comes up, people ask about Finland. By some accounts, Finland has nearly 188,000 lakes. Travel brochures call it the “Land of 60,000 lakes.” However, to make most lists like ours, a lake must be at least 25 acres. In Finland, the minimum size of a “lake” is just .12 acres, or the size of a basketball court! Consequently, Finland is not among the top ten.
If you want to extend the list, there are five more countries that have a notable number of lakes:
- 11. Belarus, 11,000
- 12. Switzerland, 7,000
- 13. Columbia, 3,240
- 14. Germany, 2,000
- 15. Indonesia, 521.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © muratart/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.