What Percent of The Earth Is Water, and How Much Is There?

Written by Megan Martin
Published: November 10, 2022
© Harvepino/Shutterstock.com
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Have you ever wondered what percent of the Earth is water? If you look at a map, it seems like most of the planet is aquatic. And that’s just looking at the oceans! There are also hundreds of thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams to consider when you’re looking at all the water on Earth.

As a result, it can be a little tricky to know immediately just how much of Earth is water. However, this complete guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the amount of water on the planet. Ready to learn more? Keep reading below!

How much of Earth is made of Water?

planet earth
About 71% of the Earth is made of water.

©iStock.com/Thaweesak Saengngoen

When you look at a globe, you can see that a majority of the Earth is covered in water. However, what’s the exact percentage? Most scientists estimate it to be around 71 percent. 

Where is all the Water on Earth?

All of the water on Earth is divided between freshwater, saltwater, and frozen sources. As a result, water can be found almost everywhere in some type of source.

Percent of Earth’s Water: Salt Versus Fresh

Believe it or not but very little of the planet’s water is fresh water. A majority of the water of the world can be found in one of the many oceans on our continent. In fact, the world’s largest ocean, which will be discussed further below, holds over half of all the world’s water. 

About 97 percent of all of the water available on Earth is saltwater. This is the water found in our oceans, and, while we can’t drink or use it, it’s still important. This means that the other 3 percent of water left in the world is fresh.

However, how much of that 3 percent can we actually access?

How much of Earth’s Water is Frozen?

When you’re thinking about how much water is on Earth, it’s important to consider water in all its sources. This includes frozen water. One of the main sources of frozen water is glaciers. Ice caps are also a significant source. The Antarctica Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Sheet contain as much as 99 percent of all the ice on the Earth. 

But how much of all freshwater is that?

You’ll be surprised to learn that frozen water actually makes up 2 percent of all the water on Earth. This means that there is only 1 percent of freshwater available for access. 

Largest Ocean in the World

pacific ocean during a typhoon
The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.

©Artem Pachkovskyi/Shutterstock.com

The Pacific Ocean is both the largest and deepest ocean in the entire world. Of all the water on Earth, over half of it can be found in this ocean. The Pacific Ocean is so large that if you were to push all of the continents together to make one single, mega-continent (think Pangea), then it could all fit into the Pacific Ocean!

This ocean covers as much as 63 million square miles, if not more. The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, containing around 20 percent of the water in the world.

Largest Lake in the World

Caspian sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world by surface distance.

©Marina Khlybova/Shutterstock.com

Although it has “sea” in the name, the largest lake in the world is actually the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea is a completely inland body of water. It is nestled in the Middle East, with Iran to the south and Turkmenistan to the east. The Caspian Sea covers up to 143,244 square miles. 

However, this is by surface distance only. There’s actually another contender for the largest lake in the world, this one being based on volume.

The largest lake in the world according to volume would be Lake Baikal in Russia. It contains as much as 5,521 cubic miles of water. This means that it actually contains around 20 percent of the world’s total freshwater!

Largest River in the World

The Amazon River is the world's biggest river
By volume, the largest river in the world is the Amazon River.

©iStock.com/Rhett Ayers Butler – Mongabay

The largest river in the world by volume is the Amazon River in South America. The Amazon River begins in Peru and flows northeast into the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. It is estimated to be around 4000 miles long, making it one of the longest rivers in the world as well. 

Like the Caspian Sea, 20 percent of the world’s freshwater can be found in the Amazon River. 

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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