Lake Victoria is more like a vast inland sea than a lake. It covers an area of 69,490 sq km (26,830 sq miles), the size of Ireland, comparatively. Of this, 51% is in Tanzania, 43% in Uganda, and only 6% in Kenya. It is the largest fresh water body in Africa and the second only to Lake Superior on the Canada-US border. Separated from the Serengeti National Park by only a few km of land, L. Victoria lies between the Eastern and the Western arms of the Great Rift Valley at 1,133m (3720ft) a.s.l. It is 337km (209miles) long and 240km (149miles) wide.
Lake Victoria was known to the Africans in Tanzania as Nyanza and to the Arabs as Ukerewe after an island in the lake of that name. An English explorer, John Hanning Speke, renamed it after his Queen, ‘VICTORIA’. To the Victorian Britain, obsessed with exploration, “L. Victoria contained geographical secrets after the discovery of America”. This secret inspired a number of grueling excursions by many armchair geographers such as Diogenes (a Greek merchant), Ptolemy, Dr. David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, John Speke, and other more, to Africa to the finding and affirmation that L. Victoria was indeed the source of River Nile. The Lake is 750,000 million years old and the Nile is the longest river in Africa, 6700km (4164miles)
For centuries, River Nile has provided Egypt’s lifeblood, water. River Nile, despite it having no rain in the drier months each year, it continued pouring water through its eastern Sahara, one of the world’s driest desert areas, into the Mediterranean Sea.
- Victoria’s fishing industries and the agricultural land around its shores has made the area, one of the major pivots in the economy of Tanzania. Although fishing is a traditional mainstay of the region, cotton and coffee, are increasing the importance of the area, especially in Mwanza Region.. Telecommunications and transportation is also a growing industry and has encouraged growth in the region, which has made it one of the most populated areas in the country. Trade with neighboring Uganda to the north- east and Kenya to the north means that the ports on L. Victoria are bustling with growth and economic activities. The commercial fishing industry in L. Victoria has at least 10 fishing factories in Tanzania, filleting Nile perch for transport by plane to European destinations.
For visitors, the lake offers spectacular trips to the jewel Rubondo National Park and other scenic islands of rocks, in addition to the boat- and canoe- fishing of varieties of fresh water tropical fish, many of which are exported to aquariums all over the world. Its shores are peaceful and pristine, and offer a quite alternative to the constant and bustle of a safari itinerary! Participation in various cultural programmes on offer, around the area gives another aromatic experience. Bird watching around the lake in the wet season is by far rated a sight!