9 largest lakes in Russia

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Lakes are Russia's national pride and, of course, its wealth. In the country, there are (it's scary to imagine) about 2,000,000 salty, fresh, deep, shallow, etc. But not all of them can boast of their large size. To your attention the most unique and largest.

Rating of the largest lakes in Russia: top 9 largest and most unusual

Nomination a place Lake Area Maximum depth
Rating of the largest lakes in Russia 8 White lake 1,290 km2 20 m.
7 Vats 1 708-2 269 KM2 10 M.
6 Chudsko-pskovskoe 3 555 KM2 15 M.
5 Hanka 3,030-5,010 KM2 6.5 M.
4 Taimyr 4 560 KM2 26 M.
3 Onega 9 720 KM2 127 M.
2 Ladoga (Ladoga) 17 870 KM2 230 M.
1 Baikal 31 722 KM2 1642 M.
Bonus Caspian Sea 390,000 KM2 1025 M.

White lake

Rating: 4.3

White lake

Area: 1,290 km2

Maximum depth: 20 m

Beloe Lake, located in the Vologda region, has a tectonic origin – it is the result of low-amplitude fluctuations of the earth's crust. The reservoir got its name for a reason: the water in it is clean, and the bottom is rocky, mostly clayey. Moreover, this clay is small, white. Periodically, it muddies the water, giving it a whitish tint.

The shores of the lake are mostly gentle, its shape is rounded, the length and width are very close – 43 and 32 km, respectively. The average depth of Beloozero is 5 m, there are holes up to 15 m deep. The shores of the reservoir are very shallow: in some places its depth does not exceed 1 m.

The total number of rivers and streams flowing into Beloe Lake reaches 60, and only one river flows out of it – Sheksna. It flows into the Volga. That is, the lake belongs to the Caspian Sea. The territory of the reservoir was explored for a very long time: the first mentions of it are found in the annals of the 10th century. In ancient times, the Vytegorsko-Belozersky route passed through it. In the 20th century, the White Lake became part of the Volga-Baltic waterway connecting the basins of the Caspian and Baltic seas.

The traffic on the lake is very intense, which leads to an increase in the turbidity of the water. The situation is aggravated by the annual work to deepen the navigable sections of the lake: they erode bottom sediments saturated with copper and increase the level of clay suspension in the water.


Rating: 4.4


Area: 1 708-2269 km2

Maximum depth: 10 m

The largest lake in Western Siberia. Vats are an endless brackish reservoir. The latter means that the salinity level of the water makes it harsh in taste and undrinkable without pretreatment. Translated from the Türkic, the name of the lake means 'a large vessel'. And, indeed, Chany is of considerable size: the reservoir passes through the territory of 5 districts of the Novosibirsk region.

The age of Chana is estimated at about 10-13 thousand years. Historically, the lake is characterized by fluctuations in the water level. Experts have noted a significant reduction in the area of ​​the lake over the past 200 years. The largest indicator of the area of ​​Lake Chany in the entire history of observations was noted in the 18th century: then the size of the reservoir reached 12,000 km2. By the 1840s, it was divided into several bodies of water and lakes (areas with a greater depth compared to the surrounding water space). Since that time, Chana began to decline rapidly. At the beginning of the 20th century, its area was only 3400 km2.

The reservoir is of great importance for fishing: 16 species of fish live here. The most numerous populations are carp, pike perch, carp, and perch. Pike, bream, roach are found slightly less frequently. The water in the lake usually freezes in the second half of October, and the ice breaks up by May. In low water, winter death (death of fish from oxygen starvation) destroys a significant part of the fish population. In 2012, work was carried out to deepen and clear one of the lake channels, which helped to prevent the death of fish in winter.

Interesting fact. In bad weather, very large waves are possible on the water surface. Several cases of the death of people were recorded who were at this unfortunate time on the lake in boats.

Vats are an important migration point for many water birds. Here you can find, among other things, rare species: the lapwing, the ghost, the golden eagle, the white-tailed eagle, etc. In the northern part of the lake, in 1958, the Kirzinsky reserve was organized, on the territory of which the following are limited: drainage measures are also prohibited. In 1994, the lake was included in the list of wetlands of international importance.


Rating: 4.5


Area: 3555 km2

Maximum depth: 15 m

This is not even a lake, but a whole lake complex, consisting of three parts: Teply, Pskov and Peipsi lakes. The Chudsko-Pskov freshwater reservoir is considered a relic of a glacial reservoir that once existed on the site of the modern one. The current bottom relief of the lake was finally formed about 12 thousand years ago.

The reservoir is actually located on the Russian-Estonian border, therefore, most of the Russian coast and a number of lake islands are limited to visit, but on the Estonian side there is no border zone: unhindered access to the lake is everywhere allowed.

Interesting fact. It was on the ice of Lake Peipsi in 1242 that the famous Battle of the Ice took place – one of the largest battles of that time. It took place between the Russian army led by Alexander Nevsky and the Teutonic knights. In memory of this event, in 1992 a monument to Alexander Nevsky was erected near the village of Kobylye Gorodishche (Pskov region).

About 30 rivers flow into the lake, and only one flows out – Narva. This means that the Chudsko-Pskovskoye runoff is wholly owned by the Baltic Sea. The reservoir is a well-flowing one: the annual inflow of water in it is about half of its water mass. Despite the shallow depth of the lake and its insignificant flooding during the spring flood, the area of ​​flooded territories can be colossal – up to 1000 km2. This is due to the fact that vast swampy and low-lying areas adjoin the gentle banks of the reservoir.


Rating: 4.6


Area: 3030-5010 km2

Maximum depth: 6.5 m

The largest and one of the oldest lakes in Primorsky Krai is located on the border with China: the northern part of the reservoir belongs to its territory. The area of ​​the Khanka water surface is not constant: the indicator fluctuates depending on climatic changes. 24 rivers flow into the reservoir, and only one flows out – the Sungacha, which, in turn, flows into the Ussuri, and then into the Amur. On the northern bank of the Khanka, there is the Malaya Khanka lake, separated by a narrow strip of sand, which belongs to China.

The flora and fauna of the reservoir is incredibly diverse. In this connection (according to the Ramsar Convention) the territory of the lake in 1976 received the status of wetlands of international importance. And in 1990, a natural reserve of national importance Khankaisky was organized here. A few years later, the governments of the two countries decided to create a joint Russian-Chinese reserve on the basis of Khanka (from Russia) and Xinkai Hu (from China). This is how the international reserve 'Lake Khanka' appeared.

The lake basin's wetlands are unique. The coast of the reservoir is mostly swampy; there are also meadows, meadow-forest, steppe vegetation areas and even forests. The lake is rich in fish (52 species live here). The populations of catfish, carp, silver carp and snakehead predominate. There are many aquatic invertebrates, some of which are endemic.

The so-called floodplains are a characteristic phenomenon for Hanka. These are areas of the water surface covered with dense thickets. The thickets are formed by sedges and grasses, forming a strong sod.

Since Lake Khanka is shallow, it warms up perfectly: in summer there are many people who want to relax and even swim in the reservoir, despite its rather muddy water and the lack of equipped beaches. From the western side of the Khanka, its opposite shore is not visible, which gives the impression of a sea area.

Interesting fact. The Primorsky Territory has chosen Lake Khanka among several attractions – contenders for the new ten symbols of Russia.


Rating: 4.7


Area: 4560 km2

Maximum depth: 26 m

Lake Taimyr is considered the second largest lake after Lake Baikal in the Asian part of the country. This is a really large body of water, the northernmost in the world among its similar giants. Its water surface is covered with ice for 10 months a year, and almost 85% of Taimyr is frozen to the bottom in winter. Even in summer, the water temperature in it rarely rises above +7 0С. And, nevertheless, living creatures are found here: Taimyr is the habitat of Arctic fish species, such as char, whitefish, etc.

Taimyr is located at the foot of the country's northernmost mountain system, Byrranga, far beyond the Arctic Circle, in the tundra zone, where there is permafrost. Despite the abundance of snow in winter, there is little snow cover on the surface of the lake: strong winds and mainly flat areas prevent this. In summer, storms are frequent here, strongly muddying the water. Taimyr is characterized by fluctuations in the water level, leading to a significant change in the area of ​​the reservoir by spring (up to -50%).

A number of certain factors, including significant changes in the water level in the lake (seasonal, secular, etc.), significant temperature fluctuations throughout the year, as well as the large age of the mountain range from the point of view of geology, lead to intensive destruction of its northern rocks. In this area of ​​Taimyr, strong rockfalls are frequent in summer.


Rating: 4.8


Area: 9720 km2

Maximum depth: 127 m

Lake Onega is the second largest freshwater reservoir in Europe (second only to Ladoga). It is located on the territory of two regions and the Republic of Karelia. Included in the Baltic Sea basin. The reservoir can hardly be called shallow: its average depth is about 30 m. The basin of Lake Onega is located at the junction of large geological structures – the Russian platform and the Baltic shield.

In early Russian written records, there is another name for the lake – Onego. It is probably very ancient, since no information has yet been found on its origin. Contrary to popular belief, the Onega reservoir has absolutely nothing to do with the Onega River, which flows into the White Lake.

The basin of the lake is of glacial-tectonic origin. Sedimentary deposits of multimillion age, left after the shelf sea that once was here (sands, clays, limestone), cover the relief with a thick 200-meter stratum. In the northern part of Onega, the so-called guba is considered a frequent phenomenon – a section of a reservoir deeply protruding into the mainland. Its largest peninsula – Zaonezhie (area – 12,000 km2) is also located here.

Lake Onega is characterized by sharp and numerous rises and falls of the bottom. Troughs are not uncommon in the northern part. There are also rocky shoals, underwater ridges, pits, depressions. The predominant part of the bottom is muddy. More than 1000 water bodies flow into the lake, among which 52 rivers are more than 10 km long, and 8 – more than 100 km long. But only one follows from Onega – Svir. After the Verkhnesvirskaya hydroelectric power station was built on the river in 1953, the lake became a reservoir.

The reservoir impresses with a variety of marine flora and fauna. There are many types of fish, including commercial: sterlet, lake trout, whitefish, pike, lamprey, silver bream, bream, catfish, pike perch, perch and many others.

Interesting fact. In the water area of ​​Onega, every summer (since 1972) the country's largest sailing regatta is held – the Russian open sailing championship. Cruising yachts take part in the sporting event.

The main attraction of the lake is the Kizhi island, where the eponymous historical, architectural and ethnographic museum-reserve is located. There are about 90 monuments of wooden architecture: from modern times to the 15th century.

Ladoga (Ladoga)

Rating: 4.9


Area: 17 870 km2

Maximum depth: 230 m

The largest freshwater lake in Europe, belonging to the Baltic Sea basin. About 40 rivers and large streams flow into the reservoir, and one river flows out – the Neva. In the Nestorov chronicle of the 12th century, the lake is mentioned under the name 'Nevo' (there is a connection with the name of the Neva River). Since the 13th century, the modern name comes into use. The relief of the reservoir was formed about 12,000 years ago.

A temperate climate prevails over the lake basin with a transition to a temperate marine (moderate continental) one. There is little solar heat during the year (usually no more than 60 days), which is why moisture evaporates slowly. Quite a frequent occurrence here are white nights, the duration of which sometimes exceeds 50 days.

Ladoga itself has a noticeable effect on the climate: continental air masses, passing over the lake, softening, turn into sea ones. Wind speed on the Ladoga coast is sometimes dangerously high: calm here is a rarity, and storm winds sometimes drive at a speed of 30 km / h.

The coastline of Ladoga exceeds 1000 km. Its northern part is rocky, rather indented, and forms numerous bays and peninsulas. The southern part of the coastline is weakly indented and often flooded due to the neotectonic skew of the reservoir. The relief of its bottom is also uneven: the depth of the lake increases from south to north. By the way, Ladoga is in 8th place in depth among Russian lakes.

The flora and fauna of the reservoir is incredibly diverse: about 350 species of algae grow in the water, 378 species of plankton animals, 53 species of fish (including salmon, trout, bream, pike perch, roach, pike, etc.) live. There are 256 bird species in the Ladoga area, and another 56 species can be seen here on a transit flight.

In the 70s, the water in Ladoga was considered to be practically standard clean, but not today. The reason for this is about 600 industrial enterprises that mercilessly pollute the reservoir: a huge amount of industrial waste is discharged into the lake. In addition, radioactive experiments were carried out on one of the islands of the reservoir after the Second World War. It is sad, but true: on several islands of Ladoga, radiation hazardous facilities are still functioning, and tests of radioactive substances are being carried out.


Rating: 5.0


Area: 31,722 km2

Maximum depth: 1642 m

Tectonic lake of Eastern Siberia, the deepest on the planet, the largest natural “storage” of fresh water, the largest on the continent. The huge body of water stretches 636 km in length in the form of a crescent. Its bottom in the deepest part is located 1187 m below the level of the World Ocean, but here you need to add another 455 m, which are located above this mark.

Baikal boasts not only the deepest among all existing lakes, but also an impressive average depth of 744 m. This is more than the maximum mark of many deep lakes in the world. The reserve of Baikal water is about 1/5 of the world's fresh lake water reserves. There is more of it than in all five Great Lakes of the United States.

Many rivers flow into Lake Baikal, and the numbers are very different: according to some data there are 544, according to others – 1123. Among them – 9 large and only one flows from the reservoir – Angara. The water composition of Lake Baikal deserves special attention. The water here is so clean that some stones, for example, can be seen at a depth of 40 m (more often in spring).

During the freeze-up period, Baikal freezes entirely, except for the 20-kilometer section at the source of the Angara. During severe frosts, cracks in the ice begin to break into separate fields. The cracks are 20-30 km long and 2-3 m wide. These breaks are accompanied by a deafening crack, reminiscent of a cannon shot. Thanks to cracks in the ice, the diverse aquatic world of Lake Baikal receives enough oxygen.

The Baikal bottom has a clearly defined relief: underwater banks (shallow surrounded by depth), slopes and even ridges are found here. There are 27 islands on the lake, 12 of which are large (the largest is Olkhon with an area of ​​about 700 km2).

Interesting fact. The bottom sediments of Lake Baikal reach 6 kilometers in thickness, which means that one of the highest mountains on the planet, exceeding 7000 m, rests under water.

There is a high seismic activity in the Baikal region: earthquakes are regular here. Moreover, in addition to 1-2-point ones, there are truly scary ones. A striking example of this is the Tsagan 10-point earthquake, in which a land area of ​​200 km2 was submerged.

More than 2,600 species of aquatic animals live here, most of which are endemic. This diversity is due to the large amount of oxygen throughout the depth of the reservoir. One of the endemic species of the lake, the crustacean Epishura, is a real 'savior' of Baikal (especially considering the impending ecological catastrophe): this tiny creature makes up 80% of the total biomass of zooplankton and acts as a water filter from pollution.

Caspian Sea

Caspian Sea

Area: 390,000 km2

Maximum depth: 1025 m

Bonus member of our rating. The largest enclosed body of water in the world, which is usually classified as a closed lake, is also the largest on the planet. Different peoples throughout human history have had about 70 different names. It is located at the junction of two continents and is divided into the North, Middle and South Caspian by its physical and geographical features. The length of the coastline of the Caspian Sea reaches 7000 km (including the islands). The banks of the reservoir are mostly low-lying, flat, and the surface of the water is covered with thickets in many places.

Given the huge area of ​​the reservoir, one cannot fail to mention the volume of its water: it accounts for 44% of the world's lake reserves. In depth, the Caspian is second only to Baikal and Tanganyika. The average depth is 200 m. It is noteworthy that the northern part of the lake is completely shallow, where the average depth does not exceed 4 m. The lake washes 5 countries: Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan.

The Caspian Sea is of oceanic origin. Its age reaches 13 million years. Throughout its long 'life', the Caspian Sea has repeatedly changed, often regressed. This process continues to this day (for 2016-2017, the water level in the lake dropped by 28 m).

The fauna of the Caspian is very rich: 1809 aquatic species live here, 415 of which are vertebrates. The lake contains about 90% of the world's sturgeon reserves, as well as significant reserves of pike perch, roach, etc. The marine representative of mammals, the Caspian seal, also lives in the water area.

The Caspian Sea is distinguished not only by its diverse fauna, but also by an equally diverse human activity boiling on its water surface. Here they actively extract oil and gas (proven resources – about 10 billion tons), are engaged in fishing (including industrial production), shipping is developed here, recreational resources are actively used (the Caspian is rich in mineral waters, therapeutic mud, excellent beaches), etc.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Caspian Sea was the subject of heated disputes for many years: the Caspian five could not share the reservoir. The countries came to an agreement only in 2018: it was decided that the Caspian is a sea, and only the Caspian states can manage its resources.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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