The Seven International Lakes Of South America

Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, is shared between Peru and Bolivia.
Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, is shared between Peru and Bolivia.

An international lake is one that is shared by more than one country. Such a lake straddles international boundaries. Often, the countries sharing the lake enter into agreements as to the sharing of the lake’s waters for economic or other benefits. South America has seven such international lakes. Six of these seven lakes lie on the border between Chile and Argentina. Only one South American international lake, Lake Titicaca, lies at the border between Peru and Bolivia.

The Seven International Lakes Of South America

Vintter Lake-Argentina/Chile

Argentina and Chile are the basin countries of Vintter Lake. In the former country, it is called Lago General Vintter while in the latter, it is known as Lago Palena. The lake extends through the Tehuelches and Languiñeo departments of Argentina’s Languiñeo Department. In Chile, the lake occupies part of Palena Province in the Los Lagos Region. The Vintter Lake is the source of the Palena River which is noted for fly fishing for rainbow trout and brook.

Fagnano Lake-Argentina/Chile

Fagnano Lake is another lake stretching between the two countries of Chile and Argentina. It is located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago’s main island which is shared by Argentina and Chile. The lake is thus part of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego Province and Chile’s Magallanes and Antártica Chilena Region. Fagnano Lake has an area of 645 square km of which 606 square km is part of Argentina and only 39 square km lies in Chile. The Azopardo River drains the lake at its western end.

Cochrane Lake-Argentina/Chile

This international lake of South America also straddles the Argentina-Chile border. It is a glacier-fed lake that is located on the eastern edge of the southern Andes. The Lake is part of the Capitán Prat Province of Chile and the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina. It is named Pueyrredón in Argentina and Lord Cochrane in Chile. The Chilean part of the lake has an area of 175 square km while the Argentine portion encompasses an area of 150 square km. The Cochrane River leaves from the western edge of the lake to drain into the Baker River.

O'Higgins Lake-Argentina/Chile

The O’Higgins Lake, as it is called in Chile, straddles the Argentina-Chile border. It is part of the Chilean Capitán Prat Province and the Argentinian Lago Argentino Department. The lake is called San Martín in Argentina. It has a surface area of 1,013 square km of which 554 square km is located in Chile and the rest in Argentina. The O’Higgins Lake is the deepest in the Americas. Its maximum depth is 836 meters. The lake is fed by the O'Higgins Glacier and is drained by the Pascua River that finally empties into the Pacific Ocean.

General Carrera Lake-Argentina/Chile

Known as the General Carrera Lake in Chile and Lake Buenos Aires in Argentina, this international lake is shared by these two countries. The total area of the lake is 1,850 square km of which 880 square km is part of Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province and 970 square km is part of Chile. General Carrera Lake is of glacial origin. The Baker River drains the lake into the Pacific Ocean. The Andes mountains surround the lake.

Viedma Lake-Argentina/Chile

The Viedma Lake can also be regarded as an international lake. However, its boundaries are less well-defined than those of the others on the list. The Lake derives its name from Antonio de Viedma, a Spanish explorer, who was the first European to reach its shores in 1783. Lake Viedma is located in the Lago Argentino Department of Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province. The western shores of the lake extend into the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which is located at the Argentina/Chile border. This part is considered to be part of the Última Esperanza Province of Chile but the area is disputed. The Viedma Glacier located at the western end is its source of water. The La Leona River drains it.

Lake Titicaca-Bolivia/Peru

Lake Titicaca is the only international lake in South America that is not part of Argentina and Chile. It is shared by Peru and Bolivia. It is a massive and deep lake located in the Andes. It is often known as the world’s "highest navigable lake.” The surface elevation of this lake is 12,507 feet. It is the continent’s largest lake both by volume and surface area.


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