The longest and deepest freshwater lake in Africa is Lake Tanganyika. It is situated on the border of Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. It is also the second regarding depth after the Lake Baikal which is the deepest in the world.
Size and Formation
It was formed by the process of faulting. The lake is along the great rift valley and is the largest freshwater lake in the entire continent of Africa with a length of about 670 kilometers and a width of approximately 49.5 kilometers. The average depth of Lake Tanganyika is about 565 meters with a capacity of about 20,000 cubic kilometers.
The water at lower depths below 100 meters is alkaline with a pH value of about 8.9. The alkalinity decreases with the increase in depth and can also be shown by the electric conductivity at higher depths of the lake. The temperature of water on the surface of water in this lake differs from 23.5 to 28 degrees Celsius.
Rivers and Inlets
Lake Tanganyika is a freshwater lake because it has an outlet River Lukuga which drains into the Congo River. The central inlets of the lake are the Ruzizi River from Lake Kivu in Uganda and the Malagarasi River in Tanzania. Apart from these two main rivers, there are other numerous small rivers which drain its waters into Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika is within the tropics hence evaporation of lake water is very high. Though the lake experience high evaporation, it has a high volume of water due to inflow from the Ruzizi River which compensates the water lost through the process of evaporation. There are some islands in the lake; Mutondwe Island towards Zambia, as well Kibishie and Milima Islands on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lake Tanganyika is a habitat for numerous animals like the crocodiles and fishes. The common crocodiles are the Nile crocodiles and fishes are the Cichlid fish. There are more than 245 different kinds of cichlid fish in this lake which are mostly pelagic. Other non-cichlid types of fish which are native are more than 75 species.
There are parts of the Lake Tanganyika which are navigable hence ease the ferrying of passengers and cargo between Kigoma port and Mpulungu as well as between Kigoma and Bujumbura. Historically, Lake Tanganyika was used as a battleground during the second world war. The Germans used to organize and lance attacks around this area and cross the lake using ships. They were later overpowered by the British who ambushed the Germans and capture their boats in 1971.
Lake Tanganyika is among the freshwater lakes in Africa which produce a lot of fish. The fish industries have been established along the lake, and modern equipment of fishing have been put in place to reduce the problem of fish exploitation in the lake.
The greenhouse effect in Lake Tanganyika has reduced the production of fish in the lake recently. During May to September, the mixing of the nutrients which sustain the aquatic animals is lowered. The slow mixing of nutrients with water happens when the temperature increases rapidly.