Which Country Has the Most Lakes?

By Kimutai Gilbert on October 22 2019 in Environment

An aerial view of several lakes.
An aerial view of several lakes.

Identifying the country with the most lakes is not a simple task. The ambiguity regarding the definition of a lake is one of the main reasons why the task is so difficult. According to National Geographic, a lake is simply a large body of water that is surrounded by land. National Geographic notes that small bodies of water surrounded by land should be referred to as ponds. From this definition, no sizes have been stipulated to distinguish ponds and lakes apart which causes ambiguity. Another challenge that comes with identifying the number of lakes in a country is that many lakes are undocumented and some lack names. That being said, it is estimated that the country with the most lakes in the world is either Canada or Finland.


Canada may have the highest number of lakes in the world. Canada's large size may be a contributing factor to the number of lakes in the country. The lakes began developing due to the intense glacial activities. Approximately 60% of the world's lakes are found in Canada. The Government of Canada has reported that there are 31,752 major lakes in the country. These lakes each cover an area of over 3 km squared (1.8 miles squared). The number of lakes that cover an area of over 100km squared (62 miles squared) is 561. It is also estimated that the number of small lakes is close to two million. About 9% of Canada is covered by freshwater. The largest lake that is entirely in Canada's territory is the Great Bear Lake which covers an area of approximately 31,328 km squared (19,466 miles squared).


If we take into consideration the number of official lakes that are claimed by a country, Finland would overtake Canada by a large margin. According to Wikipedia, Finland has 187,888 official lakes that each have an area of over 500 meters squared. Approximately 57,000 of these lakes have an area of over 10,000 meters squared. These statistics have caused debate over which country has the highest number of lakes. The largest lake in Finland is Saimaa, which has a size of 1,377 sq km. 

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