There are 117 million lakes on Earth, covering 3.7 percent of the continental land surface. This doesn’t include Antarctica, Greenland or the Caspian Sea. About 90 million of these lakes are less than two football fields in size, or 0.5 to 2.5 acres.

Added altogether, the shorelines of all the world’s lakes roughly measure 250 times the length of the equator. The equator is 7,926 miles (12,756 kilometers) long.

Most of the world’s lakes are in Canada, Russia, Alaska, Sweden and Finland. Though tropical countries are also flush with lakes, the northern countries lead the lake count, because there is simply less land farther south. Thank the tectonic placement of continents, which scattered most of the world’s landmass in the Northern Hemisphere.

Most lakes lie low — 85 percent are at elevations less than 1,600 feet asl. The reasons are two-fold. First, mountainous terrain restricts lake size. Second, the countries with the most lakes were scraped flat by glaciers during the last ice age.

In Mongolia, more than 100 lakes disappeared during the 2000s from drought and heavy demand for irrigation.

  • Photographer: Christopher Della Fave
  • Country: Canada
  • State(s) Alberta
  • Location: Banff National Park
  • Year(s): 2019

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