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Lake Edward
NASA Landsat photo of Lake Edward and Lake George showing the Kazinga Channel between them
Coordinates 0°20′S 29°36′E / 0.333°S 29.6°E / -0.333; 29.6Coordinates: 0°20′S 29°36′E / 0.333°S 29.6°E / -0.333; 29.6
Primary inflows Nyamugasani
Primary outflows Semliki River
Catchment area 12,096 km²
Basin countries Democratic Republic of Congo
Max. length 77 km
Max. width 40 km
Surface area 2,325 km²
Average depth 17m
Max. depth 112m
Water volume 39.5km³
Surface elevation 912 m

Lake Edward or Edward Nyanza is the smallest of the African Great Lakes. It is located in the western Great Rift Valley, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with its northern shore a few kilometers south of the Equator. The lake was named by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley in honour of Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales.

Lake Edward from Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park



Stanley first saw the lake in 1875, and thinking it was part of Lake Albert, named it Beatrice Gulf. On his second visit in 1888 through 1889, he realized that there were two independent lakes, and gave it its current name.[1] In the 1970s and 1980s, Uganda and Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) renamed it Lake Idi Amin or Lake Idi Amin Dada after Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. After his overthrow in 1979, the name was changed back to Lake Edward.


Topography and drainage

Lake Edward lies at an elevation of 920 metres, is 77 km long by 40 km wide at its maximum points, and covers a total surface area of 2,325 km² (the 15th largest on the continent). The lake is fed by the Nyamugasani, the Ishasha, the Rutshuru, and the Rwindi rivers. It empties to the north via the Semliki River into Lake Albert. Lake George to the northeast empties into Lake Edward via the Kazinga Channel.

The western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley towers up to 2000 m above the western shore of the lake. The southern and eastern shores are flat lava plains. The Ruwenzori Mountains lie 20 km north of the lake.[2]


The region shows much evidence of volcanic activity in the last 5000 years. The Katwe-Kikorongo and Bunyaruguru Volcanic Fields, with extensive cones and craters, lie either side of the Kazinga Channel on the north-west shore of the lake. It is thought that Lakes George and Edward have been joined as one larger lake in the past, but lava from these fields flowed in and divided it, leaving only the Kazinga Channel as the remnant of the past union. To the south, the May-ya-Moto thermally active volcano lies 30 km away, and the Nyamuragira volcano in the western Virunga Mountains lies 80 km south, but its lava flows have reached the lake in the past.[2]

The Katwe-Kikorongo field features dozens of large craters and cones covering an area of 30 km by 15 km between lakes Edward and George, and includes seven crater lakes. The largest of these, the 2.5-kilometre-long Lake Katwe, occupies a crater 4 km across and is separated from Lake Edward by just 300 m of land. The crater is about 100 m deep, and Lake Katwe's surface is about 40 m lower than Lake Edward's. It is remarkable that the volcanic origin of this area south-east of the Ruwenzoris was not known until reported by G. F. Scott Elliot in 1894. Stanley visited Lake Katwe in 1889 and noted the deep depression, the salinity of the lake, and a spring of sulphurous water nearby, but failed to connect this to volcanism.[3]

The similarly-sized Bunyaruguru field on the other side of the Kazinga Channel contains about 30 crater lakes, some larger than Katwe.


Lake Edward lies completely within the Virunga National Park (Congo) and the Queen Elizabeth National Park (Uganda) and does not have extensive human habitation on its shores, except at Ishango (DRC) in the north, home to a park ranger training facility. About two-thirds of its waters are in the DR Congo and one third in Uganda. Apart from Ishango, the main Congolese settlement in the south is Vitshumbi, while the Ugandan settlements are Mweya and Katwe in the north-east, near the crater lake of that name, which is the chief producer of salt for Uganda. The Mweya Safari Lodge is the main tourist facility, serving both Lake Edward and Lake Katwe. The nearest cities are Kasese in Uganda to the north-east and Butembo in DR Congo, to the north-west, which are respectively about 50 km and 150 km distant by road.[4]


Rivers and lakes of Uganda.
Click image to enlarge.

Lake Edward is home to many species of fish, including populations of Bagrus docmac, Sarotherodon niloticus, Sarotherodon leucostictus, and over 50 species of Haplochromis and other haplochromine species, of which only 8 are formally described. Fishing is an important activity among local residents. Fauna living on the banks of the lake – including chimpanzees, elephants, crocodiles, and lions – are protected by the national parks. The area is also home to many perennial and migratory bird species.


  1. ^ Arnold-Baker, Charles (2001) The Companion to British History, Rev. Ed., London : Routledge, ISBN 0-415-18583-1, p. 406
  2. ^ a b Google Earth/Geographic Features/Volcanoes
  3. ^ Holmes, A. and Harwood, H.F. (1932) "Petrology of the Volcanic Fields East and South-East of Ruwenzori, Uganda", Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 88 (1-4), p. 370–442, doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1932.088.01-04.16
  4. ^ Carte Routière et Touristique Michelin (1996) Afrique Nord-Est et Arabie, map scale 1:4 000 000, Paris : Pneu Michelin

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ALBERT EDWARD NYANZA, a lake of Central Africa, the southern of the two western reservoirs of the Nile. It lies in the Albertine rift-valley between 0° 8' and 0° 40' S. and 29° 28' and 29° 52' E., at an elevation of 3004 ft. above the sea. It is roughly oval in shape and has no deep indentations. On its N.E. side it is connected by a winding channel, 25 m. long and from a quarter of a mile to a mile wide, flowing between high banks, with a smaller sheet of water, Lake Dweru, which extends north of the equator. Albert Edward Nyanza has a length of 44 m. and a breadth of 32 m. (maximum measurement). Dweru is about 20 m. long and 10 across at its widest part. The area of the two lakes is approximately 820 sq. m., or about the size of Leicestershire, England. A swampy plain, traversed by the Ruchuru and other rivers, extends south of the Nyanza and was once covered by its waters. The plain contains several salt-pans, and at the S.E. corner are numerous geysers. Along the eastern shore the low land extends to Kamarangu, a point about midway between the south and north ends of the lake, a considerable stretch of ground intervening between the wall of the rift-valley and the water, two terraces being clearly defined. The euphorbia trees and other vegetation on the lower terrace are of small size and apparently of recent origin. At some distance from the lake runs a belt of forest. North of Kamarangu the wall of the valley approaches the water in a series of bluffs some 300 to 350 ft. high. At the N.E. end the hills again recede and the plain widens to include Dweru. On the west side of the Nyanza the wall of the rift-valley runs close to the lake shore and at the N.W. corner the mountains close in on the water. North of the lake a high alluvial plain stretches to the southern slopes of the Ruwenzori mountains. From Ruwenzori a subsidiary range, known as the Kipura mountains, runs due south to the lake shore, where it ends in a low rounded hill. In general, the plain rises above the lake in a series of bold bluffs, a wide margin of swamp separating them from the water. The Semliki, the only outlet of the lake, issues from its N.W. end. Round the north-eastern shore of the lake are numerous crater lakes, many salt, the most remarkable being that of Katwe. This lake lies west of the Dweru channel and is separated from Albert Edward Nyanza by a ridge of land, not more than 160 ft. in breadth. The sides of this ridge run down steeply to the water on either side. The waters of the Katwe lake have a beautiful rose colour which becomes crimson in the shadows. The salt is highly prized and is exported to great distances.

The main feeder of Albert Edward Nyanza, and western head-stream of the Nile, the Ruchuru, rises on the north side of the volcanoes north of Lake Kivu (see Mfumbiro). On reaching the level plain 15 m. from the lake its waters become brackish, and the vegetation on its banks is scanty. The reedy marshes near its mouth form a retreat for a primitive race of fishermen. Lake Dweru, the shores of which are generally high, is fed by the streams from the eastern slopes of the Ruwenzori range. One of these, the Mpango, is a larger river than the Ruchuru.

The outlet of the Nyanza, the Semliki, and the part played by the lake in the Nile system are described under Albert Nyanza.

A feature of Lake Albert Edward Nyanza is the thick haze which overhangs the water during the dry season, blotting out from view the mountains. In the rains, when the sky is clear, the magnificent panorama of hills encircling the lake on the west and north-west is revealed. The lake water is clear of a light green colour, and distinctly brackish. Fish abound, as do waterfowl, crocodiles and, in the southern swamps, hippopotami. In the rainy season the lake is subject to violent storms.

The entire area of Albert Edward Nyanza was found, by the work of the Anglo-German Boundary Commission of 1902-1904, to lie within the limits of the sphere of influence of the Congo Free State as defined in the agreement of the 12th of May 1894 between that state and Great Britain. Dweru was discovered in 1875 by H. M. Stanley, then travelling westward from Uganda, and by him was named Beatrice Gulf in the belief that it was part of Albert Nyanza. In 1888-1889 Stanley, approaching the Nile region from the west, traced the Semliki to its source in Albert Edward Nyanza, which lake he discovered, naming it after Albert Edward, prince of Wales, afterwards Edward VII. Stanley also discovered the connecting channel between the larger lake and Dweru. The accurate mapping of the lake was mainly the work of British officials and travellers, such as Scott Elliott, Sir F. D. Lugard, Ewart Grogan, J. E. Moore and Sir H. Johnston; while Emin Pasha and Franz Stuhlmann, deputygovernor (1891) of German East Africa, explored its southern shores. (See ALBERT NYANZA and NILE, and the authorities there quoted.) (W. E. G.; F. R. C.)

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