Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. Though having multiple local language names, the lake was renamed after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke, the first Briton to document it in 1858, while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton.
With a surface area of approximately 59,947 km2 (23,146 sq mi), Lake Victoria is Africa's largest lake by area, the world's largest tropical lake, and the world's second-largest fresh water lake by surface area after Lake Superior in North America. In terms of volume, Lake Victoria is the world's ninth-largest continental lake, containing about 2,424 km3 (1.965×109 acre⋅ft) of water. Lake Victoria occupies a shallow depression in Africa. The lake has a maximum depth of between 80 and 84 m (262 and 276 ft) and an average depth of 40 m (130 ft). Its catchment area covers 169,858 km2 (65,583 sq mi). The lake has a shoreline of 7,142 km (4,438 mi) when digitized at the 1:25,000 level, with islands constituting 3.7% of this length. The lake's area is divided among three countries: Kenya occupies 6% (4,100 km2 (1,600 sq mi)), Uganda 45% (31,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi)), and Tanzania 49% (33,700 km2 (13,000 sq mi)).
The lake includes many species of fish that inhabit nowhere else, especially cichlids. Invasive fish, such as the Nile perch, have driven many endemic species to extinction.