There are approximately 117 million lakes in the world — that's about four percent of land surface covered by these large bodies of water. However, there is a bit of ambiguity over what constitutes a lake; National Geographic defines it as a large body of water surrounded by land, but doesn't specify how large it needs to be. While this lack of official data makes it difficult to definitively rank the countries with the most lakes, there are some places that are considered to have a comparatively large number of lakes. If you want to vacation somewhere where you're sure to come across a surplus of stunning vacation spots, here are seven of the countries with the most lakes in the world.


aerial view of lake and mountains in Norway
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Norway is known for its beautiful winter landscapes, ski slopes, and Viking history — but it is also home to nearly half a million lakes. Two of these lakes in particular are notable: Hornindalsvatnet Lake and Mjøsa Lake.

At approximately 1,680 feet deep, Hornindalsvatnet Lake is the 12th deepest lake globally and the number one deepest lake in Europe. It is also considered to be one of the clearest lakes in Europe. This is due to the fact that it is untouched by local glacier streams.

Norway also boasts the second deepest lake in Europe: Mjøsa Lake. This is the country's largest lake, and is known for its excellent fishing — it has 20 species of fish, some of which can grow up to 33 pounds.


lake and rainforest in Brazil
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Although Brazil is most famous for the Amazon River, it also has a large number of lakes. Many of these were made by humans to provide irrigation or hydroelectric power. In fact, nearly 80 percent of Brazil's energy is created domestically from hydroelectric dams. Brazil's three largest artificial lakes are the Sobradinho at 1,533 square miles, the Tucuruí at 1,089 square miles, and the Balbina at 911 square miles.

While Brazil does have a large number of artificial lakes, it also has some beautiful natural ones. One particularly lovely attraction is the Gruta Do Lago Azul, or the Blue Lake Grotto. This is one of the largest flooded caves in the world, and it gets its name from the stunningly blue water of the lake inside.


Swedish lake in winter
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Sweden is home to approximately 96,000 lakes, including Vänern, the third largest lake in Europe. At its deepest point, Lake Vänern is approximately 88 feet deep. A sunken Viking ship was even discovered in its depths. However, Vänern isn't Sweden's deepest lake — that's Hornavan Lake, which has a depth of approximately 748 feet. Hornavan has been often utilized for power, and is also a common place for locals to fish — trout and whitefish are the species most commonly found here.

If you happen to get thirsty on your vacation, you might take a trip to Vättern Lake, the second largest lake in the country. The water here is almost transparent, and it is said that the high quality of the water means that it is safe to drink directly from the lake. In fact, Vättern lake water is used as drinking water for the local area, and is only slightly processed before it reaches people's homes.


lake and mountains in China
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China has a large number of both freshwater and salt lakes. The largest salt lake in the country is called Qinghai Lake, or Koko Nur ("blue lake"). Qinghai Lake spreads across an astonishing 2,847 square miles and is fed by upwards of 40 rivers. It is home to Cormorant Island and Egg Island, both of which are local bird sanctuaries.

China's largest freshwater lake is Poyang Lake, which can be found in the Jiangxi Province. Poyang Lake has a surface area of approximately 2,174 square miles, but it is relatively shallow — just 25 feet deep on average. This area is an incredibly important wetland, providing habitats for the white-naped crane, the black stork, and the white crane.

United States

Lake Michigan beach
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The United States contains at least part of all five Great Lakes — Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. These are the largest lakes in the country, covering over 94,000 square miles of land. Combined, they are the world's largest collection of freshwater lakes, making up about 21 percent of surface freshwater on the planet.

Outside of the Great Lakes, the largest lake in the country is Utah's Great Salt Lake, measuring about 75 miles long. It gets its name from its high saline content, which is caused by its lack of an outlet for the salt brought in by its tributary rivers. Due to its saltiness, the Great Salt Lake contains no fish and very little aquatic life; the main species living there are brine flies and brine shrimp.


Lake Baikal in Russia frozen over
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With approximately 2 million lakes, Russia is definitely one of the most lake-dense countries in the world. It is home to the planet's deepest lake, Lake Baikal, which has a maximum depth of about 5,387 feet. Lake Baikal contains nearly a quarter of the world's freshwater and supports a wide variety of animals, including the Baikal seal. In 1996, this lake was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Russia also contains the 500,000 year old Lake Nero. This beautiful lake has attracted settlers for 6,000 years, and holds a great deal of cultural and historical significance to locals.


Joffre Lakes in summer, British Columbia, Canada
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While there is contention over exactly how many lakes each country has and how they should be ranked, most experts agree that Canada has the highest number of lakes in the world. This country has over 2 million lakes, which in total cover nine percent of Canada's land. One of the most popular lakes in the country is Lake Louise, which sits nestled among the beautiful mountains of Alberta. Its clear green waters attract numerous tourists, who can go boating or ice fishing.

Canada is also home to the unique Spotted Lake, which has a dark surface covered with light spots. Its odd appearance is caused by mineral deposits, and makes for a striking view in the summer months.