Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world. It is located in eastern central Africa, straddling the equator.
The lake is not part of the rift valley system and, at only 100 meter deep, is very wide and shallow. Lake Victoria acts as a boundary between Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, yet international water travel between the countries is no longer possible. Rather unusually, water inflow and outflow to lake Victoria is dominated by rainfall and evaporation rather than rivers. The lake is fed by several small streams; however, it receives 85% of its inflow from rain over the lake itself. The only outlet for Lake Victoria is the Victoria Nile west of Jinja. Lake Victoria has dried up completely three times since it formed. These drying cycles are probably related to past ice ages, when precipitation declined globally. The lake has more than 3,000 islands, many of which are inhabited.
The lake attracted great interest from Europeans after its discovery. In 1858, John Hanning Speke was the first European to cite the vast lake as the source of the White Nile. The assertion was ridiculed until H.M. Stanley eventually proved him right in 1875. The colonial powers had hoped to open a navigable route along the Nile to the Mediterranean. Their attempts to reach Uganda across the lake were also responsible for the creation of the East African Railway and the colonization of the Kenyan Highlands.