By volume, Lake Kariba is the largest artificial lake and reservoir in the world. It is located on the Zambezi River, about halfway between the river's source and mouth, about 1300 kilometres upstream from the Indian Ocean, and lies along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam at its north-eastern end, flooding the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River.
Lake Kariba is over 280 kilometers (175 mi) long and up to 32 kilometers (21 mi) in width. It covers an area of 5,580 square kilometers (2,150 sq mi) and its storage capacity is an immense 185 cubic kilometers (115.4 cu mi). The mean depth of the lake is 29 meters (95 ft); the maximum depth is 97 meters (320 ft). It is one of the world's largest human-made reservoirs. The enormous mass of water (approximately 180,000,000,000,000 kilograms, or 180 petagrams [200 billion tons]) is believed to have caused induced seismicity in the seismically active region, including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitudes on the Richter scale.
Before Lake Kariba was filled, the existing vegetation was burned, creating a thick layer of fertile soil on land that would become the lake bed. As a result the ecology of Lake Kariba is vibrant. A number of fish species have been introduced to the lake, notably the sardine-like Kapenta (transported from Lake Tanganyika), which now supports a thriving commercial fishery. Other inhabitants of Lake Kariba include Nile crocodiles and hippopotamus.
Game fish, particularly Tiger fish, which was among the indigenous species of the Zambezi river system, now thrive on the Kapenta, which in turn encourage tourism. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe are now attempting to develop the tourism industry along their respective coasts of Lake Kariba.
Fish eagles, cormorants and other water birds patrol the shorelines, as do occasional herds of elephants.
Courtesy of Wikipedia