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Lake Tanganyika – general information

Lake Tanganyika belongs to the East African great lakes. It is the second largest freshwater lake in the world by depth (1470 meters) after lake Baikal in Siberia. Also, second largest by volume (17,800 km3). It is the world’s longest lake (1900 km shoreline). The lake is located off the coast of four countries: Burundi at northeast, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from the west, Tanzania from east and Zambia from the south. Lake Tanganyika has a steep rocky coastline with sandy shores and river estuaries. The lake fed by a number of great rivers. The largest rivers discharging into the lake are the Rusizi at the north edge of the lake, the Malagarasi, Ifume & Kalambo that located along the east coast, and the Lufubu & Luangwa along the west coast. Its only outlet is the Lukuga River, which flows westward to join the Zaire river draining into the Atlantic ocean. Tanganyika, the oldest of the big African lakes with estimated age of 9-12 million years, has the most diverse fauna, with the most diverse endemic cichlids (~180) of 12 distinct tribes which include substrate spawners as well as mouth-brooders. Lake Tanganyika also inhabits over 50 endemic non-cichlid species such as spine eels (Mastacembelidae), carps (Cyprindae) among them the Stolothrissa tanganicae (Regan, 1917) , rainbow fish etc. The littoral and sublittoral zone (down to a depth of 40-50 meters) populate most fish species, most of them are cichlids. Photosynthetic algae and invertebrates are the main food source for fish. Below 50 meters, at the benthic and bathypelagic zones, the number of fish species decreases due to the low amounts of dissolved oxygen. The main food source is organic matter which originates from the pelagic zone The local economy relies greatly on fishery products, in particular, the “Tanganyika sardine”,Stolothrissa tanganicae (Herring family). Important ports along Lake Tanganyika are Bujumbura (Burundi), Kalemi (DRC), Ujiji and Kigoma (Tanzania). Regular ship lines connect Kigoma, Kalemie and other coastal towns as essential part of the inland traffic system of East Africa. .

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