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11 Largest Manmade Lakes in the World

The 11 largest manmade lakes in the world are created for various purposes. Unlike the ancient artificial lakes that were built solely for the purpose of irrigation, modern dams also provide electricity, flood control, water supply and recreation.

Although manmade lakes existed as far back as 3000 BC, it wasn’t until the invention of an electric generator that could be powered by hydropower that they began springing all over the world. The first hydropower plant was built in 1882 on Fox River. Vulcan Street Plant, as it was called, had installed capacity of 12.5 kW. For comparison sake, the most powerful hydropower plant today, China’s Three Gorge Dam on Yangtze River, has a capacity of 22,000 MW.

Lynn Y/

Lynn Y/

While hydropower plants have many advantages over other sources of energy, other benefits of manmade lakes can’t be ignored. Just like the biggest freshwater lakes in the world, artificial lakes have provided the nearby communities with a source of water which can be filled during the rain season and used during a drought. California could sure use few of those right about now.

These 11 manmade lakes are largest in the world by the combined volume and surface area ranking. Besides lakes’ area and capacity, a number in parenthesis reveals their rank in each category. Canada and Russia top the list, with three lakes each, while Egypt, Venezuela, Ghana, and Kazakhstan have one each. Zimbabwe and Zambia share Kariba Lake, jointly operating Kariba Dam.

11. Zeya Reservoir

Volume: 68.4 km3 (9th)

Surface Area: 2,420 km2 – 934 sq mi (20th)

Zeya Reservoir was created in 1975, by damming Zeya River in Russia’s Amur Oblast.