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Lake Rukwa is an endorheic lake in the Rukwa Valley of southwestern Tanzania.

Lake Rukwa
Lake Rukwa.png
Lake Rukwa, as seen from space.
Lake Rukwa Basin OSM.png
Locationsouthwestern Tanzania
Coordinates8°00′S 32°25′E / 8.000°S 32.417°E / -8.000; 32.417Coordinates: 8°00′S 32°25′E / 8.000°S 32.417°E / -8.000; 32.417
Catchment area88,000 km2 (34,000 sq mi)[1]
Basin countriesTanzania
Surface elevation800 metres (2,600 ft)


The alkaline Lake Rukwa lies midway between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi at an elevation of about 800 metres (2,600 ft), in a parallel branch of the rift system. Almost half of the lake lies in Uwanda Game Reserve.[2]


The lake has seen large fluctuations in its size over the years, due to varying inflow of streams. Currently it is about 180 kilometres (110 mi) long and averages about 32 kilometres (20 mi) wide, making it about 5,760 square kilometres (2,220 sq mi) in size.[3] In 1929 it was only about 48 kilometres (30 mi) long, but in 1939 it was about 128 kilometres (80 mi) long and 40 kilometres (25 mi) wide.[4] The lake may at times have been even higher and linked Lake Tanganyika with Lake Malawi; ancient shorelines suggest a final date of overflow into Tanganyika of 33,000BP.[5]

Helium discoveryEdit

In 2016, an estimated 1.53 billion cubic meters (54.2 billion standard cubic feet) volume of helium gas was discovered in Lake Rukwa worth $3.5 billion.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lake Rukwa Bathymetry Survey Final Report 2014
  2. ^ "Rukwa Uwanda Game Reserve". Utalii Travel and Safari. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  3. ^ Google Earth accessed 6 February 2007
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online/Lake Rukwa
  5. ^ Lévêque, Christian (1997). Biodiversity Dynamics and Conservation: The Freshwater Fish of Tropical Africa. Cambridge University Press. p. 110.
  6. ^ "Helium 'could earn Tanzania $3.5bn'". July 8, 2016.