Lake of Nicaragua
The lake has a surface of 8,264 km², and it is located in the central southern part of the country. The oval-shaped lake is relatively uncontaminated, although some serious environmental issues pose a real threat for the lake’s future. The lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Latin America, has been an important link for many years between inland Nicaragua and the Caribbean Sea, and the colonial city of Granada located on the northwestern shore of the lake was the first Nicaraguan city to be established by Spanish conquerors in 1524. As transportation methods modernized the lake lost importance as strategic link between the Pacific and the Caribbean, but its natural beauty and environmental importance remain important qualities not only for Nicaragua but also for Central America. Lake Nicaragua is part of the largest international drainage basin of Central America, and together with Lake Managua and the San Juan River it forms a tectonic valley with an area of over 41,000 km². The lake itself is not very deep with an average depth of 13 meters. Rainfall and inflow from numerous rivers feed Lake Nicaragua. Environmentally, Lake Nicaragua is a key element in the Nicaraguan landscape. Not only does the lake provide a habitat for spectacular aquatic wildlife, it is also an important water source for the vegetation located on the banks of the lake. With a perimeter of 425 kilometers there is plenty of coastline and several types of ecosystems can be found along the lake’s shores.