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Lake Profile


General Information

Description Lake Balkhash lies in one of the most arid watersheds in the world. The lake is usually frozen from November through March.
Country Kazakhstan
Latitude 46° 15' 0" (46.2500)
Longitude 74° 30' 0" (74.5000)
River Basin Lake Balkhash


 Largest Lakes in the World by Area (LakeNet Explorer 2004)

Physical Characteristics

Description Lake Balkhash, although slightly less saline than the conventional limit, is usually considered a saline lake. It is a terminal lake, i.e. it has no outlets. The two largest rivers flowing into Lake Balkash are the Ile and the Karatal. The drainage area of Lake Balkash and the Aral Sea are geographically separate, but the waterbodies shared many common species until massive local extinctions in the Aral.
Volume 122.00 km3
Surface Area 17,580.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 6.0 m
Maximum depth: 27.0 m
Residence Time 6.8 years
Origin Tectonic
Type Saline
Catchment Catchment size: 413,000.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 23:1


Economic Value Attempts to increase total fishery catches by importing non-native species have failed; invasives simply replaced indigenous species, while overall fishery levels remained the same.
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description Since the early 1900's, Lake Balkhash fish stocks have been intensively manipulated by the transfer of additioanl fish species from elsewhere in what was previously the Soviet Union.

Biodiversity Conservation

Description The introduction of non-native fish, some of which have become invasive, has caused indigenous fish stocks to decline.
Species of Concern



Central Asia Commerce Business and Resource Directory
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Balkhash Lake
ILEC Database
Lake Balkhash River Basin map & information


5/28/2003 - Clashing approaches becloud central Asia's water future
8/1/2000 - Kazakh's biggest lake under threat

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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