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Lake Profile

Peipsi (Chudskoe, Peipus, Pskovsko-Chudskaya)

General Information

Description Lake Peipsi is the largest transboundary water body in Europe and the fourth largest lake in Europe. 44% of the lake itself belongs to the Republic of Estonia and 56% to the Russian Federation.
Country Estonia
Russian Federation
Latitude 58° 40' 0" (58.6667)
Longitude 27° 30' 0" (27.5000)


 Peipsi/Chudskoye global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Peipsi/Chudskoye locator map
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)
 Peipsi (Chudskoe) watershed map (Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation (2003))

Physical Characteristics

Description Peipsi is a shallow lake and is comprised of three parts: Lake Peipsi itself (2610 km2), Lake Pskov (710 km2) and the narrow but deep Lake Lämmijärv (235 km2 deep but only 3 km wide at the smallest crossing), which connects them. In Lake Lämmijärv lies the deepest place in Peipsi - 15.3 m.

The volume of the lake is twice as much as the annual runoff of the Estonian rivers. In spring Peipsi's water level can rise by almost a meter. At its highest level the area of the lake increases by 780 km2. In October the level of water is at its lowest.

There are 30 islands in the lake. The biggest - Piirissaar belongs to Estonia. (A. Jaani et al, 1998).

The Narva River Basin that feeds Lake Peipsi flows through Estonia, Russia and Latvia. However, Latvia contributes little to the overall pollution within the watershed.

Lake Peipsi is a eutrophic and biologically highly productive lake. The Peipsi basin forms 85% of the Narva-Peipsi watershed (56 225 km2), which is 47 814 km2.

Ice cover on Peipsi usually forms at the end of November. It will be thickest, up to 50-60 cm, in the second half of March.

Volume 25.00 km3
Surface Area 3,429.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 7.0 m
Maximum depth: 15.0 m
Residence Time 1.1 years
Age 10,000 - 99,999 years before present
Trophic State Eutrophic
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 47,800.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 14:1


Economic Value Commercial fisheries and agriculture are the most important sources of income for the local population within the region. Fisheries supported by Lake Peipsi include lake smelt, perch, ruff, roach, bream, pike, vendace and pikeperch.
Major Cities Pskov (Russia) has 203,000 inhabitants and Tartu (Estonia) has 98,000 inhabitants. The remainder of the population within the watershed lies in small settlements. (LBMI 2003)
Population 1,000,000 (2003)

Watershed Management

Description Under a UNDP/GEF project, a Lake Peipsi Basin Management Program will be developed by the Estonian-Russian Transboundary Water Commission and authorities in each country. A feasibility study is being conducted on the development of water and ecological tourism in the Lake Peipsi region. There are plans for the establishment of two Lake Peipsi museums, one on the Estonian side of the lake and one on the Russian side.
Watershed Action Plan In development
Issues Nutrient pollution is a major threat to water quality in the lake; fortunately recent years have shown a tendency for the better. The main source of this water pollution is agriculture and municipal wastewaters.
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
Species of Concern


Peipsi Center for Transboundary Cooperation

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
Environmental Exchanges Among Managers of Nine Lakes in Russia, Hungary and the U.S.
Exchanges Among Environmental Specialists on 20 Lakes in the Former Soviet Union and in Eastern & Central Europe
International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network
Lake99 Workshop: Managing the Great Lakes of the World, Implementing the Watershed Approach
LakeNet 2000: A Dialogue on Participatory Watershed Management
International Workshop on Management and Sustainable Development of International Lake Basins
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas


Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management, Special Issue edited by LakeNet, Volume 6:3  (PDF) Announcement. Blackwell Science-Asia. 7/31/2001.
Management issues of the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe region  Agenda. Final. Lakes and Reservoirs- Research and Management. 9/1/2004.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.
Peipsi/Chudskoe  (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. Roll et al. 2/27/2006.


Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Peipsi
ILEC Database
Integrated Monitoring on Lake Peipsi
Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe: A Shared Resource for Estonia and Russia
Long-Term Trends in the Fish Communites of Lakes Peipsi and Vortsjarv
Management issues of the Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe region
Public Participation in the Management of Transboundary Waters
Strategy for Wastewater Treatment in Lake Peipsi (Russia & Estonia)
Transboundary Water Management on the Future Border of the European Union - Lake Peipsi
Water Resource Management in Russia: Lake Peipsi Basin Case


7/31/2006 - Swedish environmental specialists studied possibilities of nature tourism at Lake Peipsi in Estonia
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
4/21/2004 - Peipsi shipping line between Pskov (Russia) and Tartu Estonia) will not be launched this spring
4/21/2004 - Dutch and Russian researchers plan to jointly study the ecosystem of Lake Peipsi
3/18/2004 - Fish-selling and buying-up forbidden for recreational fishermen
3/18/2004 - The city of Pskov is polluting Lake Peipsi
3/12/2004 - Ilmatsala river polluted
1/27/2004 - The condition of Lake Peipsi
11/10/2003 - NGO on Lake Peipsi uses new "citizens juries" to gather recommendations on lake issues
3/25/2002 - Transboundary agreement between Russia & Estonia makes shipping traffic possible on Lake Peipsi after ten-year break

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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