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Maracaibo Lake Bridge, Venezuela

General Information

Description Maracaibo is one of only 17 ancient lakes on earth. It is estimated to be the second oldest, having been created approximately 36 million years ago.

Maracaibo is the largest lake in South America and is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by a narrow strait in the north, making it slightly saline.

The Lake Maracaibo basin includes the largest oil fields in Venezuela. It also holds almost a quarter of Venezuela's population.

Country Venezuela
Latitude 10° 39' 0" (10.6500)
Longitude -71° 36' 0" (-71.6000)


 Maracaibo index & locator map
 Largest Lakes in the World by Area (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Largest Lakes of the World by Volume (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Latin America & Mexico Biodiversity Conservation Priorities
 Ancient Lakes of the World

Physical Characteristics

Description Maracaibo's origins are tectonic and shoreline.
Volume 280.00 km3
Surface Area 13,010.00 km2
Depth Maximum depth: 60.0 m
Age Greater than 20 million years before present
Origin Tectonic
Type Saline


Economic Value
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Other Issues Polluted runoff

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Species of Concern



Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
ILEC Database
Lake Maracaibo on Encyclopedia.com


6/13/2004 - Venezuelan alert over lake weed
10/31/2002 - New discovery made in the Tomoporo area of Lake Maracaibo
12/18/2000 - A great lake fills with filth as salt seeps in from the sea
2/1/2000 - A Great Lake Fills with Filth...As Salt Seeps in from the Sea (int'l edition)
10/29/1998 - Development, war threaten lake that once was poet's inspiration

Additional Data Sources

Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
Earth Observatory, NASA
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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