The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Lake Van

Lake Van (in Turkish Van Gölü) is the largest lake in Turkey, located in the far east of the country. It is a saline lake with no outlet, receiving water from numerous small streams that descend from the surrounding mountains. The lake is 120 km long, 80 km wide, has an area of 3,755 kmē and is located 1 719 metres above sea level. Its waters are rich in sodium carbonate and other salts which are extracted by evaporation and used as detergents. Darekh , a species of herring caught during the spring floods, spawns near the mouths of streams feeding the lake and is the only fish that can survive in the brackish waters. The lake is surrounded by fruit and grain-growing agricultural areas. The city of Van is located on the eastern shore of the lake.

In ancient times, the shore of Lake Van was the center of the kingdom of Urartu. Akdamar Island in the middle of the lake is the location of a tenth-century Armenian church.


The railway connecting Turkey and Iran built in the 1970's uses a train ferry on Lake Van rather that tracks built around the rugged shore line. Transfer from train to ship and back again wastes time, and restricts capacity. Should the amount of traffic increase, then that would be the time to build the rail link between the ferry ports.

Last updated: 08-18-2005 11:35:06