The lake is situated within the Western Rift of the geographic feature known as the Great Rift Valley formed by the tectonic East African Rift, and is confined by the mountainous walls of the valley. It is the largest rift lake in Africa and the second largest lake by surface area on the continent. It is the deepest lake in Africa and holds the greatest volume of fresh water. It extends for 673 km in a general north-south direction and averages 50 km in width. The lake covers 32,900 km², with a shoreline of 1,828 km and a mean depth of 570 meters (1,900 ft) and a maximum depth of 1,470 metres (4,800 ft) (in the northern basin) it holds an estimated 18,900 km³ (4500 cubic miles). It has an average surface temperature of 25 °C and a pH averaging 8.4. Additionally, beneath the 500 m of water there is circa 4,500 meters of sediment lying over the rock floor.
Transport in the Lake.
The MV Liemba, formerly the Graf von Götzen, is a passenger cargo ferry that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. The ship was built in 1913 in Germany, and was one of three vessels operated by the Germans to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of World War I. It was scuttled by its captain on 26 July 1916 off the mouth of the Malagarasi river, during the German retreat from the town of Kigoma. In 1924 the ship was salvaged by a British Royal Navy salvage team and decommissioned in 1927 as the Liemba. The vessel is now owned by the Tanzania Railways Corporation and runs between the ports of Bujumbura, Burundi, Kigoma, Tanzania and Mpulungu, Zambia with numerous stops to pick up and set down passengers in between.
MV Mwongozo is a mixed passenger / cargo ship on Lake Tanganyika. She was built on the lake in 1979 by a Finnish company and carries up to 800 passengers and 80 tones of cargo. Her original route was a weekly return route from Bujumbura, Burundi to Mpulungu, Zambia, stopping at Kigoma, Tanzania and various small settlements down the Tanzanian coast of the lake. Her accommodation includes open sleeping areas and individual cabins and she has a dining room for passengers. She can take cars and small trucks on her forward deck.