Sitting around 25 miles east of Russia’s St. Petersburg is Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest lake. It spans 6,700 square miles and is one of the largest lakes in the world.
How large is Ladoga? Its extent reaches an average width of 51 miles and its length is 136 miles. Its surrounding basin includes 50,000 smaller lakes and more than 3,000 rivers that share part of its groundwater.
There are much larger lakes, like North America’s Lake Superior or Africa’s Lake Tanganyika, each of which are at least twice as big as Ladoga.
Levels of Lake Ladoga are highest in the summer months of June and July. In December and January, they fall to their lowest. During the winter, coastal regions of the lake freeze first, followed by open central areas.
The freshwater lake has 56 parts per million calcium hydrocarbonate (calcium bicarbonate), an aqueous compound that varies with pH. This compound makes Lake Ladoga’s water a yellowish brown.
But that’s not the only story that Ladoga has to tell.
In World War II, the city of St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, was supported by supplies shipped across the lake from the Soviet Union. While military equipment and munitions were sent across the lake to Leningrad, sick and wounded were shipped back over the same route.
In present day, Lake Ladoga is part of the White Sea-Baltic Canal system that transports goods to and from parts of Europe, Russia and the rest of the world.