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Lake Geneva or Lake L√©man ( ) is the largest natural freshwater lake in western Europe (582 km¬≤). In addition it is the largest body of freshwater in continental Europe in term of volume (89 km¬≥). 60% of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerlandmarker (cantons of Vaudmarker, Genevamarker, and Valaismarker), and 40% under Francemarker (Haute-Savoiemarker). The average level of water of 372 m is controlled by the Seujet Dam near Genevamarker.


Lake Geneva has a crescent shape, formed by a withdrawing glacier, narrows around Yvoiremarker on the southern shore. It can thus be divided into the "Grand Lac" (Large Lake) to the east and the "Petit Lac" (Small Lake) to the west.

The lake lies on the course of the Rh√īne River. The river has its source at the Rhone Glaciermarker near the Grimsel Passmarker to the east of the lake and flows down through the Canton of Valaismarker, entering the lake between Villeneuvemarker and Le Bouveretmarker, before flowing slowly towards its egress at Genevamarker. Other tributaries are La Dranse, L'Aubonne, La Morges, La Venogemarker, and Veveyse.

Lake Geneva has an alpine character. The Chablais Alpsmarker border its southern shore, the western Bernesemarker Alpsmarker lie over its eastern side. The high summits of Grand Combinmarker and Mont Blancmarker are even visible from a few places.

The shore between Nyonmarker and Lausannemarker is called La C√īte because it is "flatter". Between Lausanne and Vevey it is called Lavauxmarker and is famous for its hilly vineyards.

The lake's surface is the lowest pointmarker of the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman operates boats on the lake.


By the 1960s, the lake had ceased being a transport artery for commercial and construction materials. In the late 1960s pollution made it dangerous to swim at some beaches of the lake; indeed, tourists taking a ride in the local submarine had near zero visibility (it was eventually solid). By the 1980s, intense environmental pollution (eutrophication) had almost wiped out all the fish. Today, pollution levels have been dramatically cut back, and it is again considered safe to swim in the lake. Major leisure activities practiced include sailing, wind surfing, boating (including water skiing and wakeboarding), rowing, scuba diving and bathing.

On a scientific footnote, in 1827, Lake Geneva was the site for the first measurement of the speed of sound in (fresh) water. French mathematician Jacques Charles François Sturm and Swiss Physicist Daniel Collodon used two moored boats, separated by a measured distance, as the transmit and receive platforms for the sounds of exploding gunpowder. The loud airborne sound coupled into the lake, establishing a loud underwater sound that could be measured at a distance. The flash of the exploding gunpowder provided the visual starting cue for the timepiece, and the underwater explosion sound striking a bell provided the finish cue.


August Ludwig Erhard Boll : View of Lake Geneva, 1852.

The first recorded name of the lake is Lacus Lemanus from Roman times; it became Lacus Lausonius, although this name was also used for a town or district on the lake, Lacus Losanetes and then the Lac de Lausanne in the Middle Ages. Following the rise of Geneva it became Lac de Genève (translated into English as Lake Geneva). In the 18th century, Lac Léman was revived in French. It is often called Lac de Genève in Geneva [25557] [25558] and Lac Léman elsewhere but the customary name in French is now Lac Léman or even le Léman. Certain maps name the lake the Lac d'Ouchy (after the port located on the Lausanne lake shore). In contemporary English, the name Lake Geneva is predominant.

A note on pronunciation:
English: Lake Geneva
French: Lac Léman or Lac de Genève
German: Genfersee or Genfer See
Italian: Lago Lemano, Lago di Ginevra .


Cities and places

View from Montreux

Starting from the entry of Rh√īne River on the east end, with the southern shore to the left.
List of cities and places on Lake Geneva
Southern shore Northern shore
Grand Lac

Petit Lac


  1. Switzerland: Lake of Geneva Retrived on 2009-07-20
  2. Seujet / Lac Léman Retrived on 2009-07-20

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