Largest lake in Africa and chief reservoir of the Nile River, east-central Africa. The southern half lies in Tanzania, the northern half in Uganda; it borders Kenya in the northeast. With an area of 26,828 sq mi (69,484 sq km), it is the second largest freshwater lake in the world (after Lake Superior in North America). It is about 210 mi (337 km) long, 150 mi (240 km) wide, and up to 270 ft (82 m) deep. Though the Kagera River is its largest tributary, the most important source of water for the lake is rainfall. Its only outlet is the Victoria Nile. John Hanning Speke, searching for the source of the Nile in 1858, was the first European to sight it. He named it for Queen Victoria; the Arabs had called it Ukerewe. Henry Morton Stanley circumnavigated it in 1875. It became a reservoir when the water level was raised after completion of Owen Falls Dam (now the Nalubaale Dam) in 1954.
Learn more about Victoria, Lake with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Three groups shared the portion of Northern Nyanza lying in the English protectorate; the first, that of the Baganda, in the early 20th century represented by 670,000 inhabitants, gave support to evangelization. the 1886 Ugandan Martyrs were Baganda. The second, the Banyoro, numbered 520,000 aborigines; the third, the Bahima (who are Hamites), the leading class in the shepherd Kingdom of Ankole, was a minority not exceeding 50,000 souls. The total population of Northern Nyanza equaled therefore about 1,500,000 inhabitants, of whom 1,400,000 were in English territory, and 360,000 in the Congo country.
At the time of its creation (July, 1894) Northern Nyanza had an administrator, 17 missionaries divided among 5 stations, 15,000 neophytes and 21,000 catechumens. In July, 1896, the date of the death of Mgr. Guillerman, the first vicar Apostolic, the vicariate had 6 stations, 21 missionaries, and 20,000 baptized Christians. In July, 1911, it had 1 bishop, Mgr. Henri Streicher (preconized 2 February 1897), Bishop of Tabarca and second vicar Apostolic of Southern Nyanza, 118 missionaries divided among 28 stations, 113,810 neophytes and 97,630 catechumens. All the missionaries of Northern Nyanza, including the vicar Apostolic, were members of the Society of White Fathers. The native clergy consisted only of 2 subdeacons, 4 minor clerics and 4 tonsured clerics. They were assisted by 28 European religious of the Society of White Sisters, and by an institute of native religious called the Daughters of Mary. Eleven hundred and five Baganda and Banyoro teachers cooperated in educational work and in the service of 832 churches or chapels.
The headquarters of the mission was at Villa Maria, near Masaka, Uganda; there were situated the residence of the bishop, the two seminaries, a flourishing mission station, the central house of the White Sisters, the novitiate of the native sisters, and a printing establishments where there was published monthly in the Luganda language 16-page magazine entitled "Munno". Entebbe was the seat of the procurator of the vicariate.