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Rivers and Lakes of Macedonia


Macedonia is characterized by a developed hydrographic net. It has numerous springs, a wide river net and many natural and artificial lakes. Strong springs or wellsprings can mainly be found on limestone terrain. Such are the springs Rasche, from which Skopje is supplied with drinking water.


The rivers in Macedonia belong to three basins: the Aegean Basin, which covers an area of 22,319 km2 or 87% of the Country territory; the Adriatic Basin with an area of 3,350 km2, or 13% and the Black Sea Basin of only 44 km2.

The Aegean water basin includes the Vardar River basin, covering a territory of 20,535 km2 (80% of the Macedonian territory), the Strumica River basin, with an area of 1,535 km2 (7% of the territory), the Dojran Lake basin with an area of 120 km2 and the Lebnicka River basin with an area of 129 km2.

The Vardar is the longest and the most significant river in Macedonia. Its total length is 388 km, of which 301 km. belong to our Country. It has a composite valley with a medium flow of 174 m3/sec at Gevgelija.

The most significant river in the Adriatic Sea basin is the Crn Drim with its tribute Radika, while in the area of the Black Sea Basin the spring well of the Binachka Morava is located.

The natural lakes in Macedonia are mainly of tectonic origin - the Ohrid Lake, the Prespa Lake and the Dojran Lake, all three cross-border.

There also are other lakes that are of glacial origin. The Ohrid Lake is located in the far South-Eastern part of the state, in the lowland of Ohrid. It occupies an area of 348 km2, out of which 229.9 km2 belongs to the Republic of Macedonia, and 118.9 km2 belongs to Albania.

It is 30.35 km long and 14.5 km wide, and the surface of the lake is at an elevation of 695 meters above sea level. Its basin accumulates around 50 billion m3 of water, thus classifying it among the greater in the world.

The lake is 287 meters deep, while the transparency of the water is 21,5 m. The medium temperature at the surface of the lake in August is 23.0 C° and, according to the temperature, the lake belongs to the group of subtropics lakes, since the water never freezes in winter. The lake gets the water from the rivers Cherava, Sateska and Koselska, and loses it through the Crn Dim, flowing out of the lake.

The Prespa Lake is situated in the lowland of Prespa. It is a cross border Lake between the Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Greece. Its total area is 274 km2, out of which 176.8 km2 belonging to the Republic of Macedonia, 49.4 km2 to Albania and 47.8 km2 to Greece. The surface of the lake is at 853 meters above sea level.

It is 28.6 km long, 16.9 km wide and 54 meters deep. The water is warmest in August, 24.30 C° on the surface and its transparency is 7.20 m.

It receives water from the rivers Golema Reka, Brajchinska Reka and Kranska Reka, as well as from the Mala Prespa Lake, which is at an elevation 3 meters higher than the Prespa Lake. It loses its water sinking into the limestone of Galichica into the lower Ohrid Lake.

The Dojran Lake is situated in the south-eastern part of Macedonia, at an elevation of 148 m above sea level. It covers an area of 43.1 km2, divided between the Republic of Macedonia (27.3 km2) and the Republic of Greece (15.8 km2).

It is 9 km long, 7 km wide and 10 m deep. Because the lake is not very deep, its water warms up easily, so that its temperature in August reaches 28.0 C°, but it can also freeze in winter. The Dojran Lake receives its water from many small tributes, and loses it through the river Gjolaja, which flows out of the lake.

The glacial lakes are situated in the highest parts of our high mountains: the Shar Planina, Pelister, Jablanica, Jakupica, Korab and Stogovo. They are located in cirques, created from diluvia glaciers.

They are small, not very deep, usually have a round form and contain clear and clean water, because of which they are known as "forest eyes". The biggest among them is the Bogovinsko Lake on the Shar Planina and the most famous are the Golemo and Malo Lakes (Big Lake and Small Lake) on Pelister.

There are artificial lakes in almost all parts of Macedonia.

The bigger among them are: Mavrovo Lake on the river Mavrovska Reka, Globotchica and the Debar Lake in the flow of the river Crn Drim, Matka on the Treska river, the Tikvesh Lake on the river Crna, Kalimanci on the flow of Bregalnica, Strezhevo on the river Shemnica, Glazhnje and Lipkovo Lake on the river Lipkovska Reka, Mantovo on the river Kriva Lakavica, etc. The oldest is Lake Matka, constructed in 1938, The biggest is Tikvesh Lake.

The most famous tourist resort is Mavrovo Lake.