Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. It is located approximately 45 km southeast of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and stands on the border between the states of Jalisco and Michoacán.
The altitude of Lake Chapala is 1,524 metres above sea level. Its approximate dimensions are 80 km from east to west and 18 km from north to south, and it covers a total of some 1,100 km². It is a shallow lake, with a mean depth of 4.5 metres and a maximum of 10.5.
Lake Chapala is fed by the Río Lerma, Río Zula, Río Huaracha, and Río Duero rivers, and drained by the Río Santiago. The water then flows northwest into the Pacific Ocean.
The lake has two islands, the largest of which is Isla de los Alacranes.
Lake Chapala’s water levels and water quality are threatened due to over-exploitation of its waters and of the surrounding land. The over-exploitation of this lake has been a result of Guadalajara’s growing demand for fresh water. The water level drop has uncovered political issues that had been hidden for many years.
Its fast decay has raised concern in the surrounding areas and in the scientific community. It was the Global Nature Fund’s “Threatened Lake of the Year” in 2004.