The African Great Lakes (Swahili: Maziwa Makuu) are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift. They include Lake Victoria, the third-largest fresh water lake in the world by area, and Lake Tanganyika, the world's second-largest freshwater lake by volume and depth.Collectively, they contain 31,000 km3 (7400 cu mi) of water, which is more than either Lake Baikal or the North American Great Lakes. This total constitutes about 25% of the planet's unfrozen surface fresh water.
The large rift lakes of Africa are the ancient home of great biodiversity; 10% of the world's fish species live there.
Countries in the African Great Lakes region (sometimes also called Greater Lakes region) include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. A conference was held on the lakes region in 2017 in Uganda.
The Great Lakes area, where colonial era borders cut through ethnic groups, has in the last 20 years been a crucible of conflict that has launched multiple uprisings and invasions. The United Nations, the United States, and several European countries have special envoys or representatives to the Great Lakes region. On June 18, 2013, Russ Feingold was appointed United States Special Representative for the region by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.He announced his departure from the position on February 24, 2015. Laurence D. Wohlers was appointed to the position in January 2017.