Lake Prespa

Prespa (Mikri and Megali) (Πρέσπα)

Mikri Prespa and Megali Prespa Satellite image

Prespa is the name of two freshwater lakes in southeast Europe, shared by Greece, Albania, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Of the total surface area, 190 km² belongs to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 84.8 km² to Greece and 38.8 km² to Albania.

The Great Prespa Lake (Albanian: Liqeni i Prespës, Macedonian: Преспанско Езеро, Prespansko Ezero, Greek: Limni Megali Prespa) is divided between Albania, Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Small Prespa Lake (Greek: Limni Mikrá Prespa) is shared only between Greece (138 km² drainage area; 43.5 km² surface area) and Albania (51 km² drainage area; 3.9 km² surface area).

In the 10th century, Bulgarian tsar Samuil built a fortress and church of St Achilius on an island called Achil in the Small Prespa Lake, on the Greek side of the border. The biggest island in the Great Prespa Lake, on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia side, is called Golem Grad ("Large Town"). It is substantially bigger than the other island Mal Grad (Small Town, in Albania) and has the remains of a 14th century monastery dedicated to St. Peter. Today, both islands are uninhabited.

Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) (Αργυροπελεκάνος ), Lake Mikri Prespa

Because Great Prespa Lake sits about 150m above Lake Ohrid, which lies only about 10 km (6 miles) to the west, its waters run through underground channels in the karst and emerge from springs which feed streams running into Lake Ohrid.

For many years, the Greek part of the Prespa Lakes region was an underpopulated, military sensitive area which required special permission for outsiders to visit. It saw fierce fighting during the Greek Civil War and much of the local population subsequently emigrated to escape endemic poverty and political strife. The region remained little developed until the 1970s, when it began to be promoted as a tourist destination. With an abundance of rare fauna and flora, the area was declared a Transnational Park in 2000.

The largest town in the Prespa Lakes region is Resen in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


  • "Prespa, Lake". Encyclopædia Britannica, 2005.
  • "Prespa, Lake". The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004.

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