Inle Lake, a freshwater lake located in the Nyaungshwe Township of Taunggyi District of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar (Burma). It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles (116 km2), and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet (880 m). During the dry season, the average water depth is 7 feet (2.1 m), with the deepest point being 12 feet (3.7 m). During the rainy season, this can increase by 5 feet (1.5 m).
The watershed area for the lake lies to a large extent to the north and west of the lake. The lake drains through the Nam Pilu or Balu Chaung on its southern end. There is also a hot spring on its northwestern shore.
Large sections of the lake are covered by floating plants. Its clear and slightly alkaline waters (pH 7.8–8) are home to a diverse fauna and many species found nowhere else in the world (endemics).There are more than 35 native species of fish, including 17 endemics. Some of these, notably the Sawbwa barb, red dwarf rasbora, emerald dwarf rasbora, Lake Inle danio, Inle loach and the Inle snakehead, are of minor commercial importance for the aquarium trade. Several fish that are not native have been introduced. Additionally, the lake is home to about 45 species of freshwater snails, 30 of them endemic, along with a small endemic freshwater crab, Inlethelphusa acanthica. It hosts approximately 20,000 migratory gulls in November to January.
In June 2015, it became Myanmar’s first designated place of World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It was one of 20 places added at the Unesco’s 27th Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Coordinating Council (ICC) meeting. Since 2018 it has been designated as a protected Ramsar site. Today the lake’s environment is under serious pressure due to pollution, siltation, eutrophication, overfishing and introduced species, including the highly invasive water hyacinth. The endemic predatory fish Systomus compressiformis might already be extinct.