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Erhai Lake Overview

Geographical Location

Erhai is situated at 1,972 metres (6,470 ft) above sea level. In size, the North-South length of the lake is 40 kilometres (25 mi) and the East-West width is roughly 7–8 kilometres (4.3–5.0 mi). Its area is 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), making it the second largest highland lake of China, after Dianchi Lake. Its circumference reaches 116 kilometres (72 mi), its average depth is of 11 metres (36 ft) and the total storage capacity of 2.5 billion cubic metres (2,000,000 acre·ft).



Erhai Lake, one of the top attractions in Dali, is a fault lake and a place with ultimate environment and amazing scenery. It is close to the famous Cangshan Mountain, beautiful Butterfly Spring and the Dali Ancient City. The record of this Lake can be traced back to Han Dynasty. It has been one of the oldest lakes in China. Its name was got from the shape of this lake. Seen from the sky, the shape of this lake likes ear, so local people gives this lake the name (The pronunciation of the word ear in Chinese is Er). This lake covers an area of about 251 square kilometers and is with a depth of 11.5 meters on average. At present, it is the second largest freshwater lake in Yunnan province and a place enjoying rich resources. Talking about this lake in Dali, there is one thing must be mentioned. It is the mother river of Bai people. As one of the important ethnic minorities in Yunnan province and a big group in Dali, Bai people affect the history and culture of Dali. Many Bai people still live on the bank of this lake. If you take a Dali tour to this lake, you can get closer to this ethnic group in Yunnan, which is a good chance for you to know them.


There are three islands, four islets, five smaller lakes and nine bends on the lake. The three islands are Jinsuo Island, Chiwen Island and Tianer Island. Four islets are Qingshabi, Daguanchu, Yuanyang, Malian. The five smaller lakes are Nantang Lake, Beitang Lake, Lianzhu Lake, Longhu Lake and Bozhou Lake and the nine bends are Lianhua Bend, Daji Bend, Poji Bend, Fengyi Bend, Luozhou Bend, Niujiao Bend, Boyin Bend and Gaoyan Bend.

Administrative Division

Erhai is under Dali’s jurisdiction.

Er Lake /   Erhai

Erhai lake, Yunnan, China.jpg





25°45′48″N 100°11′15″E

Basin countries


Max.   length

40 km   (25 mi)

Max. width

8 km   (5.0 mi)

Surface   area

250 km2 (97 sq mi)

Average   depth

11 m   (36 ft)

Water   volume

2.5 km3 (0.60 cu mi)

Surface   elevation

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