It is formed by the river Linth, which, rising in the glaciers of the Tödi Range in Glarus, was diverted by the Escher canal (completed in 1811) into the Walensee, whence, by means of the Linth canal (completed in 1816), its waters are carried to the east end of the lake of Zürich. This river issues from the lake at its north-west end, passing through the town of Zürich, but is then called the Limmat.
No streams of importance flow into the lake. Its area is about 90.1 km² (34 sq. m.), its extreme length 40 km (25 m.), its greatest breadth 2 m., and its greatest depth 143 m (469 ft.), while its surface is 406 m (1342 ft.) above sea-level. Its volume is 3'900 mio m³. It is included, or the greater portion, in the Canton of Zürich, but at its east end 8 sq. m. towards the southern shore are in that of Schwyz, and 4 sq. m. towards ths northern shore in that of St. Gallen. The great dam of masonry, carrying the railway line and road from Rapperswil to Pfäffikon, which cuts off the extreme eastern part of the lake from the rest, is passed only by small boats; steamers (of which the first was placed on the lake in 1835) do not go beyond the dam, as the eastern portion of the lake is shallow and choked by weeds. West of this dam is the small islands of Lützelau and Ufenau, where in 1523 Ulrich von Hutten took refuge and died. Both shores are well cultivated and fertile.
|Left shore ¹||Right shore|
Zürich, at the north end of the lake, is the principal place on it.
On the west shore (which gradually becomes the south shore) are Thalwil, Horgen, Wädenswil, Richterswil, Pfäffikon, and Lachen.
On the opposite shore are Meilen (near which the first lake dwellings were discovered in 1853-54), Stäfa, and the quaint town of Rapperswil, the castle of which shelters a Polish museum, wherein is the heart of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Schmerikon is close to the east end of the lake, and a little beyond is the more important town of Uznach.