Lough Neagh is situated in the centre of Northern Ireland. It is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles and is very shallow for its size.
Six major rivers flow into the Lough while the Lower Bann River provides the exit, carrying water from the north end of the Lough at Toome to the sea on the north coast of Northern Ireland.
The rivers flowing into Lough Neagh drain about 43% of Northern Ireland, plus part of County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. There is no incursion of seawater into Lough Neagh.
Lough Beg and Portmore Lough are two smaller lakes associated with Lough Neagh. Lough Beg (1,125 ha) lies to the north of Lough Neagh at the start of the Lower Bann River and Portmore Lough (286 ha) flows into the south-east of Lough Neagh.
Lough Neagh has several local, national and international environmental designations. It was designated as a Ramsar site in 1976 because of the very large numbers of wintering wildfowl.
In the last 100 years four drainage schemes have affected the Lough by reducing its level to prevent flooding of farmland. The Lough is used as a source of water for Belfast.
Many of the local people make a living from the Lough, mainly from fishing and sand extraction.
There are several main tourist attractions situated around the shores of the Lough and many opportunities to partake in land and water based recreational activities. Seven District Councils operate in the Lough Neagh Wetlands area.
The bed and soil of the Lough is in private ownership. An overall structure has been setup to provide integrated management and development of the various activities which occur on the water, around the shores and within the wetland.