The structural evolution of Lake Van Basin, eastern Turkey, was reconstructed based on seismic reflection profiles through the sedimentary fill as well as from newly acquired multibeam echosounder data. The major sub-basins (Tatvan Basin and Northern Basin) of Lake Van, bound by NE-trending faults with normal components, formed during the past similar to 600 ka probably due to extensional tectonics resulting from lithospheric thinning and mantle upwelling related to the westward escape of Anatolia. Rapid extension and subsidence during early lake formation led to the opening of the two sub-basins. Two major, still active volcanoes (Nemrut and Suphan) grew close to the lake basins approximately synchronously, their explosive deposits making up > 20 % of the drilled upper 220 m of the ca. 550-m-thick sedimentary fill. During basin development, extension and subsidence alternated with compressional periods, particularly between similar to 340 and 290 ka and sometime before similar to 14 ka, when normal fault movements reversed and gentle anticlines formed as a result of inversion. The similar to 14 ka event was accompanied by widespread uplift and erosion along the northeastern margin of the lake, and substantial erosion took place on the crests of the folds. A series of closely spaced eruptions of Suphan volcano occurred synchronously suggesting a causal relationship. Compression is still prevalent inside and around Lake Van as evidenced by recent faults offsetting the lake floor and by recent devastating earthquakes along their onshore continuations. New, high-resolution bathymetry data from Lake Van reveal the morphology of the Northern Ridge and provide strong evidence for ongoing transpression on a dextral strike-slip fault as documented by the occurrence of several pop-up structures along the ridge.