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US Geography


The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are the five largest lakes in the United States and include Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. They are located in the northern Midwest along the border between the United States and Canada. Of the five lakes, only lake Michigan is located entirely in the United States. There are eight states that have shoreline on at least one of the Great Lakes including New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

When all of the Great Lakes are combined, they make up the largest collection of freshwater lakes in the world. They cover over 94,000 square miles of surface area and have 11,000 miles of shoreline. The total volume of the lakes is over 5,400 cubic miles which makes up around 21% of the world's surface freshwater.

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes covering 31,700 square miles. It is also the deepest of the lakes with a maximum depth of 1,335 feet and an average depth of 483 feet. The lakes all interconnect with waterways and also connect to the Atlantic Ocean through canals and the Hudson River. Many of the major cities of North America are located on the shores of the Great Lakes including Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Toronto.

Great Salt Lake

The largest lake in the United State that is not part of the Great Lakes is the Great Salt Lake in Utah. As its name implies, the water in the Great Salt Lake is salty. It is even more salty than the ocean. Because it is so salty, no fish live in the lake. Only a few species such as brine shrimp and algae live in the lake itself.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 feet deep. It is a caldera lake, meaning that it is formed from the collapsed land at the center of a volcano. It is a fairly small lake at only 6 miles long and 5 miles wide. It is located at the top of Mount Mazama in Oregon. The lake and the land around the lake are protected as part of the Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake by volume in the United States. It is located high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border between California and Nevada. It is also the second deepest lake in the US after Crater Lake. The lake is a major tourist attraction for both summer and winter recreation.

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is a large lake located in south Florida. It is the second largest natural freshwater lake that completely resides within the United States. Despite being such a large lake in terms of surface area, Lake Okeechobee is very shallow. Its average depth is only 9 feet. The lake is home to a wide variety of wildlife including alligators, large-mouth bass, herons, cranes, white-tailed deer, manatees, river otters, and bobcats.

Top 10 Lakes by Area in the United States
  1. Lake Superior - 31,700 sq. miles
  2. Lake Huron - 23,000 sq. miles
  3. Lake Michigan - 22,300 sq. miles
  4. Lake Erie - 9,910 sq. miles
  5. Lake Ontario - 7,340 sq. miles
  6. Great Salt Lake - 2,117 sq. miles
  7. Lake of the Woods - 1,485 sq. miles
  8. Iliamna Lake - 1,014 sq. miles
  9. Lake Oahe - 685 sq. miles
  10. Lake Okeechobee - 662 sq. miles
More on US geographical features:

Regions of the United States
US Rivers
US Lakes
US Mountain Ranges
US Deserts

Geography >> US Geography >> US State History

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