Water covers about 70% of the Earth's surface. The oceans contain most of the water. However, there are many lakes throughout the world. A lake is a large body of water surrounded by land. There are about 117 million lakes in the world covering about 3% of the Earth's surface, but only 5 of those lakes can be called the Great Lakes.
The five Great Lakes are located in North America between the United States and Canada. They make up the largest body of fresh water on the Earth. The area is over 95,000 square miles.
The lakes touch Ontario and Toronto, Canada and border eight states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The Great Lakes were formed about 14,000 years ago by a large glacier (a sheet of ice) as it melted.
The Great Lakes are used for many reasons such as boating, fishing, and many other recreational activities. The lakes are also used for transportation of goods and people with many rivers connecting the lakes. There are about 30,000 islands spread throughout the lake system, though many do not have people living on them.
The largest of the lakes is Lake Superior. It can hold the water from the other four lakes. It is also the deepest of the lakes and the coldest. The city of Duluth, Minnesota is an international port located on Lake Superior. The shoreline of the lake is very rocky. Besides Canada, it borders the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The third largest of the lakes is Lake Michigan, bordering Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. It is the only lake completely inside the United States. The name comes from an Indian word meaning large lake (mishigami). The city of Chicago, Illinois is at its southern tip. Lake Michigan connects to Lake Huron at the Straits of Mackinac. People can travel from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.
The second largest lake, which has the longest shoreline at 3,287 miles is Lake Huron. There are three different extending out of Lake Huron. It was named for the Wyandot Indians, also called the Hurons who lived there. The lake borders Ontario, Canada; and the state of Michigan.
The lake with the shallowest and the warmest waters of all the Great Lakes is Lake Erie. Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the five lakes and receives water from Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. The water is constantly changing in the lake, and it empties into the Niagara River. The lake is bordered by Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York. During the 19th century, ships used the Erie Canal entering the Buffalo River and travel eastward to Albany, NY and then along the Hudson River to New York City. Ship traffic is the highest in Lake Erie, which has the roughest waters. There are more shipwrecks in the lake than any of the other four lakes.
The final and the smallest of the lakes, Lake Ontario, connects to the St. Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean. The lake lies below Lake Erie and receives the water from Niagara Falls. The lake borders Toronto, Canada; as well as the state of New York.
One of the best methods to remember the names of the five lakes is to use HOMES. Each letter is the beginning letter of the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.