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Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are a group of five large lakes on or near the United States-Canadian border. They are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system is the largest fresh-water system in the world.

The Great Lakes are:

Four of these lakes straddle the US-Canada border; the fifth, Lake Michigan, is entirely within the United States. The Saint Lawrence River, which marks the same international border for portions of its course, is a primary outlet of these interconnected lakes, leading past the Gaspé Peninsula[?] to the northern Atlantic Ocean.

A smaller sixth lake, Lake St. Clair, is part of the Great Lakes system between Lake Huron and Lake Erie but is not officially one of the Great Lakes.

Also, Lake Champlain briefly became the sixth Great Lake of the United States on March 6, 1998, when President Clinton signed Senate Bill 927. This bill, which reauthorized the Sea Grant Program[?], contained a line penned by Senator Patrick Leahy[?] (D-VT) declaring Lake Champlain to be a Great Lake. Not coincidentally, this status allows neighboring states to apply for additional federal research and education funds allocated to these national resources. Following a small uproar (and several New York Times articles), the Great Lake status was rescinded (although Vermont universities continue to receive funds to monitor and study the lake.)

The Saint Lawrence Seaway opens the Great Lakes to ocean-going vessels.

  • Geologic Pre-History
The Great Lakes were formed at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, when the Laurentide Glaciation[?] receded, leaving behind a large amount of meltwater (see Lake Agassiz).
What else?
  • Pre-European History of the Lakes
  • European History of the Lakes
  • Modern Economy of the Lakes
  • Great Lakes Ecology


This term can also be used to identify of a number of lakes throughout the world, and the region around them. Most important, in East Africa, the Great Lakes Region is the area around Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Nyasa Lake[?], and Lake Albert[?].

There is also the place Great Lakes, New South Wales[?] in Australia.



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