The Great Lakes account for one-fifth of the world's surface freshwater supply. The combined shoreline of the Great Lakes equals about 44% of the of the Earth. The Great Lakes have more than 30,000 islands. Most of the islands are small and uninhabitable. The largest is Lake Huronís Manitoulin Island (1,068 square miles), which is also the largest island in any inland body of water on the planet.
Lake Michigan: The name is derived from the Ojibwa Indian word mishigami, meaning large lake. However, it is only the third largest of the Great Lakes when measured by water surface (22,300 square miles). It is also the only Great Lake located entirely in the United States. The largest fresh water sand dunes in the world line its shores. Sleeping Bear Dunes rise 460 feet above the lake surface. In the mid-19th century, Lake Michigan had a pirate problem. Their plunder: timber.
Lake Ontario: Ontario is the Huron word for lake of shining water. This lake is the smallest of all the Great Lakes when measured in surface area (7,340 square miles). While it is similar in width and length to Lake Erie, it is much deeper and holds about four times the water volume (393 cubic miles). Babe Ruth hit his at Hanlan's Point Stadium in Toronto. It landed in Lake Ontario and is believed to still be there.
Lake Erie: The name was derived from erielhonan, the Iroquoian word for long tail, which describes its shape. It is the fourth largest of the Great Lakes when measured in surface area (9,910 square miles) and the smallest by water volume (116 cubic miles). The original publication of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax contained the line, "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie." Fourteen years later, the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss to make the case that conditions had improved. He removed the line.
Lake Superior: At 31,699 square miles, it is the largest in surface area and in water volume (2,903 cubic miles), thus earning it the name Lake Superior. Lake Superior contains 3 quadrillion (3,000,000,000,000,000) gallons of water. All five of the Great Lakes combined contain 6 quadrillion gallons. There is enough water in Lake Superior to submerge all of North and South America in 1 foot of water. The name comes from the French wordlac supérieur, meaning upper lake, as it is north of Lake Huron. Isle Royale is a massive island in the lake. Within this island are several smaller lakes.
Lake Huron: Named for the Wyandot Indians, or Hurons, who lived there. Lake Huron is the second largest Great Lake by surface area (23,000 square miles) and has the longest shoreline (3,827 miles, including its many islands).
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