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Satellite image of the Great Lakes, April 24, 2000, with lake names added
Terra MODIS image of the Great Lakes, January 27, 2005, showing ice beginning to build up around the shores of each of the lakes, with snow on the ground.
Photograph of Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron plus the Finger Lakes of upstate New York, June 14, 2012, taken aboard the International Space Station, with lake names added

The Great Lakes (also called the Laurentian Great Lakes,<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> or the Great Lakes of North America) are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada–United States border, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron (or Michigan–Huron), Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The total surface is {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}}, and the total volume (measured at the low water datum) is {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}}.<ref name="EPAphysical">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Due to their sea-like characteristics (rolling waves, sustained winds, strong currents, great depths, and distant horizons) the five Great Lakes have also long been referred to as inland seas.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world by area, and Lake Michigan is the largest lake that is entirely within one country.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

The Great Lakes began to form at the end of the last glacial period around 100,000 years ago, as retreating ice sheets carved basins into the land and they became filled with meltwater.<ref name="CordellLightfoot2008">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The lakes have been a major highway for transportation, migration and trade, and they are home to a large number of aquatic species. Many invasive species have been introduced due to trade, and some threaten the region's biodiversity.


Great Lakes sections
Intro  Geography  Name origins  Statistics  Geology  Climate  Ecology  History  Economy  Legislation  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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