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A lake (in Scotland a loch and in Ireland a lough) is an area (prototypically filled with water, also of variable size), localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Lakes lie on land and are not part of the ocean (except for sea lochs in Scotland and Ireland), and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are also larger and deeper than ponds, though there are no official or scientific definitions.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams, which are usually flowing. However most lakes are fed and drained by rivers and streams.

Natural lakes are generally found in mountainous areas, rift zones, and areas with ongoing glaciation. Other lakes are found in endorheic basins or along the courses of mature rivers. In some parts of the world there are many lakes because of chaotic drainage patterns left over from the last Ice Age. All lakes are temporary over geologic time scales, as they will slowly fill in with sediments or spill out of the basin containing them.

Many lakes are artificial and are constructed for industrial or agricultural use, for hydro-electric power generation or domestic water supply, or for aesthetic or recreational purposes.

Lake sections
Intro   Etymology, meaning, and usage of \"lake\"    Distribution of lakes    Origin of natural lakes    Types of lakes    Characteristics    Limnology    How lakes disappear    Extraterrestrial lakes    Notable lakes on Earth    See also    References    External links   

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