The Great Lakes and Their Borders
The Great Lakes are a group of five freshwater lakes located in North America, straddling the border between Canada and the United States. These lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes region is home to over 30 million people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in North America.
The Great Lakes serve as a vital source of water for the surrounding communities and provide a rich ecosystem that supports a diverse range of plant and animal species. The borders of the Great Lakes have played an important role in shaping the cultural, economic, and political landscape of the region.
Lake Superior: Bordering States
Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes and is located between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The lake is bordered by the Pukaskwa National Park in Canada and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the United States. Lake Superior is home to a wide range of fish species, including lake trout, whitefish, and northern pike.
Lake Michigan: Bordering States
Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake located entirely within the United States, bordered by the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The lake is a popular tourist destination, known for its sandy beaches, scenic bluffs, and vibrant coastal communities. Lake Michigan is also an important shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes with the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean.
Lake Huron: Bordering States
Lake Huron is located between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The lake is the second-largest of the Great Lakes and is home to a diverse range of aquatic species, including lake sturgeon, walleye, and yellow perch. Lake Huron is also an important source of hydroelectric power, with several dams and power plants located along its shores.
Lake Erie: Bordering States
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and is located between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The lake is a popular destination for recreational boating and fishing, with a variety of fish species, including walleye, perch, and smallmouth bass. Lake Erie is also an important shipping channel, connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River system.
Lake Ontario: Bordering States
Lake Ontario is located between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. The lake is the smallest of the Great Lakes but is still an important source of water for the surrounding communities. Lake Ontario is also a popular destination for recreational fishing and boating, with a variety of fish species, including salmon, trout, and bass.
Total Number of States Bordering the Great Lakes
In total, the Great Lakes are bordered by eight US states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York) and one Canadian province (Ontario). The Great Lakes region is home to over 100 Native American tribes, many of whom have lived in the area for thousands of years.
The Impact of Great Lakes Borders on Regional Economy
The Great Lakes play a crucial role in the economy of the region, with industries such as shipping, tourism, and manufacturing relying heavily on the lakes’ resources. The ports of the Great Lakes are a vital link in global trade, handling millions of tons of cargo each year. Tourism is also a major industry in the Great Lakes region, with millions of visitors flocking to the lakes each year to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
Environmental Concerns and Cross-Border Cooperation
The Great Lakes are facing a range of environmental challenges, including invasive species, pollution, and habitat loss. To address these challenges, cooperation and coordination across the borders of the Great Lakes are essential. International treaties such as the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Joint Strategic Plan for Great Lakes Restoration are helping to promote cross-border collaboration and protect the health of the lakes.
Legal Framework and International Treaties
The legal framework governing the Great Lakes is complex and involves a range of international treaties, federal and state laws, and tribal agreements. The Great Lakes Compact, signed in 2008, is a federal law that regulates the use and management of Great Lakes water resources. The treaty between the US and Canada known as the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 provides a framework for resolving disputes between the two countries over the use of shared water resources.
Conclusion: The Significance of Great Lakes Borders
The borders of the Great Lakes have played a crucial role in shaping the cultural, economic, and political landscape of the region. The lakes are a vital source of water for the surrounding communities and support a diverse range of plant and animal species. Protecting the health of the lakes and promoting cross-border cooperation is essential to ensure that the Great Lakes continue to provide these benefits for generations to come.
References and Further Reading
- Great Lakes Commission. (2021). About the Great Lakes. https://www.glc.org/about
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Great Lakes.
- Government of Canada. (2021). The Great Lakes. https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/great-lakes-protection.html