World Facts

The Largest Lakes in North America

Lake Superior is the largest lake in North America.

North America is a continent situated within the Northern and Western hemispheres. The continent is the third largest in size, behind Asia and Africa, and covers an approximate area of 24,709,000 square kilometers. Much of North America's land is entirely covered in water, since it borders the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Caribbean Sea, to the north, east, and southeast, respectively. The land is also covered by many lakes, some of which are among the largest lakes in the world.

Large Lakes in North America

Lake Superior

The largest lake in North America is Lake Superior. The lake's name did not initially refer to its enormous size, but was described as “la lac superior” by early French explorers in reference to the fact that it was the only lake upstream from the other Great Lakes of North America. However, in the 1760s the British anglicized the lake's name to Lake Superior in reference to its massive size. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and covers a total area of 82,100 square miles.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron is the second largest lake in North America and covers a total surface area of 59,590 square kilometers. Lake Huron receives its primary inlet from Lake Superior, through the St. Mary’s River, and discharges its waters into Lake Erie. Lake Huron is the third-largest freshwater lake in the world. It is located mostly between Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario, which are the third and the eighth largest lakes in North America, respectively.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is the third largest lake in North America and covers a total area of 58,000 square kilometers, an area which is slightly smaller than Lake Huron. However, Lake Michigan is the second largest lake by volume in North America, after Lake Superior.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario covers an area of 18,960 square kilometers, making it the eighth largest lake in North America. Lake Ontario is the fifth deepest among the Great Lakes of North America and has a volume of 1,640 cubic kilometers. Lake Ontario ranks as the fourteenth largest lake in the world. Despite being the smallest of the Great Lakes in terms of surface area, Lake Ontario exceeds Lake Erie in terms of volume.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie covers a total area of 25,700 square kilometers and is the fourth largest among the Great Lakes of North America, but the sixth largest of all lakes in North America. In terms of volume, Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, measuring 484 cubic kilometers.

The Great Lakes of North America

The lakes highlighted above are among the largest lakes in North America. Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are classified as Great Lakes of North America. They are described as Great Lakes because they are some of the most significant natural features of the North American continent, as well as the world. They are a series of freshwater lakes located in the east-central part of North America. However, some lakes in North America are larger by size, such as Great Bear Lake, which is is bigger than Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

The Largest Lakes in North America

RankLakeArea (Km Sq)
1Lake Superior82,100
2Lake Huron59,600
3Lake Michigan58,000
4Great Bear Lake31,000
5Great Slave Lake27,000
6Lake Erie25,700
7Lake Winnipeg25,514
8Lake Ontario18,960
9Lake Nicaragua8,264
10Lake Athbasca7,850

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