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The Third Coast
Credit: Jesse Lewis
Collectively made up of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario, the Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth. Squashed between the borders of the United States and Canada in the midst of the North American continent, these giant freshwater seas have long been the defining feature ecologically, culturally and economically in this part of the world since time immemorial.
Extending over 80,545 square miles (206,610 square kilometers) in surface area and over 5,412 cubic miles (22,560 cubic km) in volume, the Great Lakes hold over 20 percent of the surface fresh water on planet Earth. To give some sense of this immense scale, the whole of the United Kingdom could easily fit within the Great Lakes with room to spare.
Despite their beauty and vastness, outside of this region they are often overlooked and unknown. But to many who live along these northern coasts sometimes called the "Third Coast" the Great Lakes are a constant companion, a treasure and a well-kept secret.