If you're going to be living in Central Asia as a web designer, you'll have the opportunity to see many of the worlds most famous lakes, such as Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan, which is part fresh water, part salt water, and rapidly disappearing because the lakes that feed it are being diverted. However, if you want to visit the world's largest collection of freshwater lakes, you'll have to go to central North America where the Great Lakes live. We can tell you all about them here.

The Great Lakes consist of five bodies of water, four of which form part of the border between the United States and Canada and one of which (Lake Michigan) is located entirely in the United States. The region around lakes Superior, Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Michigan are very beautiful and have been the subject to of many paintings. This lake system is so large that it comprises 21% of all the fresh water on earth and is sometimes referred to as "the third coast" by Americans.

Because the Great Lakes are connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes Waterway, they are an ideal way for cities along the Great Lakes coast, such as Buffalo, New York; Toronto, Ontario; Chicago, Illinois; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin to export and receive their manufactured goods. Many things in the average home have arrived in stores via huge Great Lakes container ships, cargo ships, and tankers, meaning these lakes are very busy with shipping traffic.

The Great Lakes aren't just about shipping, however. There are many cottages, resorts, campgrounds, and residences along the shores of the Great Lakes which take advantage of the water views. Condos with views of Lake Ontario are easily twice the price of ones without. The Great Lakes are often used for fishing, canoeing, boating, kayaking, sailing, water skiing, and swimming in areas where shipping has not polluted the water too much. Thanks to an invasive species of mussel known as the zebra mussel, the water is no longer clouded by sediment - instead it is crystal clear.

Before you can grab a canoe and set it loose on one of the lakes, you may have to take your canoe through one of the locks connecting the five lakes. Because the lakes are not all at the same elevation, locks are used to raise and lower boats from the level of one lake to the next. These locks are used not just by commercial ships but also by small pleasure craft such as yachts and kayaks. Riding a Great Lakes lock is a must-experience event for many pleasure boaters planning to visit the Great Lakes area.

There are many dedicated to keeping the Great Lakes clean and green from environmental toxins and sewage spills. Public awareness about water conservation is at all an time high and protecting the wildlife is of utmost importance. You can learn more about how you can help keep our waters clean at Greatlakes.org.

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