Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third largest by volume. Located in the northern Midwest of the United States, Lake Superior is the northernmost of the five Great Lakes. Lake Superior is bordered by three states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Lake Superior is the coldest, largest, and deepest of the Great Lakes – averaging 40 degrees Fahrenheit and bottoming out at 1,332 feet deep (733 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point in the United States).
Due to Lake Superior’s cold temperatures and great depths, it is relatively sparsely populated by underwater flora and fauna. Despite having fairly low productivity for its size, Lake Superior is home to more than 80 species of fish, hosts one of the world’s largest raptor migration flyways, and straddles two major ecosystem making it home for plants found in northern mixed forests as well as boreal species.
This Great Lake’s first earliest known human inhabitants arrived following the glaciers of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. Many groups of people lived in the Lake Superior basin as time wore on, setting up lifestyles around fishing, hunting, and living off the fruits of the northern mixed forest. Europeans set up trade routes through the region to procure and distribute pelts. By the 18th century the French fur trade was booming. By the 19th century, the regions industry turned to other natural resources – copper and iron were being extracted from the ground and trees were being harvested and turned into lumber for the growing cities in the Midwest.