The Great Lake States, those eight states that share a boarder with the five great lakes, are (from west to east) Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The area, known geologically as the Great Lakes Basin, contains the watersheds of Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi, St. Lawrence, Richelieu, Hudson, Mohawk, and Susquehanna rivers, many of which feed into the Atlantic Ocean.
At six quadrillion gallons, it contains twenty percent (1/5) of the total freshwater on the surface of the planet. It also contains 84% of the freshwater surface in North America. It is these geological features that have allowed the Great Lake States to have the largest economy on the planet, when considered as a whole (see below).
The eight Great Lake States, along with the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, are part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis, the largest chain of cities in North America. In the United States alone, the cities in this region have a population of nearly 30 million. This comes in at just under 10% of the total population of the United States.
While there is no information about the total land area of these states, the total shoreline is about 10,000 miles, or about 40% of the earth’s circumference.
The Great Lake States are world leaders in manufacturing, research, and development, particularly in the automobile industry.
According to the Brookings Institution, when taken as a single unit, and without Canada’s provinces, the U.S. Great Lake States are one of the largest economies in the world. They have a total Gross Domestic Product of about $4 trillion, which is about 20% of the total GDP of the US. At 10% of the U.S. population, they produce more than their “share” of GDP. Much of this production is centered in Chicago (the third largest megacity in the US) and the Detroit, Michigan automobile conglomerate. New York State, however, also produces 25% of this production, and is the single largest economic power in the region. The Great Lake States are in the eastern and central time zones of the United States. New York is the state with the largest population (nearly 20 million), and Minnesota is the least populated state in the region with just over 5.5 million people.