chO'bE] the fourth largest lake by surface area
completely within the United States, and the
largest in the Southern United States.
Covering about 730 square miles
(1,890 square kilometers) of south-central
Florida, Lake Okeechobee has an average depth of
only nine feet (three meters). There are several
inflows, including Taylor Creek and the Kissimmee
River, and several outflows, including the Miami
River, the New River, and the Shark River. The
surface is above sea level, and the lake is
enclosed by a 20-foot-high dike. The lake was
formed about 6,000 years ago, when ocean levels
dropped and water was left standing in a
limestone basin. The original lake was probably
saline, but over time the salt water was replaced
by freshwater from rainfall.
Okeechobee is from the
Seminole word for big water.
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