Islands

Michigan has the second longest coastline of any state after Alaska. Michigan is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes. Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior. The Great Lakes islands consist of about 35,000 islands scattered throughout Great Lakes, created by uneven glacial activity in the Great Lakes Basin in Canada (Ontario) and the United States. The largest of these is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron in the province of Ontario. At 1,068 square miles, it is the largest lake island in the world. Michigan also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds, as well as innumerable rivers, that may contain their own islands included in this list. The majority of the islands are within the Great Lakes. Other islands can also be found within other waterways of the Great Lake system, including Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Detroit River, and St. Mary’s River.

Mackinac Island is an island and resort area, covering 4.35 square miles. The name of the island in Odawa is Michilimackinac and “Mitchimakinak” (Ojibwe: mishimikinaak) in Ojibwe meaning “Big Turtle”. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was long home to an Odawa settlement and previous indigenous cultures before European colonization began in the 17th century. It was a strategic center of the fur trade around the Great Lakes. Based on a former trading post, Fort Mackinac was constructed on the island by the British during the American Revolutionary War. It was the site of two battles during the War of 1812 before the northern border was settled and the US gained this island in its territory.

In the late 19th century, Mackinac Island became a popular tourist attraction and summer colony. Many of the structures on the island have undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration. Because of its historic significance, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is well known for numerous cultural events; a wide variety of architectural styles, including the Victorian Grand Hotel; and its ban on almost all motor vehicles. More than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park.

The largest of all the islands is Isle Royale in Lake Superior, which, in addition to its waters and other surrounding islands, is organized as Isle Royale National Park. Isle Royale itself is 206 square miles. The most populated island is Grosse Ile with approximately 10,000 residents, located in the Detroit River about 10 miles south of Detroit. The majority of Michigan’s islands are uninhabited and very small. Some of these otherwise unusable islands have been used for the large number of Michigan’s lighthouses to aid in shipping throughout the Great Lakes, while others have been set aside as nature reserves. Many islands in Michigan have the same name, even some that are in the same municipality and body of water, such as Gull, Long, or Round islands. Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes, and the coastline is sparsely populated. At 206 square miles, Isle Royale is the largest Michigan island and is the center of Isle Royale National Park, which itself contains over 450 islands. The following is a list of islands in Lake Superior that are not part of Isle Royale National Park. For those islands, see the list of islands in Isle Royale National Park.

Only Monroe County and a very small portion of Wayne County have boundaries within the westernmost portion of Lake Erie. The lake has a mean surface elevation of 571 feet. The islands in the southern portion of the county are part of the North Maumee Bay Archeological District of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, while northern islands are part of Pointe Mouillee State Game Area at the mouth of the Huron River and Detroit River. Turtle Island is the only island in the state of Michigan that is shared by another state, as it is divided with the state of Ohio.

Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes (after Lake Superior) with a surface area of 23,010 square miles. Michigan is the only state to border Lake Huron, while the portion of the lake on the other side of the international border belongs to the province of Ontario. The vast majority of Michigan’s islands in Lake Huron are centered around Drummond Island in the northernmost portion of the state’s lake territory. Another large group of islands is the Les Cheneaux Islands archipelago, which itself contains dozens of small islands. Many of the lake’s islands are very small and uninhabited. As the most popular tourist destination in the state, Mackinac Island is the most well known of Lake Huron’s islands. Drummond Island is the state’s second-largest island (after Isle Royale) and is the most populous of Michigan’s islands in Lake Huron, with a population of 1,058 at the 2010 census. While Mackinac Island had a population of 492, there are thousands more seasonal workers and tourists during the summer months.

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