Lake Erie (/ˈɪəri/; French: Lac Érié) is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the thirteenth largest globally if measured in terms of surface area. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. Lake Erie's northern shore is bounded by the Canadian province of Ontario, with US states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York on its southern and easternmost shores and Michigan on the west. These jurisdictions divide the surface area of the lake by water boundaries. The lake was named by the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore. That Iroquoian tribe called it "Erige"("cat") because of its unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous nature. It is a matter of conjecture whether the lake was named after the tribe, or if the tribe was called "Erie" because of its proximity to the lake.
Situated below Lake Huron, Erie's primary inlet is the Detroit River. The main natural outflow from the lake is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls at Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. Some outflow occurs via the Welland Canal which diverts water for ship passages from Port Colborne, Ontario on Lake Erie, to St. Catharines on Lake Ontario, an elevation difference of 326 ft (99 m). Lake Erie's environmental health has been an ongoing concern for decades, with issues such as overfishing, pollution and algal blooms and eutrophication generating headlines.