US State with highest water to land ratio?

I was curious as to which US State has the highest water to land ratio? I was thinking would it be Minnesota because of all the lakes, or perhaps Florida or Louisiana because of the swamps.
Also if we can substantiate it as to what kind of water. I am thinking the great lakes states don’t count because the border of those states is the water, I guess the lakes might be divided between states but that’s not what I am looking for.

Where is this water? Above ground (visible) water? Water below ground? Water at the border (e.g. Florida with ocean all around it…if so how far out in the water are you allowed to go)? Are you talking water volume or area covered (a deep small lake may have more water than a large shallow lake)?

If you are talking about above ground visible water within a state’s boundaries and deal with area covered then my guess would be for Minnesota as well (just a WAG though).

I would think Alaska just because of size. Or Hawaii if you count the waters it controls to 12 miles out. Minnesota, Florida, and Louisiana must be close. I sure do wish someone would come on here with an explaination or link.

What about Michigan? How far into the Great Lakes do it’s borders go?

Hmm, if we count coastline but discount Hawaii (if it’s in, then it’s a sure thing-- Alaska has a whole lot of interior), Mass. has a whole lot of coastline, with the cape and all. California has a long coast and is pretty thin, too, but of course Florida has two of those.

Michgan’s a good bet. It’s got a chunk of Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, all the way up and around Isle Royale. Much larger total area than all of Minnesota’s inland lakes combined. The Minnesota arrowhead into Lake Superior isn’t enough to compensate, IMHO.

On coastal states, the boundary just goes out to international waters (12 miles at present) but on the great lakes the state borders can go out over 100 miles, in the case of Superior. IMHO.

If you count frozen water (i.e. glaciers) then Alaska.
I think Alaska would also win on coastline too, capybara. Hawaii would probably total little more than the Aleutians.

If I remember my sixth-grade water conservation instruction correctly, Kentucky has more lakes and streams than any other. I really wonder if my memory is correct on that, yet I vividly remember writing a report centered on this very topic.

I am going to check up, and report back. :slight_smile:

I’d go with Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is a good bet. It’s small and it has that Narragansett bay in the middle of it. If you include the water between it and Block Island, it probably more than half water.

Next to that, I’d guess Maryland. Chesapeake Bay takes up a large portion of it.

The watery part of both is obvious on any map.

The World Almanac on-line (at, but you might not have access to it) reports the land area and inland water area (both in km[sup]2[/sup]). These seem to be the best available data to answer the OP.

I didn’t check every state–only the more obvious ones listed in this thread. The tentative winners (listed by ratio of land area / inland water area) are:

Michigan 0.41
Florida 0.18
Louisiana 0.16
Alaska 0.13
Maine 0.13
Minnesota 0.08
Kentucky 0.02

Raw data used from the World Almanac are (listed as State Abbv./Land in sq km/inland water in sq km):

AK / 1700139 / 222871
FL / 170313 / 30461
KY / 104665 / 1758
LA / 134275 / 21439
ME / 91653 / 11714
MI / 250738 / 103603
MN / 225182 / 18974

Thanks for all the replies, I think I should have been more clear on the question, I am not interested in coastal waters, what I am talking about is total area of non-frozen water within the land border of a state. So any lakes, rivers, and such would qualify. Can’t include coastal waters since they are not within the land borders. Basically the ratio of water to land within that land area.

In my last post, those are ratios of inland water to land area, not the other way around as I stated… d’oh!

BTW, how could I not bring Texas into it somehow? When yer talkin’ states, now, that jus’ ain’t right!

Land area: 695 676 km[sup]2[/sup]
Inland water area: 17 319 km[sup]2[/sup]

Water-to-land ratio: 0.03

I’m shocked.

Wow, Michigan!?!?!?
They don’t seem to have much water at all, is it all inland water? I mean are they counting parts of the great lakes as part of michigan, it is split so can it be possible that part of the lakes are included??
Just looking at a map it doesn’t seem to be a cnotender if it wasn’t for teh Great Lakes?? But if the Almanac says so who am I to argue?
Just seems wierd, I can’t get into the link unfortunatey?
Also, yea, Texas is bone dry ha? I hear you guys are in a standoof with Mexico about the Rio Grande water for farmers, pretty rough.

I went with USDA Land Cover and Land Use statistics which cover many categories, including this one. They do not present the data in the format you requested, but all the raw numbers are there. I took it upon myself to load them into a database and extract percentages. Here’s what I found:

Top 15 states by ratio of open water to total surface area

State pct
Maryland 21.0
Delaware 18.8
Rhode Island 18.6
Louisiana 12.0
New Jersey 10.0
Florida 8.1
North Carolina 8.1
Virginia 7.1
Massachusetts 6.8
Maine 5.9
Minnesota 5.7
Vermont 4.2
New York 4.0
Connecticut 4.0
New Hampshire 3.9

I also ran a comparison for wetlands in case that was a consideration, but on review I see that it is not part of the original question.

Kentucky, 0.02! I wonder what made me dream up that ‘fact’ from my water conservation class. Perhaps the NUMBER of lakes, streams, etc., is greatest, whereas the actual water volume is much less than other states…

…Or I could be hallucinating the whole thing! :o LOL. At any rate, I emailed the American Rivers organization to get their thoughts on the subject. If they answer, I’ll let you all know.

~Ellen, who grew up at the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers.

Argh! I copied in the wrong table. Sorry about that folks. Here is the correct version. It is based on this chart shwing Earth Cover by state and its underlying dataset. Once again, sorry about the confusion.

State Name Percentage
UTAH 9.8

Checking back with the World Almanac after seeing evilhanz’s results, we’ve still got a couple of discrepancies:

With World Almanac numbers, I get:

Rhode Island 0.32
Deleware 0.22
Maryland 0.21
New Jersey 0.15

Strong contenders all, but still not up there with Michigan in terms of the ratio of inland water area to land area. The almanac “land area” numbers may be the total area of the state (the wording is “such-and-such a state is so-big including so-many sq kms of inland water”–I paraphrase), in which case the “ratios” I’m presenting are actually “percentages” when multiplied by 100. I can’t get anything out of the USDA page to compare these data to, unfortunately.

Raw Data (State / Land* / Inland Water):

RI 4002 / 1295
MD 32135 / 6819
DE 6447 / 1385
NJ 22590 / 3375

*Land or Total area? I’m leaning towards total area.

The actual World almanac wording is (using North Carolina as an example):

So, let me revise my RI numbers:

Total area = 4002 km[sup]2[/sup]
Inland water area = 1295 km[sup]2[/sup]
Land area = 2707 km [sup]2[/sup], taken as Total area - Inland water area

Therefore Water:Land ratio = 0.48, which still doesn’t resemble any of evilhanz’s results!

Having nothing else to do, this fine rainy afternoon in the desert, I’ve also compiled the USDA data to provide a complete list of results:

state water/land water/tot
RI 0.17 14.8%
LA 0.14 12.0%
FL 0.13 11.1%
UT 0.11 9.8%
NC 0.10 9.0%
MA 0.09 7.9%
ME 0.09 7.9%
MD 0.08 7.8%
MN 0.08 7.1%
NJ 0.07 6.3%
DE 0.06 5.7%
SC 0.05 5.0%
VT 0.05 4.9%
NY 0.05 4.8%
CT 0.05 4.5%
NH 0.05 4.5%
NV 0.04 4.3%
VA 0.04 4.2%
WI 0.04 4.2%
MI 0.04 4.0%
WA 0.04 3.9%
CA 0.04 3.4%
ID 0.04 3.4%
AR 0.03 3.3%
TN 0.03 3.3%
GA 0.03 3.1%
MS 0.03 2.8%
AL 0.03 2.7%
KY 0.03 2.7%
ND 0.03 2.6%
OK 0.03 2.6%
TX 0.02 2.3%
IL 0.02 2.2%
PA 0.02 2.2%
SD 0.02 2.1%
OR 0.02 2.1%
MO 0.02 2.1%
MT 0.02 1.9%
IN 0.02 1.8%
WY 0.02 1.7%
OH 0.02 1.6%
PR 0.02 1.6%
IA 0.01 1.3%
NE 0.01 1.2%
WV 0.01 1.2%
HI 0.01 1.1%
CO 0.01 1.0%
KS 0.01 1.0%
AZ 0.01 0.7%
NM 0.00 0.5%

Why do these data disagree with the World Almanac? For one, I think that the WA’s inland water numbers for Michagan must be a type (one order of magnitude off)! Second, the USDA data are only non-federal lands, which might make a difference in the western US, but could be negligible in the eastern US.

Even still, discarding the WA-based MI data as “erroneous”, it seems that both the USDA (tnx to evilhans) and the World Almanac agree on an answer to the OP:

Rhode Island!

Damn! Now I’ve gotta find something else to do until the bar opens…