Lakes are among the most valued natural resources of central Florida. The landscape of central Florida is riddled with lakeswhen viewed from the air, it almost seems there is more water than land. Florida has more naturally formed lakes than other southeastern States, where many lakes are created by building dams across streams. The abundance of lakes on the Florida peninsula is a result of the geology and geologic history of the State. An estimated 7,800 lakes in Florida are greater than 1 acre in surface area. Of these, 35 percent are located in just four counties (fig. 1): Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Polk (Hughes, 1974b). Lakes add to the aesthetic and commercial value of the area and are used by many residents and visitors for fishing, boating, swimming, and other types of outdoor recreation. Lakes also are used for other purposes such as irrigation, flood control, water supply, and navigation. Residents and visitors commonly ask questions such as Whyare there so many lakes here?, Why is my lake drying up (or flooding)?, or Is my lake spring-fed? These questions indicate that the basic hydrology of lakes and the interaction of lakes with ground water and surface water are not well understood by the general population. Because of the importance of lakes to residents of central Florida and the many questions and misconceptions about lakes, this primer was prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the St. Johns River Water Management District and the South Florida Water Management District.