All the rivers of Louisiana flow into the Gulf of Mexico or into other rivers that do so. The principal rivers that lie in or partly in Louisiana are the Mississippi, Red, Ouachita, Sabine, Pearl, Atchafalaya, and Calcasieu rivers.
The Gulf Coastal Plain can be divided into three subregions, or sections, all of which lie partly within Louisiana. They are, from east to west, the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, and the West Gulf Coastal Plain.
The Mississippi River, one of the greatest rivers in the world, meanders sluggishly in a southerly and then southeasterly direction through Louisiana. For much of its length, south of the Louisiana-Arkansas state line, the river forms Louisiana’s boundary with Mississippi. However, the lowermost reaches of the river lie entirely within Louisiana.
The principal tributary of the Mississippi in Louisiana is the Red River, which flows diagonally across the West Gulf Coastal Plain.
A few miles west of the Mississippi the Red River divides into the Atchafalaya River, which flows southward to the Gulf of Mexico, and the Old River, which joins the Mississippi via a flood control structure. The Ouachita River, the lower section of which is known as the Black River, is the chief tributary of the Red River. The lower Sabine River forms much of the Texas-Louisiana state line. The Pearl River (and the East Pearl River after the river divides) form the Louisiana-Mississippi state line at the eastern tip of Louisiana. The Calcasieu River is the chief river within the southwestern part of the state. Numerous shallow streams, many of which are called bayous, thread the low-lying sections of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the southern sections of the East and West Gulf Coastal plains. In Louisiana the terms “river” and “bayou” have, over the years, been used almost interchangeably in naming the state’s rivers and streams.
Lakes are numerous in low-lying Louisiana. The largest lake is Lake Pontchartrain, a brackish lake covering 1,619 sq km (625 sq mi). Other large brackish lakes (those containing a mixture of seawater and freshwater) in the south are Salvador, Sabine, Calcasieu, Grand, White, Maurepas, and Caillou lakes. The principal freshwater lakes are on the Red River and its tributaries. In addition, small oxbow lakes are numerous in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Oxbow lakes are formed when a river cuts through the neck of one of its loops, or meanders, thus establishing a shorter course and leaving the former loop as a lake separate from the river. Louisiana also has some artificially created reservoirs. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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