Wisconsin Geography Trivia


General Statistics and Curiosities

  • Based on the 2020 U.S. Census, the population of Wisconsin is 5,893,718 as of April 1, 2020.
  • Wisconsin has 72 counties.
  • The total area of Wisconsin is 65,496 square miles according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  That figure includes all inland waters AND the portions of Lakes Michigan and Superior that legally fall within the state.
  • The total land area of the state is 54,158 square miles according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  However, that figure excludes all inland waters (e.g., Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin River, Mississippi River, etc.) and Lakes Michigan and Superior.
  • The largest county in Wisconsin is Marathon.  According to U.S. Census data, Marathon County has a land area of 1,545 square miles.  But if you add inland lakes and waterways, the total is 1,575 square miles based on Wisconsin DNR geographic data.
  • Based on U.S. Census data shown in TIGERweb, Pepin County has a land area of 232 square miles, compared to a land area of 233.1 square miles for Ozaukee County.  However,  these figures exclude areas covered by water.
    • If you include the waters of the Mississippi River that extend to the legal boundary of the state between Minnesota and Wisconsin (which is the “center of the main channel of the Mississippi River”) plus all inland lakes and rivers, Pepin County has a total area of 238.7 square miles according to the U.S. Census.
    • If you include the waters of Lake Michigan that to extend to the legal boundary between Michigan and Wisconsin, plus all inland lakes and rivers, Ozaukee County is technically 1,116.19 square miles!
    • Therefore, if you consider Wisconsin’s legal boundaries and include all inland waters in the totals, Pepin is the smallest county in Wisconsin.
  • The geographic center of Wisconsin is up to debate.  The City of Pittsville in Wood County is considered the “ceremonial” center of Wisconsin thanks to a proclamation by Governor Walter J. Kohl in 1952.  The true geographic center based on several publications (Barmore 1993; USGS, 1964; Rogerson, 2015) is actually closer to Auburndale, WI.  To make matters even more complicated, the geographic center of the state will be different depending upon the boundary used.  If the legal boundary of the state is used, which includes portions of Lakes Michigan and Superior, the center is actually much further to the east.  Specifically, northeast of Junction City in Portage County.  Given the complexities involved, perhaps it’s best to let the people of Pittsville claim their fine city as the geographic center of Wisconsin!
  • The center of the northwestern hemisphere (45 degrees north, 90 degrees west) falls in Wisconsin near Poniatowski.
  • Weyauwega? Oconomowoc? Wisconsin has some rather difficult-to-pronounce place names.  Check out Pronounce Wisconsin to get them right. Impress your friends when you say “Shawano” correctly!

Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers

  • Wisconsin has over 15,000 lakes of which over 6,000 are named. Many larger lakes have been mapped for their depths.  But which state has more lakes, Minnesota or Wisconsin?  It’s complicated.
  • The largest inland lake is Lake Winnebago which covers an area of approximately 206 square miles (131,939 acres to be exact).
  • Wisconsin’s deepest natural inland lake is Green Lake in Green Lake County with a maximum depth of 236 feet. The deepest artificial lake is Wazee Lake near Black River Falls in Jackson County with a maximum depth of 350 feet.
  • Our longest river is the Wisconsin River which flows approximately 430 miles from Lac Vieux Desert in northern Wisconsin to the Mississippi River near the town of Prairie du Chien on the Wisconsin-Iowa border. Over that course, the river drops roughly 1,072 feet.
  • One estimate of the length of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes shoreline is 1,017 miles. This number can vary significantly depending on the data used to make the calculation.

Elevations of Note

Last updated: June 8, 2023