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The geography of New Orleans could almost be described as a tug-of-war between land and water.

The Crescent City nestles in a wide, U-shaped curve of the Mississippi River. North of the city lies Lake Pontchartrain. Swamps and marshes surround the area.

This NASA satellite photo shows how New Orleans is surrounded by water. The big blue, circular area in the center of the photo is Lake Pontchartrain. The blue squiggle going roughly west to east below the lake is the Mississippi River. The gray area between the lake and the river is Greater New Orleans. West, south, and east of New Orleans are the lacy green areas that are swamps and marshes.