Houseboat is any kind of floating home. In the United States and Canada, houseboats are used mainly for pleasure, although some persons use them as homes. People own or rent houseboats on lakes and rivers.
   Houseboats vary in length from 24 to 32 feet, but some are more than 50 feet long. The hull can be made of several materials, including plywood, fiber-glassed plywood, aluminum, steel, or a combination of aluminum and steel. Most houseboats are small and simply furnished. But some have several rooms, with all the conveniences of the modern home, including a stove, refrigerator, running water, hot-water heater, and electric lights.
   Most houseboats must be towed from place to place. But many modern houseboats are designed to remain in the water all year. A houseboat may have retractable wheels, and also serve as a house trailer. Many houseboats have engines. They have a maximum speed of about 12 miles an hour.
   In other regions of the world, houseboats provide homes for many persons. In parts of China, thousands of people live on river boats all their lives. They buy their supplies from floating stores.
   During World War II, houseboats were used at navy bases in the Pacific Islands.