Geography vocabulary

From A+ Club Lesson Planner & Study Guide

Geography Vocabulary [category:Geography] [category:Social Studies] [category:Social Studies Skills]

  • code for EXPAND/COLLAPSE functions:

code: <div class="mw-collapsible mw-collapsed" style="width:50%"> ------------------------------------------------------------------- text * for bullets * '''>''' for bullets with bold ------------------------------------------------------------------- </div> * Click EXPAND to see list of important >>

Five Themes of Geography[edit | edit source]

  • Location
    • Absolute Location
    • Relative Location
  • Regions
  • Place
  • Movement
  • Human-Environment Interaction (Relationships within Places)
    • Cultural Diffusion
  • See Social Studies Skills

Map terminology[edit | edit source]

  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Equator
  • Prime Meridian
  • International Dateline
  • Meridians
  • Parallels
  • a.m. / p.m.
  • equinox
  • solstice
  • Tropic of Cancer
  • Tropic of Capricorn

Physical Geography[edit | edit source]

  • the study of the elements that constitute the earth's surface and how they interact
    • includes meteorology, which is the study of weather and weather prediction
  • [Physical geography(wiki)]

Water bodies[edit | edit source]

bay[edit | edit source]

canal[edit | edit source]

  • man-made straits that connect two larger bodies of water
  • canals provide important water passage to connect water bodies that would otherwise require long-distance water travel around land bodies or continents
    • usually canals are built across isthmuses
  • Click EXPAND to see list of important canals

  • Bahr Yussef
    • connects the Nile to the Faiyum Oasis and Lake Moeris, built 2300 BC
  • Canal of the Pharaohs
    • connected the Nile to the Red Sea
    • built by Necho II, Assyrian ruler of Egypt in 7th century BC
    • Persian king Darius I bragged of building a canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea (6th century BC)
  • Corinth Canal
  • Grand Canal
    • connected the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, built under the Sui dynasty (6th century AD)
  • Suez Canal
  • Panama Canal

channel[edit | edit source]

  • synonymous with "strait" but usually referring to a smaller or less important strait
  • see strait below

delta[edit | edit source]

geyser[edit | edit source]

A cross-section of a geyser in action
  • an underground water source that is intermittently ejected into the air above the surface as steam
  • geysers exist near active volcanic regions
    • whose proximity of magma heats rocks that boil the ground water, usually at depths of 6,600 ft
      • as the water boils, it builds pressure and intermittently erupts as steam and water out of the ground
      • the ground water then refills and repeats the process of heating and exploding

gulf[edit | edit source]

lake[edit | edit source]

  • "terminal lake" = lakes that have no outflow are called
    • terminal lakes occur in basins and drains

ocean[edit | edit source]

sea[edit | edit source]

spring[edit | edit source]

  • to do
  • epicontinental sea
    • = sea levels above continental shelfs, thus 400 ft or above sea level

strait[edit | edit source]

  • a narrow body of water that connects larger bodies of water, or, a narrow channel that separates land masses
  • synonymous with channel, passage, or pass
    • implicit in the terminology is that the strait allows for navigation, or passage, from one larger body of water to another
  • "strait comes from Old French "estreit" for "tight" or "narrow"

click EXPAND to see list of important straits:

  • important straits and channels
  • Bosporus Strait
    • connects Black Sea to Aegean/Mediterranean Seas
  • Strait of Gibraltar
    • connects Mediterranean Sea to Atlantic Ocean
    • ancient Greeks called the promontories on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar the "Pillars of Hercules", which marked the passage from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean
  • Strait of Magellan
    • connects Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
    • the passageway near the southern tip of South America that was navigated by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first expedition to circumnavigated the globe
    • the Strait of Magellan is not "straight" -- is actually a U-shaped pathway formed by the Tierra del Fuego archipelago (chain of islands)
  • Beagle Channel
    • a second, less navigable passageway near the southern tip of South America that was navigated by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle
    • NOTE: the open-ocean passageway, around the very tip of South America is called "Drake's Passage", named for English explorer Francis Drake who circumnavigated the globe
  • Strait of Hormuz
  • Bass Strait
    • between Australia and Tasmania
  • Bering Strait
  • Strait of Messina
  • Bab-el Mendeb Strait
  • Strait of Malacca
  • Strait of Dover
  • Strait of Singapore
  • See:

river[edit | edit source]

  • rivers flow downhill, usually but not always into an ocean
    • upstream v. downstream
  • tributary
  • estuary
  • Gulf of Ob
    • world's longest estuary
    • fed by the Ob River and feeding into the Kara Sea (part of the Arctic Ocean)
  • delta
  • silt
  • flow & discharge
    • measurement of the amount of water a river carries
  • Ten longest rivers in the world
    • note: there is always a dispute over these lists as to the exact measurement
    • this list is derived from ** See [of rivers by length (wiki)]
      • which measures total length of river systems (i.e., includes tributaries)
  • Click EXPAND to see list of the ten longest rivers

  • 1. Nile (Africa; flows into Mediterranean Sea)
  • 2. Amazon (South America; flows into Atlantic Ocean)
  • 3. Yangtze (China; flows into East China Sea
  • 4. Mississippi (North America; flows into Gulf of Mexico)
  • 5. Yenisei (Mongolia-Russia; flows into Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean)
  • 6. Yellow or Huang He (China; flows into Bohai Sea, part of the Yellow Sea)
  • 7. Ob (northern-central Asia; flows into the Gulf of Ob, feeding into the Kara Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean)
  • 8. Rio de la Plata-Parana (South America; flows into the Rio de la Plata estuary, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean)
  • 9. Congo (Central Africa; flows into the Atlantic Ocean
  • 10. Amur (northern-central Asia, flows into the Sea of Okhost, part of the Pacific Ocean)
  • See also [Top 10 Largest Rivers in the world]

oasis[edit | edit source]

  • See Ancient Egypt outline

See also:

  • Hydrology / water cycle

sink[edit | edit source]

  • the lowest point in a "drain" that the collects water that has no outflow from the drain
  • the waterflow in a drain or to a sink does not flow outside of that region
  • usually a lake or a swamp
  • may evaporate, such as the Great Salt Lake

stream[edit | edit source]

atmosphere[edit | edit source]

winds[edit | edit source]

  • Trade winds: blow from east to west (generally)
  • Westerlies: blow from west to east (generally
    • these winds defined oceanic travel during the "age of sail" (wind-powered boats)
    • they also defined location and direction of European expeditions during the Age of Discovery
      • ex. the Portuguese discovered Brazil because their ships had to sail west, across the Atlantic in order to catch the winds and currents that would then carry their ships south and east to cross the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope (southern tip of Africa)
  • windward v. leeward
    • windward = upwind, or that side facing or nearest to the incoming wind
    • leeward = downwind, or that side facing away or furthest from the incoming wind
      • see the Lesser Antilles for the "Leeward" and "Westward" Islands

Land forms[edit | edit source]

archipelago[edit | edit source]

  • a series of geographically proximate or geologically similarly island, usually formed in a chain or a cluster

basin[edit | edit source]

  • a land depression in an area or region which has no outflow of water
    • i.e., all the rivers and other water sources are contained within it
    • and none of those waters flow into an ocean
    • instead, the water flows into a "drain", usually a lake or swamp region

click EXPAND for important basins

  • the Great Basin, western United States
    • "basin" = lowlands between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada
    • there is no waterflow exiting the Great Basin
    • the Great Salt Lake is one of three major drains n the Great Basin
      • called a "terminal lake"
      • it is the 8th largest in the world
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana, Africa
    • a swampy, inland delta region that collects rain and water flow of the Okavango River (4th longest river system in Africa)
    • it is a "delta" because the river splits into different channels as it empties into the basin
    • the water levels are seasonal
    • the Okavango Delta is an important home to wildlife, especially elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards

butte[edit | edit source]

cape[edit | edit source]

  • a "headland", "promontory" or large body of land that extends into a larger water body, usually an ocean or a sea
    • "headland" is a "coastal landform," usually with a high point and cliffs
    • "promontory" is a raised land body that extends into lower land or water
      • promontories are often used a defensive positions for forts, castles and defensive positions
      • a promontory in water is a peninsula
  • Click EXPAND for a list of important capes:

  • Cape Canaveral - Florida
  • Cape Cod - Massachusetts
  • Cape Discord - Greenland
  • Cape of Good Hope - South Africa
  • Cape Horn - Chile
    • southernmost headland, or tip of land, on Hornos Island, one of the Hermite Islands, the southernmost of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the southern tip of South America
    • northern boundary of the Drake Passage
  • Cape Kidnappers - New Zealand
  • Cape Three Forks - Morocco
  • Cape Vert - Senegal; the westernmost point of Africa

canyon[edit | edit source]

  • a "cleft" or opening with steep cliff walls on either side
  • canyons are usually formed by erosion from rivers
    • but can also be caused by "weathering" (see definition under geology entry)
  • also called a gorge
The Subway, a slot canyon within the Kolob Terrace section
  • narrows or slot canyon is a very narrow canyon and can extend for some distance
    • see "The Subway," a slot canyon in Zion National Park, Utah

continent[edit | edit source]

  • largest continuous unit of a land form or land mass
  • * except for Europe (and, thus Asia), continents have defined perimeters
  • continents are defined by extent, separation, tectonic plates (some have multiple plates)
  • click on EXPAND to see list of Continents

  • ordered by size, largest to smallest:
  • Asia
      • may also include Europe, which would be "Eurasia"
  • Africa
  • North America
  • South America
  • Antarctica
  • Europe
  • Australia

  • disputed continents
  • Australia
    • sometimes considered world's largest island
  • Europe
    • Europe is technically not a continent, but if so, neither is Asia
      • considered together, Europe + Asia = "Eurasia"
    • the concept of Europe as a continent is traditional and cultural, but still valid geographically
  • click EXPAND for more on definition of Europe as a continent

  • to the ancient Greeks, Europe was the "Land of the West"
  • and Asia was the "Land of the East:
  • and Africa was called "Libya"
  • as a continent, Europe is divided from Asia by
    • Ural Mountains (in Russia) and
    • Bosporus Strait (at Constantinople, Turkey)

drain[edit | edit source]

  • a lowland area that collects water that has no outflows to the ocean
  • technically an "Endorheic basin"
  • the "sink" is the actual low point in which water is collected

Endorheic v. exorheic[edit | edit source]

  • describes lakes, lowlands or regions in which water either
    • has no outflow = endorheic
    • has an outflow = exorheic
  • these terms can describe regions, lakes, swamps
  • basins that have subsurface (underground) water flow that leads to an ocean are called "cryptorheic basins"

gorge[edit | edit source]

  • another name for canyon (see above)

hill[edit | edit source]

island[edit | edit source]

isthmus[edit | edit source]

The sandy isthmus or tombolo "The Neck" connecting North and South Bruny Island in Tasmania, Australia
  • land-form that has large water bodies on opposite sides
  • and connects two larger land forms
  • also called a "land bridge"
    • plural form = "isthmuses"
  • examples:
    • Karelian Isthmus << connects Russia to Finland
    • Kra Isthmus << connects southeast Asia to the Malay peninsula
    • Panama << connects North and South Americas
    • Sinai << connects northeast Africa to southwest Asia
  • canals are usually built across isthmuses
    • Panama Canal
    • Corinth Canal
    • Suez Canal

land-bridge[edit | edit source]

  • a small or especially narrow isthmus

mountain[edit | edit source]

nunatak[edit | edit source]

Starr Nunatak, on the coast of Victoria Land, Antarctica
  • a landform protruding above a glacier

peninsula[edit | edit source]

plateau[edit | edit source]

prairie[edit | edit source]

  • large flat ecological area dominated by grasses
  • and with a temperate (moderate) climate and mild rainfall
  • may have trees but does not have forests

range[edit | edit source]

  • as in "mountain range"
  • a series of connected or inter-connected mountains
  • that are geologically similar

steppe[edit | edit source]

  • large flat grasslands
  • generally dry and at higher elevations than prairies

tectonic plates[edit | edit source]

  • large geological "plates" of rock that underly the surface of the earth
  • plates move over time (long periods)
  • non-volcanic mountain ranges are the result of crashing plates
    • as one plate will force itself under or over the other, thus causing the earth to rise into mountains
      • such as the Himalaya Mountains

trench[edit | edit source]

  • trench
    • a large, narrow (as compared to length) depression in the ground or underwater
    • trenches are caused by erosion, glaciers, or movement of tectonic plates
    • trenches can be on land or under water, such as the Mariana trench, deepest
    • smaller forms of a trench are called a "gully" or a "ditch"
    • larger trenches caused by tectonic plate movements are also called "rift valleys"
  • volcano

volcano[edit | edit source]

  • formed when magma from below breaks through the earth's crust
    • when that happens, lava, ash, and gasses escape from the earth's hot mantle
    • as lava accumulates and hardens, volcanic mountains, below and above the seas form
  • two principle of volcanos:
    • conical volcano
      • the most common type of volcano with high walls and a cone at the top
      • built up by layers (or "strata") of lava and other airborne, solid "fragments" of ash and cinders
      • in a conical volcano the lava flow hardens before spreading far
        • stratovolcano (or composite volcano from layers of lava flows), spatter cone (from a lava fountain)
        • see also cinder, rootless, and tuff cones: Volcanic cone - Wikipedia
    • shield volcanos
      • the lava flows outward and the volcano does not build up like a conical volcano
  • there are various types of volcanic eruptions
  • the earth's crust itself is originally built of lava
    • = "igneous rock"
      • "igeneous" is from ignis, Latin for "fire"
      • other rock types:
        • sedimentary = layered minerals and organic material
        • metamorphic = new rock types formed by pressure and heat of existing rocks
  • breaks in the earth's crust are caused by
    World distribution of mid-oceanic ridges
    • shifts in and colliding of tectonic plates
    • thus places where the plates are either separating for converging, such as:
      • separating = mid-oceanic ridges, which surround several of the continents, including:
        • Mid-Atlantic ridge from Greenland to southern Atlantic, in the center of the Atlantic Ocean
        • Pacific ridges, which extend from Baha California south and east, below Australia and connecting with the mid-Oceanic ridges of the Indian Ocean
      • converging (crashing into one another), such as:
        • the "Ring of Fire"
    • weakening or thinning of the crust, such as:
      • East African Rift
      • Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field in British Columbia, Canada
      • Rio Grande Rift: from below the Colorado Plateau to the northern border of Mexico, covering most of New Mexico and parts of Arizona
        • note: the eastern edge of the Rio Grande Rift forms the North-South vertical portion of the New Mexico-Texas natural border
  • Sources:
  • [Landform (National Geographic)]

Major world regions[edit | edit source]

Statistical regions as defined by the UNSD. Antarctica is not shown.
  • major regions
    • there are many regions and sub-regions and different sources will define these regions differently
    • world geography is broadly divided or categorized into:
  • 6 or 7 continents
  • 12 regions

Physiographic regions[edit | edit source]

Geoscheme regions[edit | edit source]

  • classification of regions per continent
    • the United Nations uses "geoscheme" system to define major world regions
  • see United_Nations_geoscheme (wikipedia)
    • below are listed the geoscheme regions per continent

Americas[edit | edit source]

  • North America
  • Central America
  • South America
  • Caribbean

Asia[edit | edit source]

  • Central Asia (Russian Asia, Mongolia)
  • East Asia (China, Korea, Japan)
  • South Asia (Indian sub-continent)
  • Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Malyasia, Indonesia, etc.)
  • West Asia (Middle East)
    • Asia Minor, Anatolia

Africa[edit | edit source]

  • East or Eastern Africa
    • Horn of Africa = the peninsula of east Africa between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean
      • = the easternmost point of Africa
  • North or Northern Africa
  • South or Southern Africa (not the nation "South Africa")
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • West or Western Africa

Australia[edit | edit source]

Europe[edit | edit source]

  • Eastern Europe
  • Western Europe
  • Scandinavia
  • Europe is also classified according to
    • ethnicity
    • language
    • religion

Other major regions terminology[edit | edit source]

  • Eurasia
  • Mediterranean
  • Latin America

World oceanic regions[edit | edit source]

  • Mediterranean
  • Arabian Sea
  • Indian Ocean
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Caribbean Sea
  • China Sea
  • North Sea
  • Macaronesia (Atlantic)

Oceania[edit | edit source]

Oceania UN Geoscheme Regions
  • Oceania
    • Pacific region in general, divided into
  • Australasia
  • Melanesia
  • Micronesia
  • Polynesia

Click EXPAND for a list of independent nations of Oceana

  • Australia
  • East Timor
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • Indonesia
    • Only Papua, or Indonesian New Guinea is part of Oceania, whereas the rest of Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu
  • Also:
    • Cook Islands and Niue are "associated states" with New Zealand

Macaronesia[edit | edit source]

  • island region in Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal and West Africa
    • volcanic islands
  • Macaronesia consists of:
  • Azores islands
    • Portuguese territories
  • Canary Islands
    • Portuguese territories
  • Madeira islands
    • Spanish territories
  • Cape Verde
    • officially "Republic of Cabo Verde"
      • it won independence from Portugal in 1975
      • a democratic republic
    • named for Cape Vert in Senegal, which is directly east of Cape Verde
    • consists of 10 volcanic islands

Climate[edit | edit source]

Climate Zones[edit | edit source]

see also : [Climate (Geography)]

  • Roaring Forties
Map prevailing winds on earth (wiki)
250pxClipperRoute Clipper Route (wiki)
    • westerly winds that cross from west to east along the southern hemisphere 40-50th parallels
    • the Roaring Forties aided age of sail shipping routes from south of Africa to Australia
    • and from Australia/New Zealand to the southern tip of South America

Geology & geological processes[edit | edit source]

Land forms processes[edit | edit source]

  • erosion = the transport or movement of rocks and soil by water or wind
    • erosion spreads silt (important for farming), forms canyons, coastlines, and other surface features
    • types or causes of erosion:
      • rivers
      • rain/snow fall
      • tides/waves
      • atmospheric (wind, gasses)
      • glaciers
  • see [Erosion (wiki)]
  • weathering = breakdown of rocks and soil from contact with water, the atmosphere, and organisms
    • weathering is not erosion, as weathering does not include transit of rocks and soil

Hydrology cycle[edit | edit source]

Water forms processes[edit | edit source]

  • waves = oscillations
    • waves in water are technically "wind waves"
    • water waves are caused by winds
  • underwater waves
    • ocean floor topography causes underwater waves
    • highest underwater waves occur in the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines
      • caused by two parallel underwater ridges
      • some underwater waves there can be as high as 1,600 feet
  • see " Geoffrey Giller, “Long a Mystery, How 500-Meter-High Undersea Waves Form Is Revealed.” ©2014 by Scientific American

[edit | edit source]

Human populations[edit | edit source]

Language groups[edit | edit source]

Contemporary distribution (2005 map) of the world's major language families (in some cases geographic groups of families). This map includes only primary families i.e. branches are excluded. For greater detail, see Distribution of languages on Earth.
  • there are 15 major language families in the world
    • each of these major groups have sub-groups of distinct languages
    • there are 7,111 languages in the world
Principal language families of the world (and in some cases geographic groups of families). For greater detail, see Distribution of languages in the world.