Glossary of geography terms
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Geographical terms are words or phrases which describe and identify natural phenomena, geographical locations, spatial dimension and natural resources. Geographical terms are classified according to their functions, such as description, explanation, analysing, evaluating and integrating.
This is a list of geographical terms in alphabetical order.
- Absolute humidity: The mass of water vapor in the atmosphere per unit of volume of space. (IIP 2008)
- Absolute location: The location of a point on the Earth's surface that can be expressed by a grid reference such as latitude and longitude. (OERI 1996)
- Accessibility resource: A naturally occurring landscape feature that facilitates interaction between places. (IIP 2008)
- Accessibility: A locational characteristic that permits a place to be reached by the efforts of those at other places. (IIP 2008)
- Acid rain: Rain that has become more acidic than normal (a pH below 5.0) as certain oxides present as airborne pollutants are absorbed by the water droplets. The term is often applied generically to all acidic precipitation. (IIP 2008)
- Active volcano: A volcano that is currently erupting, or has erupted during recorded history. (USGS 2010)
- Aerosol: Fine liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Aerosols resulting from volcanic eruptions are tiny droplets of sulfuric acid—sulfur dioxide that has picked up oxygen and water. (USGS 2010)
- Air mass: A very large body of atmosphere defined by essentially similar horizontal air temperatures. Moisture conditions are also usually similar throughout the mass. (IIP 2008)
- Alluvia: Clay, silt, gravel, or similar detrital material deposited by running water. (IIP 2008)
- Alluvial soils: Soils deposited through the action of moving water. These soils lack horizons and are usually highly fertile. (IIP 2008)
- Altitude: Height of an object in the atmosphere above sea level. (OERI 1996)
- Anthracite: A hard coal containing little volatile matter. (IIP 2008)
- Archipelago: A collection of islands in a sea.
- Arête: A sharp, narrow mountain ridge. It often results from the erosive activity of alpine glaciers flowing in adjacent valleys. (IIP 2008)
- Arroyo: A deep gully cut by a stream that flows only part of the year; a dry gulch. A term normally used only in desert areas. (IIP 2008)
- Ash: Fragments less than (about 1/8 inch) in diameter of lava or rock blasted into the air by volcanic explosions. (USGS 2010)
- Atlantic Seaboard fall line: The physiographic border between the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain regions. The name derives from the river rapids and falls that occur as the water flows from the hard rocks of the higher piedmont onto the softer rocks of the coastal plain. (IIP 2008)
- Atlas: A bound collection of maps. (OERI 1996)
- Atmosphere: The mixture of gases, aerosols, solid particles, and water vapor that envelops the Earth. (USGS 2010)
- Badlands: Very irregular topography resulting from wind and water erosion of sedimentary rock. (IIP 2008)
- Barrier ridge: Unnavigable steep terrain isolating one terrain from another.
- Base level: The lowest level to which a stream can erode its bed. The ultimate base level of all streams is, of course, the sea. (IIP 2008)
- Batholith: A very large body of igneous rock, usually granite, which has been exposed by erosion of the overlying rock. (IIP 2008)
- Bay: Part of a sea or lake within a wide or narrow indentation of the shoreline.
- Beach: A landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake, or river with a loose surface of sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, shells, stones or coral.
- Bedrock: The solid rock that underlies all soil or other loose material; the rock material that breaks down eventually to form soil. (IIP 2008)
- Biological diversity: A concept recognising the variety of life forms in an area of the Earth and the ecological interdependence of these life forms. (IIP 2008)
- Biosphere: The realm of all living things. (USGS 2010)
- Biota: The animal and plant life of a region considered as a total ecological entity. (IIP 2008)
- Bituminous: A soft coal that, when heated, yields considerable volatile matter. (IIP 2008)
- Boundary: A line indicating the limit of a country, state, or other political jurisdiction or geographical entity. (OERI 1996)
- Break-in-bulk point: Commonly, a transfer point on a transport route where the mode of transport (or type of carrier) changes and where large-volume shipments are reduced in size. For example, goods may be unloaded from a ship and transferred to trucks at an ocean port. (IIP 2008)
- Butte: An isolated hill or mountain with steep or precipitous sides, usually having a smaller summit area than a mesa. (IIP 2008)
- Cape: A large headland or promontory extending into a body of water, usually the sea.
- Canal: An artificial navigation channel.
- Caprock: A stratum of erosion-resistant sedimentary rock (usually limestone) found in arid areas. Caprock forms the top layer of most mesas and buttes. (IIP 2008)
- Carrying capacity: The number of people that an area can support given the quality of the natural environment and the level of technology of the population. (IIP 2008)
- Cartographer: A person who draws or makes maps or charts. (OERI 1996)
- CBD: The central business district of an urban area, typically containing a concentration of office and retail activities. (IIP 2008)
- Census designated place: A concentration of population identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes.
- Chaparral: A dense, impenetrable thicket of shrubs or dwarf trees. (IIP 2008)
- Chinook: A warm, dry wind experienced along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. Most common in winter and spring, it can result in a rise in temperature of 20 °C (35 to 40 °F) in a quarter of an hour. (IIP 2008)
- Cinder cone: A steep-sided volcano formed by the explosive eruption of cinders that form around a vent. Cinders are lava fragments about 1 centimeter (about ½ inch) in diameter. (USGS 2010)
- Climax vegetation: The vegetation that would exist in an area if growth had proceeded undisturbed for an extended period. This would be the "final" collection of plant types that presumably would remain forever, or until the stable conditions were somehow disturbed. (IIP 2008)
- Compass rose: A figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the four directions — North, East, South, and West—and their intermediate points
- Confluence: The place at which two or more streams flow together to form one larger stream. (IIP 2008)
- Coniferous: Bearing cones; from the conifer family. (IIP 2008)
- Continent: One of the large, continuous areas of the Earth into which the land surface is divided. (OERI 1996)
- Continental climate: The type of climate found in the interior of the major continents in the middle, or temperate, latitudes. The climate is characterized by a great seasonal variation in temperatures, four distinct seasons, and a relatively small annual precipitation. (IIP 2008)
- Continental divide: The line of high ground that separates the oceanic drainage basins of a continent; the river systems of a continent on opposite sides of a continental divide flow toward different oceans. (IIP 2008)
- Continentality: where something is located on a continent.
- Contour lines: Lines marked on topographic maps to show the shape and elevation of the land. They connect points of equal elevation. (USGS 2010)
- Conurbation: An extensive urban area formed when two or more cities, originally separate, coalesce to form a continuous metropolitan region. (IIP 2008)
- Core area: The portion of a country that contains its economic, political, intellectual, and cultural focus. It is often the center of creativity and change (see Hearth). (IIP 2008)
- Coulee: A dry canyon eroded by Pleistocene floods that cut into the lava beds of the Columbia Plateau in the western United States. (IIP 2008)
- Crater: The circular depression containing a volcanic vent. (USGS 2010)
- Crop-lien system: A farm financing scheme whereby money is loaned at the beginning of a growing season to pay for farming operations, with the subsequent harvest used as collateral for the loan. (IIP 2008)
- Crust: The Earth's outermost layer. (USGS 2010)
- Cryosphere: The ice and snow on the Earth's surface, such as glaciers; sea, lake, and river ice; snow; and permafrost. (USGS 2010)
- Cryoturbation (frost churning) is the mixing of materials from various horizons of the soil down to the bedrock due to freezing and thawing.
- Cuesta: A long low ridge with a steep scarp slope and gentle backslope (dip slope).
- Culture: The accumulated habits, attitudes, and beliefs of a group of people that define for them their general behavior and way of life; the total set of learned activities of a people. (IIP 2008)
- Culture hearth: The area from which the culture of a group diffused (see Hearth). (IIP 2008)
- De facto segregation: The spatial and social separation of populations that occurs without legal sanction. (IIP 2008)
- De jure segregation: The spatial and social separation of populations that occurs because of legal measures. (IIP 2008)
- Deciduous forest: Forests in which the trees lose their leaves each year. (IIP 2008)
- Degree: A unit of angular measure: A circle is divided into 360 degrees, represented by the º symbol. Degrees are used to divide the roughly spherical shape of the Earth for geographic and cartographic purposes. (OERI 1996)
- Degree day: Deviation of one-degree temperature for one day from an arbitrary standard, usually the long-term average temperature for a place. (IIP 2008)
- Delta: A delta is a land form at the mouth of a river where the main stream splits up into several distributaries. It is formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river. Template:Hary
- Demography: The systematic analysis of population. (IIP 2008)
- Discriminatory shipping rates: A transportation charge levied in a manner that is inequitable to some shippers, primarily because of those shippers' location. (IIP 2008)
- Dome: A steep-sided mound that forms when very viscous lava is extruded from a volcanic vent. (USGS 2010) An uplifted area of sedimentary rocks with a downward dip in all directions; often caused by molten rock material pushing upward from below. The sediments have often eroded away, exposing the rocks that resulted when the molten material cooled. (IIP 2008)
- Dormant volcano: An active volcano that is in repose (quiescence) but is expected to erupt in the future. (USGS 2010)
- Draw (terrain): A terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges or spurs with low ground in between them.
- Dry farming: A type of farming practiced in semi-arid or dry grassland areas without irrigation using such approaches as fallowing, maintaining a finely broken surface, and growing drought-tolerant crops. (IIP 2008)
- Economies of agglomeration: The economic advantages that accrue to an activity by locating close to other activities; benefits that follow from complementarity or shared public services. (IIP 2008)
- Elevation: The height of a point on the Earth's surface with respect to sea level. (OERI 1996)
- Emergent coastline: A shoreline resulting from a rise in land surface elevation relative to sea level. (IIP 2008)
- Enclave: A tract or territory enclosed within another state, country or other political entity. (IIP 2008)
- Equator: An imaginary circle around the Earth halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole; the largest circumference of the Earth. (OERI 1996)
- Erratic: A boulder that has been carried from its source by a glacier and deposited as the glacier melted. Thus, the boulder is often of a different rock type from surrounding types. (IIP 2008)
- Escarpment: A long cliff or steep slope separating two comparatively level or more gently sloping surfaces and resulting from erosion or faulting. (IIP 2008)
- Estuary: The broad lower course of a river that is encroached on by the sea and affected by the tides. (IIP 2008)
- Evapotranspiration: The water lost from an area through the combined effects of evaporation from the ground surface and transpiration from the vegetation. (IIP 2008)
- Exotic stream: A stream found in an area that is too dry to have spawned such a flow. The flow originates in some moister section. (IIP 2008)
- Extinct volcano: A volcano that is not expected to erupt again. (USGS 2010)
- Exurb: A region or district that lies outside a city and usually beyond its suburbs. (IIP 2008)
- Fall line: A geomorphologic unconformity between an upland region of relatively hard crystalline basement rock and a coastal plain of softer sedimentary rock.
- Fallow: Agricultural land that is plowed or tilled but left unseeded during a growing season. Fallowing is usually done to conserve moisture. (IIP 2008)
- Fault: A fracture in the Earth's crust accompanied by a displacement of one side of the fracture. (IIP 2008)
- Fault-block mountain: A mountain mass created by either the uplift of land between faults or the subsidence of land outside the faults. (IIP 2008)
- Fault zone: A fracture in the Earth's crust along which movement has occurred. The movement may be in any direction and involve material on either or both sides of the fracture. A "fault zone" is an area of numerous fractures. (IIP 2008)
- Federation: A form of government in which powers and functions are divided between a central government and a number of political subdivisions that have a significant degree of political autonomy. (IIP 2008)
- Feral animal: A wild or untamed animal, especially one having reverted to such a state from domestication. (IIP 2008)
- Fish ladder: A series of shallow steps down which water is allowed to flow; designed to permit salmon to circumvent artificial barriers such as power dams as the salmon swim upstream to spawn. (IIP 2008)
- Fjord: A long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.
- Focality: The characteristic of a place that follows from its interconnections with more than one other place. When interaction within a region comes together at a place (i.e., when the movement focuses on that location), the place is said to possess "focality".
- Functional diversity: The characteristic of a place where a variety of different activities (economic, political, or social, for example) occurs; most often associated with urban places. (IIP 2008)
- Geomorphology: The study of the arrangement and form of the Earth's crust and of the relationship between these physical features and the geologic structures beneath. (IIP 2008)
- Geosphere: The nonliving parts of the Earth: the lithosphere, the atmosphere, the cryosphere, and the hydrosphere. (USGS 2010)
- Ghetto: Originally, the section of a European city to which Jews were restricted. Today, this is commonly defined as a section of a city occupied by members of a minority group who live there because of social restrictions on their residential choice. (IIP 2008)
- Glacial till: The mass of rocks and finely ground material carried by a glacier, then deposited when the ice melted. This creates an unstratified material of varying composition. (IIP 2008)
- Glaciation: Having been covered with a glacier or subject to glacial epochs. (IIP 2008)
- Glacier: A thick mass of ice resulting from compacted snow that forms when more snow accumulates than melts annually. (USGS 2010)
- Globe: A true-to-scale map of the Earth that duplicates its round shape and correctly represents areas, relative size, and shape of physical features, distances, and directions. (OERI 1996)
- Great circle route: A route which follows a line defined by the intersection of the Earth's surface with an imaginary plane passing through the Earth's center. It is the shortest route between two places on the Earth's surface.(IIP 2008)
- Grid: A pattern of lines on a chart or map, such as those representing latitude and longitude, which helps determine absolute location. (OERI 1996)
- Growing season: The period from the average date of the last frost (in the United States, this occurs in the spring) to the first frost in the fall. (IIP 2008)
- Groyne: A rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore (in coastal engineering) or from a bank (in rivers) that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment.
- Gulf: A large area of water that lies within a curved coastline: similar to a bay but usually larger.
- Harmonic tremor: Continuous rhythmic earthquakes in the Earth's upper lithosphere that can be detected by seismographs. Harmonic tremors often precede or accompany volcanic eruptions. (USGS 2010)
- Hazardous Waste: Unwanted by-products remaining in the environment and posing an immediate potential hazard to human life. (IIP 2008)
- Hearth: The source area of any innovation. The source area from which an idea, crop, artifact, or good is diffused to other areas. (IIP 2008)
- Heavy industry: Manufacturing activities engaged in the conversion of large volumes of raw materials and partially processed materials into products of higher value; hallmarks of this form of industry are considerable capital investment in large machinery, heavy energy consumption, and final products of relatively low value per unit weight (see Light Industry). (IIP 2008)
- Hemisphere: Half of the Earth, usually conceived as resulting from the division of the globe into two equal parts of either north and south or east and west. (OERI 1996)
- Hinterland: The area tributary to a place and linked to that place through lines of exchange, or interaction. (IIP 2008)
- Horizon: A distinct layer of soil encountered in vertical section. (IIP 2008)
- Hot spot: An area in the middle of a lithospheric plate where magma rises from the mantle and erupts at the Earth's surface. Volcanoes sometimes occur above a hot spot. (USGS 2010)
- Humus: Partially decomposed organic soil material. (IIP 2008)
- Hydrography: The study of the surface waters of the Earth. (IIP 2008)
- Hydrosphere: The water that covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface as oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. The hydrosphere also includes ground water, water that circulates below the Earth's surface in the upper part of the lithosphere. (USGS 2010)
- Ice age: A time of widespread glaciation (see Pleistocene). (IIP 2008)
- Igneous rock: Rock formed when molten (melted) materials harden. (IIP 2008)
- Indigo: A plant that yields a blue vat dye. (IIP 2008)
- Inertia Costs of Location: Costs borne by an activity because it remains located at its original site, even though the distributions of supply and demand have changed. (IIP 2008)
- Insular: Either of an island, or suggestive of the isolated condition of an island. (IIP 2008)
- International Date Line: A line of longitude generally 180 degrees east and west of the prime meridian. The date is one day earlier to the east of the line. (OERI 1996)
- Intervening Opportunity: The existence of a closer, less expensive opportunity for obtaining a good or service, or for a migration destination. Such opportunities lessen the attractiveness of more distant places. (IIP 2008)
- Intracoastal Waterway System: A U.S. waterway channel, maintained through dredging and sheltered for the most part by a series of linear offshore islands, that extends from New York City to Florida's southern tip and from Brownsville, Texas, to the eastern end of Florida's panhandle. (IIP 2008)
- Island: Any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water.
- Isohyet: A line on a map connecting points that receive equal precipitation. (IIP 2008)
- Jurisdiction: The right and power to apply the law; the territorial range of hills between mountains. (IIP 2008)
- Jhum cultivation: Also called "slash-and-burn" or "jhoom cultivation"; clear-cutting and/or setting fire to an area of land so it can be used for farm cultivation.
- Jungle: An area covered with dense vegetation dominated by trees.
- Karst: An area possessing surface topography resulting from the underground solution of subsurface limestone or dolomite. (IIP 2008)
- Kudzu: A vine, native to China and Japan but imported into the United States; originally planted for decoration, for forage, or as a ground cover to control erosion. It now grows wild in many parts of the southeastern United States. (IIP 2008)
- Lacustrine plain: A nearly level land area that was formed as a lakebed. (IIP 2008)
- Lagoon: A small area of water connected to the ocean blockaded by an island
- Lateral blast: A sideways-directed explosion from the side or summit of a volcano. (USGS 2010)
- Latitude: A measure of distance north or south of the equator. One degree of latitude equals approximately 110 kilometers (68 mi). (IIP 2008) Imaginary lines that cross the surface of the Earth parallel to the Equator, measuring how far north or south of the Equator a place is located. (OERI 1996)
- Lava: The term used for magma once it has erupted onto the Earth's surface. (USGS 2010)
- Leaching: A process of soil nutrient removal through the erosive movement and chemical action of water. (IIP 2008)
- Leeward: The side of a land mass sheltered from the wind—the opposite of windward. (USGS 2010)
- Legend: A key to what the symbols or pictures in a map mean. (OERI 1996)
- Legume: A plant, such as the soybean, that bears nitrogen-fixing bacteria on its roots, and thereby increases soil nitrogen content. (IIP 2008)
- LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country.
- Life-cycle stage: A period of uneven length in which the relative dependence of an individual on others helps define a complex of basic social relations that remains relatively consistent throughout the period. (IIP 2008)
- Light industry: Manufacturing activities that use moderate amounts of partially processed materials to produce items of relatively high value per unit weight (see Heavy Industry). (IIP 2008)
- Lignite: A low-grade brownish coal of relatively poor heat-generating capacity. (IIP 2008)
- Lithosphere: The Earth's hard, outermost shell. It comprises the crust and the upper part of the mantle. It is divided into a mosaic of 16 major slabs, or plates. (USGS 2010)
- Lithospheric plates: A series of rigid slabs (16 major ones at present) that make up the Earth's outer shell. These plates float on top of a softer, more plastic layer in the Earth's mantle. (Also called tectonic plates.) (USGS 2010)
- Loess: A soil made up of small particles that were transported by the wind to their present location. (IIP 2008)
- Longitude: A measure of distance east and west of a line drawn between the North and South Poles and passing through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England. (IIP 2008): Imaginary lines that cross the surface of the Earth, running from north to south, measuring how far east or west of the prime meridian a place is located. (OERI 1996)
- Magma: Molten rock containing liquids, crystals, and dissolved gases that forms within the upper part of the Earth's mantle and crust. When erupted onto the Earth's surface, it is called lava. (USGS 2010)
- Mantle: A zone in the Earth's interior between the crust and the core that is 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi) thick. (The lithosphere is composed of the topmost 65-70 kilometers (39–42 miles) of the mantle and the crust.) (USGS 2010)
- Map: A picture of a place that is usually drawn to scale on a flat surface. (OERI 1996)
- Maritime climate: A climate strongly influenced by an oceanic environment, found on islands and the windward shores of continents. It is characterized by small daily and yearly temperature ranges and high relative humidity. (IIP 2008)
- MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country.
- Mediterranean climate: A climate characterized by moist, mild winters and hot, dry summers. (IIP 2008)
- Mesa: An isolated, relatively flat-topped natural elevation, usually more extensive than a butte and less extensive than a plateau. (IIP 2008)
- Mesquite: A spiny deep-rooted leguminous tree or shrub that forms extensive thickets in the southwestern United States. (IIP 2008)
- Metamorphic Rock: Rock that has been physically altered by heat and/or pressure. (IIP 2008)
- Metes and bounds: A system of land survey that defines land parcels according to visible natural landscape features and distance. The resultant field pattern is usually very irregular in shape. (IIP 2008)
- Metropolitan coalescence: The merging of the urbanized areas of separate metropolitan regions; Megalopolis is an example of this process. (IIP 2008)
- Monadnock: An isolated hill or mountain of resistant rock rising above an eroded lowland. (IIP 2008)
- Moraine: The rocks and soil carried and deposited by a glacier. An "end moraine," either a ridge or low hill running perpendicular to the direction of ice movement, forms at the end of a glacier when the ice is melting. (IIP 2008)
- Mudflow: A flowing mixture of water and debris (intermediate between a volcanic avalanche and a water flood) that forms on the slopes of a volcano. Sometimes called a debris flow or lahar, a term from Indonesia where volcanic mudflows are a major hazard. (USGS 2010)
- Multilingual: The ability to use more than one language when speaking or writing (see Bilingual). This term often refers to the presence of more than two populations of significant size within a single political unit, each group speaking a different language as their primary language. (IIP 2008)
- Municipal waste: Unwanted by-products of modern life generated by people living in an urban area. (IIP 2008)
- New England: The northeastern United States. (IIP 2008)
- Nodal Region: A region characterized by a set of places connected to another place by lines of communication or movement. (IIP 2008)
- Nuclear family: A family of your closer relatives; mom, dad, brother(s), sister(s), and possibly your aunt(s), uncle(s), and cousin(s). (IIP 2008)
- Ocean: The salt water surrounding the great land masses, and divided by the land masses into several distinct portions, each of which is called an ocean. (OERI 1996)
- Open range: A cattle- or sheep-ranching area characterized by a general absence of fences. (IIP 2008)
- Orographic rainfall: Precipitation that results when moist air is lifted over a topographic barrier such as a mountain range. (IIP 2008)
- Outwash: Rocky and sandy surface material deposited by melted water that flowed from a glacier. (IIP 2008)
- Overburden: Material covering a mineral seam or bed that must be removed before the mineral can be removed in strip mining. (IIP 2008)
- Palisades: A line of bold cliffs. (IIP 2008)
- Panhandle: A narrow projection of a larger territory (as a state). (IIP 2008)
- Permafrost: A permanently frozen layer of soil. (IIP 2008); permanently frozen ground at high latitude and high elevation. (USGS 2010)
- Physiographic region: A portion of the Earth's surface with a common topography and common morphology. (IIP 2008)
- Physiography: Physical geography. (IIP 2008)
- Piedmont: Lying or formed at the base of mountains; in the United States, an area in the southern states at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. (IIP 2008)
- Plate Tectonics: Geologic theory that the bending (folding) and breaking (faulting) of the solid surface of the earth results from the slow movement of large sections (plates) of that surface. (IIP 2008)
- Platted land: Land that has been divided into surveyed lots. (IIP 2008)
- Pleistocene: The period the last one million years in geologic history when ice sheets covered large sections of the Earth's land surface not now covered by glaciers. (IIP 2008)
- Plural society: A situation in which two or more culture groups occupy the same territory but maintain their separate cultural identities. (IIP 2008)
- Polynodal: Many-centered. (IIP 2008)
- Populated place: place or area with clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent human population (city, settlement, town, or village) referenced with geographic coordinates. (USGS)
- Post-industrial: An economy that gains its basic character from economic activities developed primarily after manufacturing grew to predominance. Most notable would be quaternary economic patterns. (IIP 2008)
- Precambrian rock: The oldest rocks, generally more than 600 million years old. (IIP 2008)
- Presidio: A military post (Spanish). (IIP 2008)
- Prevailing winds: The direction from which winds most frequently blow at a specific geographic location. (USGS 2010)
- Primary product: A product that is important as a raw material in developed economies; a product consumed in its primary (i.e., unprocessed) state (see Staple Product). (IIP 2008)
- Primary sector: That portion of a region's economy devoted to the extraction of basic materials (e.g., mining, lumbering, agriculture). (IIP 2008)
- Prime Meridian: An imaginary line running from north to south through Greenwich, England, used as the reference point for longitude. (OERI 1996)
- Pueblo: A type of Indian village constructed by some tribes in the southwestern United States. A large community dwelling, divided into many rooms, up to five stories high, and usually made of adobe. This is also a Spanish word for town or village. (IIP 2008)
- Quaternary sector: That portion of a region's economy devoted to informational and idea-generating activities (e.g., basic research, universities and colleges, and news media). (IIP 2008)
- Rail gauge: The distance between the two rails of a railroad. (IIP 2008)
- Rainshadow: An area of diminished precipitation on the lee (downwind) side of a mountain or mountain range. (IIP 2008)
- Region: An area having some characteristic or characteristics that distinguish it from other areas. A territory that is of interest to people, for which one or more distinctive traits are used as the basis for its identity. (IIP 2008)
- Resource: Anything that is both naturally occurring and of use to humans. (IIP 2008)
- Riparian rights: The rights of water use possessed by a person owning land containing or bordering a watercourse or lake. (IIP 2008)
- Ria: A drowned river valley that remains open to the sea.
- Riverine: Located on or inhabiting the banks or the area near a river or lake. (IIP 2008)
- Scale: The relationship between a linear measurement on a map and the distance it represents on the Earth's surface. (OERI 1996)
- Scarp: Also "escarpment." A steep cliff or steep slope, formed either because of faulting or by the erosion of inclined rock strata. (IIP 2008)
- Scots-Irish: The North American descendants of Protestants from Scotland who migrated to Northern Ireland in the 17th century. (IIP 2008)
- Sea level: The ocean surface. (OERI 1996)
- Second home: A seasonally occupied dwelling that is not the primary residence of the owner. Such residences are usually found in areas with substantial opportunities for recreation or tourist activity. (IIP 2008)
- Secondary sector: That portion of a region's economy devoted to the processing of basic materials extracted by the primary sector. (IIP 2008)
- Sedimentary rock: Rock formed by the hardening of material deposited in some process; most commonly sandstone, shale, and limestone. (IIP 2008)
- Seismograph: A scientific instrument that detects and records vibrations (seismic waves) produced by earthquakes. (USGS 2010)
- Settlement : A place where people live and form communities.
- Sharecropping: A form of agricultural tenancy in which the tenant pays for use of the land with a predetermined share of his crop rather than by paying rent in cash. (IIP 2008)
- Shield: A broad area of very old rocks above sea level that is usually characterized by thin, poor soils and low population densities. (IIP 2008)
- Shield volcano: A volcano that resembles an inverted warrior's shield. It has long gentle slopes produced by multiple eruptions of fluid lava flows. (USGS 2010)
- Silage: Fodder (livestock feed) prepared by storing and fermenting green forage plants in a silo. (IIP 2008)
- Sinkhole: Crater formed when the roof of a cavern collapses; usually found in areas of limestone rock. (IIP 2008)
- Site: Features of a place related to the immediate environment on which the place is located (e.g., terrain, soil, subsurface, geology, ground water). (IIP 2008)
- Situation: Features of a place related to its location relative to other places (e.g., accessibility, hinterland quality). (IIP 2008)
- Smog: Mixture of particulate matter and chemical pollutants in the lower atmosphere, usually over urban areas. (IIP 2008)
- Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area or SMSA: A statistical unit of one or more counties that focus on one or more central cities larger than a specified size, or with a total population larger than a specified size. This is a reflection of urbanization. (IIP 2008)
- Snowline: The lowest elevation at which snow remains from year to year and does not melt during the summer. (USGS 2010)
- Soluble: Capable of being dissolved; in this case, the characteristic of soil minerals that leads them to be carried away in solution by water (see Leaching). (IIP 2008)
- Space Economy: The locational pattern of economic activities and their interconnecting linkages. (IIP 2008)
- Spatial Complementarity: The occurrence of location pairing such that items demanded by one place can be supplied by another. (IIP 2008)
- Spatial interaction: Movement between locationally separate places. (IIP 2008)
- Spreading ridges: Places on the ocean floor where lithospheric plates separate and magma erupts. About 80 percent of the Earth's volcanic activity occurs on the ocean floor. (USGS 2010)
- Staple product: A product that becomes a major component in trade because it is in steady demand; thus, a product that is basic to the economies of one or more major consuming populations (see Primary Product). (IIP 2008)
- Steppe: an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. ) (USGS 2010)
- Stratovolcano: A steep-sided volcano built by lava flows and tephra deposits. (Also called composite volcano.) (USGS 2010)
- Subduction zone: The place where two lithospheric plates come together, one riding over the other. Most volcanoes on land occur parallel to and inland from the boundary between the two plates. (USGS 2010)
- Sustainable yield: The amount of a naturally self-reproducing community, such as trees or fish, which can be harvested without diminishing the ability of the community to sustain itself. (IIP 2008) Sub-Sahara is another unnecessary Eurocentric term !
- Taiga: A moist subarctic coniferous forest that begins where the tundra ends and is dominated by spruces and firs. (IIP 2008)
- Temperature inversion: An increase in temperature with height above the Earth's surface, a reversal of the normal pattern. (IIP 2008)
- Tephra: Solid material of all sizes explosively ejected from a volcano into the atmosphere. (USGS 2010)
- Territory: A specific area or portion of the Earth's surface; not to be confused with region. (IIP 2008)
- Tertiary sector: That portion of a region's economy devoted to service activities (e.g., retail and wholesale operations, transportation, insurance). (IIP 2008)
- Threshold: The minimum-sized market for an economic activity. The activity will not be successful until it can reach a population larger than this threshold size. (IIP 2008)
- Time distance: A time measure of how far apart places are (how long does it take to travel from place A to place B?). This may be contrasted with other distance metrics such as geographic distance (how far is it?) and cost-distance (how much will it cost to get there?). (IIP 2008)
- Topographic map: A map that uses contour lines to represent the three-dimensional features of a landscape on a two-dimensional surface. (USGS 2010)
- Topography: The physical features of a place; or the study and depiction of physical features, including terrain relief. (OERI 1996)
- Township and range: The rectangular system of land subdivision of much of the agriculturally settled United States west of the Appalachian Mountains; established by the Land Ordinance of 1785. (IIP 2008)
- Transferability: The extent to which a good or service can be moved from one location to another; the relative capacity for spatial interaction. (IIP 2008)
- Transhumance: The seasonal movement of people and animals in search of pasture. Commonly, winters are spent in snow-free lowlands and summers in the cooler uplands. (IIP 2008)
- Tree line: Either the latitudinal or the elevational limit of normal tree growth. Beyond this limit, closer to the poles or at higher or lower elevations, climatic conditions are too severe for such growth. (IIP 2008)
- Tree rings: Concentric rings formed annually as a tree grows. (USGS 2010)
- Tropics: Technically, the area between the Tropic of Cancer (21-1/2 N latitude) and the Tropic of Capricorn (21-1/2 S latitude), characterized by the absence of a cold season. Often used to describe any area possessing what is considered a hot, humid climate. (IIP 2008)
- Tropic of Cancer: The most northerly circle of latitude on the Earth at which the Sun may appear directly overhead at its culmination.
- Tundra: A treeless plain characteristic of the arctic and subarctic regions. (IIP 2008)
- Underemployment: A condition among a labor force such that a portion of the labor force could be eliminated without reducing the total output. Some individuals are working less than they are able or want to, or they are engaged in tasks that are not entirely productive. (IIP 2008)
- Underpopulation: Economically, a situation in which an increase in the size of the labor force will result in an increase in per worker productivity. (IIP 2008)
- Uniform region: A territory with one or more features present throughout and absent or unimportant elsewhere. (IIP 2008)
- Valley: A low area between mountains.
- Vent: The opening at the Earth's surface through which volcanic materials (lava, tephra, and gases) erupt. Vents can be at a volcano's summit or on its slopes; they can be circular (craters) or linear (fissures). (USGS 2010)
- Viscosity: Measure of the fluidity of a substance. Taffy and molasses are very viscous; water has low viscosity. (USGS 2010)
- Volcanic avalanche: A large, chaotic mass of soil, rock, and volcanic debris moving swiftly down the slopes of a volcano. Volcanic avalanches can also occur without an eruption due to an earthquake; heavy rainfall; or unstable soil, rock, and volcanic debris. (Also called debris avalanche.) (USGS 2010)
- Volcano: A vent (opening) in the Earth's surface through which magma erupts; also the landform that is constructed by eruptive material. (USGS 2010)
- Water mapping: Collection of data, representing as a map, about different aspects related to the water supplies.
- Water table: The level below the land surface at which the subsurface material is fully saturated with water. The depth of the water table reflects the minimum level to which wells must be drilled for water extraction. (IIP 2008)
- Windward: The side of a land mass facing the direction from which the wind is blowing—the opposite of leeward.
- wind winnowing: is a method of separating grain from chaff by throwing the mixture into air with a winnowing fan.
- White revolution:Increase in production of milk.
- Water Pollution: Contamination of water by chemical or biological constituents that make it unfit for use.
- weather: Weather is the state of atmosphere.
- Water: A clear transparent fluid.
- Weathering: Breaking of rocks into smaller rocks,gradually becoming soil.
- Zoning: The public regulation of land and building use to control the character of a place. (IIP 2008)
- IIP, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) (May 5, 2008), Glossary: An Outline of American Geography, Washington, DC: United States Department of State, retrieved September 30, 2010
- USGS, United States Geological Survey (USGS) (2010), USGS Geography Products - Glossary, Washington, DC: United States Geological Survey, archived from the original on May 28, 2010, retrieved September 30, 2010
- OERI, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (October 1996), "Archived: Helping Your Child Learn Geography: Glossary", Helping Your Child Learn Geography, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, archived from the original on August 23, 2003, retrieved April 16, 2013
- 17USC105, U.S. Copyright Office (December 15, 2009), "§ 105. Subject matter of copyright", U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law: Chapter 1, Title 17 of the United States Code, Circular 92, Washington, DC: U.S. Copyright Office, retrieved October 2, 2010,
United States Government works: Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.