• region
    The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the largest administrative division in China—slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Alaska.

    Photograph by Wei Ping Teoh, MyShot

    A region is an area of land that has common features. A region can be defined by natural or artificial features. Language, government, or religion can define a region, as can forests, wildlife, or climate.

    Regions, large or small, are the basic units of geography. The Middle East is considered a political, environmental, and religious region that includes parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The region is in a hot, dry climate. Although the styles of government are varied (democracy in Israel and Syria, monarchy in Saudi Arabia), almost all of them have strong ties to religion. The region is where three of the worlds major religions were founded: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

    The Amazon River region in South America is the area surrounding the Amazon River, which runs through the northern part of the continent, including Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. This region is characterized by warm temperatures, heavy rainfall, a large diversity of plant and animal species, and little human impact on the environment.

    Geographers also use regions to study prehistoric environments that no longer exist. Due to plate tectonics, or the movement of the Earths crust, geographic regions are constantly being created and destroyed over time. Paleogeography is the study of these ancient environments.

    One paleogeographic region is Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed millions of years ago, during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. The continents we know today split apart from the supercontinent of Pangaea.

    Regions of the United States

    There are many different ways to divide the United States into regions. The Library of Congress lists 16:
    Atlantic States: All states that border the Atlantic Ocean, from Maine to Florida
    East: All states east of the Mississippi River
    Middle Atlantic States: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
    Middle West or Midwest: from the Rocky Mountains to the Allegheny Mountains; Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
    New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
    Northeast: east of the Mississippi River, north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin.
    Northwest: states between Lake Superior and the Pacific Ocean: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming.
    Pacific Northwest: Old Oregon country: Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming.
    Pacific States: All states that border the Pacific Ocean: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington.
    Rocky Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming.
    South Atlantic: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.
    South: States south of the Mason-Dixon Line: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia.
    New Southwest: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
    Old Southwest: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas
    Southwest: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah.
    West: All states west of the Mississippi River.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Amazon River Noun

    (6,280 kilometers/3,900 miles) longest river in South America.

    ancient Adjective

    very old.

    artificial feature Noun

    part of the landscape created by people.

    characterize Verb

    to describe the characteristics of something.

    Christianity Noun

    religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

    climate Noun

    all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate
    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    crust Noun

    rocky outermost layer of Earth or other planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: crust
    democracy Noun

    system of organization or government where the people decide policies or elect representatives to do so.

    diversity Noun

    difference.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    geography Noun

    study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    Encyclopedic Entry: geography
    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    Islam Noun

    religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.

    Judaism Noun

    religion based on the holy book of the Torah and the teaching surrounding it.

    language Noun

    set of sounds, gestures, or symbols that allows people to communicate.

    Mesozoic Noun

    (250 million years ago-65 million years ago) second era in the Phanerozoic eon. Also called the Age of Dinosaurs.

    Middle East Noun

    region of southwest Asia and northeast Africa.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    monarchy Noun

    system of government in which national power is invested in one person, usually a king or queen.

    natural feature Noun

    characteristic of a geographic region that was not created by humans.

    paleogeography Noun

    study of Earth's ancient geologic environments.

    Pangaea Noun

    supercontinent of all the Earth's landmass that existed about 250 million years ago.

    plate tectonics Noun

    movement and interaction of the Earth's plates.

    prehistoric Adjective

    period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.

    rainfall Noun

    amount of precipitation that falls in a specific area during a specific time.

    region Noun

    any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    religion Noun

    a system of spiritual or supernatural belief.

    supercontinent Noun

    ancient, giant landmass that split apart to form all the continents we know today.

    temperature Noun

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: temperature
    wildlife Noun

    organisms living in a natural environment.

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