• sierra
    The sierras of the Sierra Nevada glisten in the twilight.

    Photograph by Lee Bolger, MyShot

    Sierras are mountain ranges. Mountains in Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking regions often have "sierra" in front of their names, such as the Sierra del Sur in southern Mexico or the Sierra Negra in Ecuador.

    Sierra is a Spanish word that means "saw." The peaks of sierras are often rocky and jagged, like the rugged teeth of a saw blade.

    In the United States, the Sierras or the High Sierra usually refers to the Sierra Nevada, a craggy mountain range that borders the U.S. states of California and Nevada.

    The African country of Sierra Leone was named by European explorers in the fifteenth century. Sierra Leone means lion mountains in Italian. The name comes from the Loma Mountains and the lions native to the area.

    Sierras are often popular places for skiing and snowboarding in the winter or camping and hiking in the summer. The Sierra Club, one of the most important environmental preservation groups in the United States, was founded in 1892 by the conservationist John Muir.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    border Verb

    to exist on the edge of a boundary.

    camp Verb

    to live outdoors in temporary shelter such as tents, usually for recreation.

    conservationist Noun

    person who works to preserve natural habitats.

    country Noun

    geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

    craggy Adjective

    rugged or rocky.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    explorer Noun

    person who studies unknown areas.

    high sierra Noun

    tallest part of a high mountain range, usually in a Spanish-speaking country.

    hike Verb

    to walk a long distance.

    John Muir Noun

    (1838-1914) Scottish-American conservationist.

    mountain range Noun

    series or chain of mountains that are close together.

    preservation Noun

    protection from use.

    region Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    sierra Noun

    high mountain range with jagged peaks.

    Encyclopedic Entry: sierra
    skiing Noun

    art and sport of gliding across snow on long, narrow boards strapped to the bottom of the athlete's feet.

    snowboarding Noun

    art and sport of gliding across snow on a short piece of wood and/or fiberglass attached to the bottom of the athlete's foot.

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