• tropics
    Clear skies, beautiful beaches . . . must be the tropics.

    Photograph by Mary Ann Tardif, My Shot

    The Snows of Kilimanjaro
    Elevation can affect the climate of a tropical region. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, with an elevation of 5,895 meters (19,340 feet), is a tropical mountain cold enough to support glaciers.

    The tropics are regions of the Earth that lie roughly in the middle of the globe. The tropics between the latitude lines of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The tropics include the Equator and parts of North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The tropics account for 36 percent of the Earth's landmass and are home to about a third of the world's people.

    The tropics are warm all year, averaging 25 to 28 degrees Celsius (77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). This is because the tropics get more exposure to the sun. Because of all that sun, the tropics don't experience the kind of seasons the rest of the Earth does. The tropical seasons are broken up into just two: the wet season and the dry season.

    The amount of rain can vary greatly from one area of the tropics to another. Some areas, like parts of the Amazon Basin in South America, get almost 3 meters (9 feet) of rain per year. Other areas in the tropics have a drier climate. The Sahara Desert in northern Africa only gets 2-10 centimeters (.793.9 inches) of rain per year.

    The amount of rain a region gets in the tropics directly affects which plant and animal species live there. The baobab tree thrives in the arid tropics of Africa, for instance. The baobab stores water in its huge trunk. On the other extreme is the rainy island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka gets enough precipitation to support 250 species of frogs.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    arid Adjective

    dry.

    baobab Noun

    tree native to Africa, Australia, and Madagascar.

    climate Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate
    Earth Noun

    our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Earth
    Equator Noun

    imaginary line around the Earth, another planet, or star running east-west, 0 degrees latitude.

    Encyclopedic Entry: equator
    glacier Noun

    mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: glacier
    globe Noun

    scale model of the Earth, or sometimes used to mean the Earth itself.

    Encyclopedic Entry: globe
    landmass Noun

    large area of land.

    latitude Noun

    distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: latitude
    precipitation Noun

    all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: precipitation
    Tropic of Cancer Noun

    line of latitude 23.5 degrees north of the Equator.

    Tropic of Capricorn Noun

    line of latitude 23.5 degrees south of the Equator.

    tropics Noun

    region generally located between the Tropic of Cancer (23 1/2 degrees north of the Equator) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23 1/2 degrees south of the Equator).

    Encyclopedic Entry: tropics
    trunk Noun

    main shaft or stem of a tree.

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