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EnchantedLearning.com
Landforms
Label Landforms Illustrated Glossary:
Landforms Quiz Landforms and Bodies of Water Geography pages

Definitions:

archipelago butte
atoll bay A butte is a flat-
An archipelago is a A bay is a body of
An atoll is a ring (or topped rock or
group or chain of water that is partly
partial ring) of coral hill formation
islands clustered
that forms an island in enclosed by land (and is with steep sides.
together in a sea or usually smaller than a
an ocean or sea.
ocean. gulf).

channel
A channel is a body of
cave water that connects two
A cave is a larger bodies of water
canyon cape large hole in
(like the English
A canyon is a deep
A cape is a pointed the ground or Channel). A channel is
valley with very steep
piece of land that in the side of a also a part of a river or
sides - often carved
sticks out into a sea, hill or harbor that is deep
from the Earth by a
ocean, lake, or river. mountain. enough to let ships sail
river.
through.

continent
The land mass on Earth is
col divided into continents.
A The seven current cove
mountain continents are Africa, A cove is small, horseshoe-
cliff shaped body of water along
A cliff is a steep face pass. Antarctica, Asia,
Australia, Europe, North the coast; the water is
of rock and soil. surrounded by land formed
America, and South
America. of soft rock.

delta
dune
A delta is a low, watery land formed at
the mouth of a river. It is formed from
A dune is a hill equator
or a ridge made The equator is an
the silt, sand and small rocks that flow
desert of sand. Dunes imaginary circle
downstream in the river and are
are shaped by around the earth,
deposited in the delta. A delta is often A desert is a
very dry the wind, and halfway between
(but not always) shaped like a triangle
area. change all the the north and south
(hence its name, delta, a Greek letter
time. poles.
that is shaped like a triangle).

geomorphology
Geomorphology is the geyser
estuary scientific field that
fjord A geyser is a natural
An estuary is investigates how landforms
A fjord is a long, hot spring that
where a river
narrow sea inlet that are formed on the Earth (and occasionally sprays
meets the sea other planets).
is bordered by steep water and steam
or ocean.
cliffs. above the ground.
island
glacier gulf hill
An island is a piece
A glacier is a A hill is a raised
A gulf is a part of the ocean (or of land that is
slowly moving area or mound
sea) that is partly surrounded by surrounded by
river of ice. of land.
land (it is usually larger than a water.
bay).

latitude
lagoon Latitude is the angular
A lagoon is a lake distance north or south
shallow body A lake is a large from the equator to a
isthmus of water that body of water particular location. The
An isthmus is a narrow is located surrounded by land equator has a latitude of
strip of land connecting alongside a on all sides. Really zero degrees. The North
two larger landmasses. coast. huge lakes are often Pole has a latitude of 90
An isthmus has water on called seas. degrees North; the South
two sides. Pole has a latitude of 90
degrees South.

marsh
A marsh is a type
longitude of freshwater, mesa mountain
Longitude is the angular brackish water or A mesa is a land A mountain is a
distance east or west from the saltwater wetland formation with a very tall high,
north-south line that passes that is found along flat area on top and natural place on
through Greenwich, England, rivers, pond, lakes steep walls - Earth - higher
to a particular location. and coasts. Marsh usually occurring than a hill. The
Greenwich, England has a plants grow up out in dry areas. tallest mountain
longitude of zero degrees. of the water. on Earth is Mt.
The farther east or west of Everest.
Greenwich you are, the
greater your longitude.
Midway Islands (in the
Pacific Ocean) have a
longitude of 180 degrees
(they are on the opposite side
of the globe from
Greenwich).

ocean plain
plateau
Plains are flat
An ocean is a large body peninsula A plateau is a large,
lands that have
of salt water that A peninsula is a flat area of land that is
only small
surrounds a continent. body of land that is higher than the
changes in
Oceans cover more the surrounded by water surrounding land.
elevation.
two-thirds of the Earth's on three sides.
surface

prairie
pond A prairie is a sea
river A sea is a large body of
wide, relatively
A pond is a small A river is a large,
flat area of land salty water that is often
body of water flowing body of
that has grasses connected to an ocean. A
surrounded by land. water that usually
and only a few sea may be partly or
A pond is smaller empties into a sea or
trees. completely surrounded by
than a lake. ocean.
land.

sound
A sound is a wide
source
inlet of the sea or
A source is
ocean that is parallel swamp
to the coastline; it
the strait A swamp is a type of
beginning of A strait is a narrow
often separates a freshwater wetland that has
a river. body of water that
coastline from a spongy, muddly land and a lot
nearby island. connects two larger of water. Many trees and
bodies of water. shrubs grow in swamps.
tributary
A tributary is a stream or
river that flows into a larger valley
river. A valley is a low place
tundra between mountains.
A tundra is a cold, treeless area;
it is the coldest biome.

volcano wetland
A volcano is a waterfall A wetland is an area of land that is often wet;
mountainous vent in the When a river the soil in wetlands are often low in oxygen.
Earth's crust. When a falls off Wetland plants are adapted to life in wet soil.
volcano erupts, it spews steeply, there There are many types of wetlands, including:
out lava, ashes, and hot is a waterfall. swamp, slough, fen, bog, marsh, moor,
gases from deep inside muskeg, peatland, bottomland, delmarva, mire,
the Earth. wet meadow, riparian, etc.

Boundaries
Asia's border with Europe—which, geographically, may be regarded as a peninsula of the
Eurasian landmass—lies approximately along the Urals, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea,
the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, and the Aegean Sea.
The connection of Asia with Africa is broken only by the Suez Canal between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. In the far northeast of Asia, Siberia is separated from
North America by the Bering Strait. The continent of Asia is washed on the S by the Gulf
of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal; on the E by the South China Sea, East
China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, and Bering Sea; and on the N by
the Arctic Ocean.

Geology and Geography


Geologically, Asia consists of ancient Precambrian landmasses—the Arabian and Indian
peninsulas in the south and the central Siberian plateau in the north—enclosing a central
zone of folded ridges. In accordance with this underlying structure, Asia falls into the
following major physiographic structures: the northern lowlands covering W central Asia
and most of Siberia; the vast central highland zone of high plateaus, rising to c.15,000 ft
(4,570 m) in Tibet in China and enclosed by some of the world's greatest mountain ranges
(the Himalayas, the Karakorum, the Kunlun, the Tian Shan, and the Hindu Kush); the
southern peninsular plateaus of India and Arabia, merging, respectively, into the Ganges
and Tigris-Euphrates plains; and the lowlands of E Asia, especially in China, which are
separated by mountain spurs of the central highland zone. Mt. Everest (29,035 ft/8,850
m), in Nepal, is the world's highest peak; the Dead Sea (1,312 ft/400 m below sea level)
is the world's lowest point. Great peninsulas extend out from the mainland, dividing the
oceans into seas and bays, many of them protected by Asia's numerous offshore islands.
Asia's rivers, among the longest in the world, generally rise in the high plateaus and break
through the great chains toward the peripheral lowlands. They include the Ob-Irtysh, the
Yenisei-Argana, and Lena of Siberia; the Amur-Argun, Huang He, Chang (Yangtze), Xi,
Mekong, Thanlwin, and Ayeyarwady of E and SE Asia; and the Ganges-Brahmaputra,
Indus, and Tigris-Euphrates of S and SW Asia. Central Asia has vast areas of interior
drainage, including the Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Ili, and Tarim rivers, which empty into
inland lakes or disappear into desert sands. The Aral Sea, Lake Baykal, and Lake Balkash
are among the world's largest lakes. Climatically, the continent ranges through all
extremes, from torrid heat to arctic cold and from torrential rains (the product of
monsoons) to extreme aridity (as in the Tarim Basin).

Asia can be divided into six regions, each possessing distinctive physical, cultural,
economic, and political characteristics. Southwest Asia (Iran; Turkey, in Asia Minor; and
the nations of the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian peninsula or Arabia), long a strategic
crossroad, is characterized by an arid climate and irrigated agriculture, great petroleum
reserves, and the predominance of Islam. South Asia (Afghanistan and the nations of the
Indian subcontinent) is isolated from the rest of Asia by great mountain barriers.
Southeast Asia (the nations of the southeastern peninsula and the Malay Archipelago) is
characterized by monsoon climate, maritime orientation, the fusion of Indian and Chinese
cultures, and a great diversity of ethnic groups, languages, religions, and politics. East
Asia (China, Mongolia, Korea, and the islands of Taiwan and Japan) is located in the
mid-latitudes on the Pacific Ocean, and is characterized by cultures strongly influenced
by civilizations of the Huang He and Chang (Yangtze) river systems. It forms the most
industrialized region of Asia. Russian Asia (in the northern third of the continent) consists
of the vast region of Siberia and the Russian Far East. In the center of the continent is
Central Asia, formed of a set of independent former republics of the Soviet Union. This
region is characterized by desert conditions and irrigated agriculture, with ancient
traditions of nomadic herding.

Population, Culture, and Economy


The distribution of Asia's huge population is governed by climate and topography, with
the monsoons and the fertile alluvial plains determining the areas of greatest density.
Such are the Ganges plains of India and the Chang (Yangtze) and northern plains of
China, the small alluvial plains of Japan, and the fertile volcanic soils of the Malay
Archipelago. Urbanization is greatest in the industrialized regions of Japan, Korea, and
Taiwan, but huge urban centers are to be found throughout the continent.
Almost two thirds of Asia's indigenous population is of Mongolic stock. Major religions
are Hinduism (in India); Theravada Buddhism (in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand,
Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos); Lamaism, or Tibetan Buddhism (in Mongolia and China,
particularly Tibet); East Asian Buddhism (in China and Korea, mixed with Confucianism,
shamanism, and Taoism; in Japan mixed with Shinto and Confucianism); Islam (in SW
and S Asia, W central Asia, and Indonesia); and Catholicism (in the Philippines, East
Timor, and Vietnam).

Subsistence hunting and fishing economies prevail in the forest regions of N and S Asia,
and nomadic pastoralism in the central and southwestern regions, while industrial
complexes and intensive rice cultivation are found in the coastal plains and rivers of S
and E Asia. Because of extremes in climate and topography, less than 10% of Asia is
under cultivation. Rice, by far the most important food crop, is grown for local
consumption in the heavily populated countries (e.g., China, India, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, and Japan), while countries with smaller populations (Thailand, Vietnam,
and Pakistan) are generally rice exporters. Other important crops are wheat, soybeans,
peanuts, sugarcane, cotton, jute, silk, rubber, tea, and coconuts.

Although Asia's economy is predominantly agricultural, regions where power facilities,


trained labor, modern transport, and access to raw materials are available have developed
industrially. Japan, China, Russian Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and Israel are
distinguished for their industrialization. China and India are making considerable strides
in this direction. The most spectacular industrialization has occurred in Japan and the
“Four Little Dragons”—Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The economies of
Thailand, Indonesia, and South China are booming thanks to Japanese investment in
plants and to cheap indigenous labor. The development of railroads is greatest in the
industrialized countries, with Japan, India, China, and Russian Asia having the greatest
track mileage.

Also contributing greatly to the income of many Asian countries are vital mineral exports
—petroleum in SW Asia, Russian Asia, and Indonesia and tin in Malaysia, Thailand, and
Indonesia. Asia's other valuable mineral exports include manganese from India and
chromite from Turkey and the Philippines; China produces great amounts of tungsten,
antimony, coal, and oil.

Population, Culture, and Economy


The distribution of Asia's huge population is governed by climate and topography, with
the monsoons and the fertile alluvial plains determining the areas of greatest density.
Such are the Ganges plains of India and the Chang (Yangtze) and northern plains of
China, the small alluvial plains of Japan, and the fertile volcanic soils of the Malay
Archipelago. Urbanization is greatest in the industrialized regions of Japan, Korea, and
Taiwan, but huge urban centers are to be found throughout the continent.

Almost two thirds of Asia's indigenous population is of Mongolic stock. Major religions
are Hinduism (in India); Theravada Buddhism (in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand,
Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos); Lamaism, or Tibetan Buddhism (in Mongolia and China,
particularly Tibet); East Asian Buddhism (in China and Korea, mixed with Confucianism,
shamanism, and Taoism; in Japan mixed with Shinto and Confucianism); Islam (in SW
and S Asia, W central Asia, and Indonesia); and Catholicism (in the Philippines, East
Timor, and Vietnam).

Subsistence hunting and fishing economies prevail in the forest regions of N and S Asia,
and nomadic pastoralism in the central and southwestern regions, while industrial
complexes and intensive rice cultivation are found in the coastal plains and rivers of S
and E Asia. Because of extremes in climate and topography, less than 10% of Asia is
under cultivation. Rice, by far the most important food crop, is grown for local
consumption in the heavily populated countries (e.g., China, India, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, and Japan), while countries with smaller populations (Thailand, Vietnam,
and Pakistan) are generally rice exporters. Other important crops are wheat, soybeans,
peanuts, sugarcane, cotton, jute, silk, rubber, tea, and coconuts.

Although Asia's economy is predominantly agricultural, regions where power facilities,


trained labor, modern transport, and access to raw materials are available have developed
industrially. Japan, China, Russian Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and Israel are
distinguished for their industrialization. China and India are making considerable strides
in this direction. The most spectacular industrialization has occurred in Japan and the
“Four Little Dragons”—Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The economies of
Thailand, Indonesia, and South China are booming thanks to Japanese investment in
plants and to cheap indigenous labor. The development of railroads is greatest in the
industrialized countries, with Japan, India, China, and Russian Asia having the greatest
track mileage.

Also contributing greatly to the income of many Asian countries are vital mineral exports
—petroleum in SW Asia, Russian Asia, and Indonesia and tin in Malaysia, Thailand, and
Indonesia. Asia's other valuable mineral exports include manganese from India and
chromite from Turkey and the Philippines; China produces great amounts of tungsten,
antimony, coal, and oil.