Examples of Geography Terms

Updated January 8, 2021
Mountains and a lake as examples of geography terms
    lake surrounded by mountains

Geography is the study of the earth, its physical features, atmosphere, and resources. This includes all Earth's landforms, oceans, and ecosystems, as well as the impact of human society on its environment.

Geography Terms

There are a lot of geographic terms to know when studying this field, below are 50 basic geography terms with their definitions and an example to help you remember.

  • Antipodes - Two points that are on the exact opposite sides of the earth, for example, the North and South Poles.
  • Archipelago - A group or chain of islands, for example, the Malay Archipelago.
  • Atoll - A ring of coral that makes an island, for example, Lighthouse Reef near Belize.
  • Basin - A section of land eroded by water, causing it to be lower than the surrounding land.
  • Bay - A small body of water enclosed partially by land, for example, Hudson Bay in Canada.
  • Biosphere - The part of the earth capable of supporting living things.
  • Butte - A hill with a flat top and steep sides, for example, Merrick's Butte in Arizona.
  • Canal - A waterway made by man for irrigation or easier transportation, for example, the Suez Canal.
  • Canyon - A valley that is deep and has steep sides, for example, the Grand Canyon.
  • Cape - A section of land that juts out into the water, for example, Cape Cod.
  • Cave - A large open area in the ground or in the side of a mountain or hill, for example, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
  • Channel - A narrow stretch of water between to larger bodies of water, for example, the English Channel.
  • Cliff - A steep rock face often found by the ocean, for example, the White Cliffs of Dover.
  • Continent - A large land mass, for example, Africa.
  • Cove - A small bay that is sheltered and shaped like a horseshoe, for example, Coron Island Cove in the Philippines.
  • Delta - The area at the mouth of a river formed with deposits brought down the river, for example, the Ganges Delta in India.
  • Desert - An area with little rainfall and sparse vegetation, for example, the Sahara Desert.
  • Dune - A hill made of sand, for example, the White Sands in New Mexico.
  • Estuary - The area where the fresh water from a river meets the salt water from an ocean, for example, the Amazon Estuary.
  • Fjord - A long narrow inlet between steep cliffs, for example, the Lysefjord in Norway.
  • Geyser - A hot spring that occasionally sends up a column of water and steam, for example, Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park.
  • Glacier - A large mass of ice that moves slowly, for example, the Easton Glacier on Mount Baker.
  • Gulf - An area of ocean partially surrounded by land, for example, the Gulf of Alaska.
  • Hill - A raised mound of land, for example, the Chocolate Hills in the Philippines.
  • Ice shelf - A platform of ice floating near the coast, for example, the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
  • Island - A piece of land totally surrounded by water, for example, Crete in Greece.
  • Isthmus - A narrow strip of land that connects two larger land masses, for example, the Isthmus of Panama.
  • Lagoon - A body of water that is not very deep with a sandbank or strip of land separating it from the ocean, for example, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
  • Lake - A large body of water totally surrounded by land, for example, Lake Titicaca in the Andes.
  • Marsh - A wetland near lakes and streams, for example, the Macoun Marsh in Ontario, Canada.
  • Mesa - A large landform that is flat on top and has steep sides, for example, Tucumcari Mountain in New Mexico.
  • Mountain - A very tall landform, for example, Mt. Everest in the Himalayas.
  • Oasis - An area in a desert that has water and vegetation, for example, the Siwa Oasis in Egypt.
  • Ocean - A very large body of salt water, for example, the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Peninsula - An area of land surrounded on three sides with water, for example, Italy.
  • Plain - Flat areas of land, for example, the Great Plains in North America.
  • Plateau - A tableland that is fairly flat, for example, the Tibetan Plateau.
  • Pond - A small body of water surrounded by land, for example, Walden Pond in Massachusetts.
  • Prairie - A large flat area with grasses and few trees, for example, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in the United States.
  • Range - A series of mountains, for example, the Appalachian Mountain Range.
  • Reef - A growth of coral under the sea and near the surface, for example, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  • River - A large body of water that flows, for example, the Nile River.
  • Sea - A large body of salt water, for example, the Black Sea in Europe.
  • Strait - A narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water, for example, the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Swamp - A freshwater wetland with muddy land, for example, the Amazon River floodplain.
  • Tributary - A river that flows into a larger river, for example, the Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River.
  • Tundra - A flat, treeless area where the soil is permanently frozen, for example, the Greenland Tundra.
  • Valley - The low area between mountains, for example, the Rio Grande Valley.
  • Volcano - A mountain with a vent where lava, steam, and ash comes out, sometimes violently, for example, St. Helen's.
  • Waterfall - Water falling from a height, usually off a cliff or side of a mountain, for example, Niagara Falls.

All of these terms show different examples of geography. Refer to this glossary whenever you need to recall essential facts and definitions for common geography terms. Continue learning about this topic by exploring the 5 themes of geography.