Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, is the second most populous city in the UNITED STATES with an estimated 2002 population of approximately 3.8 million. Los Angeles (also known as L.A.) is the principal city of a metropolitan region with a population of over 12 million. Located in the Los Angeles basin, the city is 470 square mi […]

Lop Nor

ALSO SPELLED Lob-Nor, Lop Nur, and Lop Nuur, this name invites confusion as it has been applied to a lake (actually two), a village, and a region in eastern XINJIANG province (CHINA). Lop is also the name of a “great desert” and a “large town” that Marco Polo mentioned and Faxian described. The city of […]


LOCATED ON THE Thames River in southwestern England in the British Isles, London is the capital of England and the UNITED KINGDOM. The history of London can be traced back nearly 2,000 years to its founding as Londinium in 50 C.E. by the Romans. Much debate has occurred as to the exact type of Roman […]

Loire River

TO MANY PEOPLE, the Loire River defines FRANCE. It is the country's largest river and draws together its different regions, east and west, north and south. The Renaissance chateaus along its lower course are the second-largest tourist draw after Paris, and the river provides water and transportation for the nation's agricultural center. From its origins […]


LOESS (PRONOUNCED “LUSS”) is a very fine light soil, often buff, yellow, or gray in color. The word stems from the German word loss or “loose,” and loess is generally easily eroded by water or blown by wind. Major loess deposits are found in Shaanxi, CHINA, in some of the U.S. plains states, notably western […]


ALSO KNOWN AS the Orinoco River plains, the llanos of COLOMBIA and VENEZUELA are the northernmost section of the central lowlands of South America. The llanos are formed by a large geologic depression that once was an arm of the sea. This location is an alluvial basin between the northern ANDES MOUNTAINS and the Guyana […]


THE WORD LITTORAL comes from the Latin root littus, or “seashore.” The littoral zone of a lake or ocean refers to the shallow waters closest to shore. In lakes, this is the zone dropping from the shoreline to roughly 10 ft (3 m) deep where there is enough sunlight for rooted plants to exist. Only […]


Area 25,173 square mi (65,200 square km) Population 2.929 million 2014 Capital Vilnius Highest Point Juozapine/Kalnas 954 ft (292 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $48.17 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources peat, arable land. THE REPUBLIC OF Lithuania in northern Europe is a lowland country that borders LATVIA to the north, BELARUS to the east […]


WITH A metropolitan-area population of 2,682,687, Lisbon is the capital and largest city in PORTUGAL. It is located on the right bank of the Tagus River, where it forms a large estuary providing a natural safe harbor close to the ATLANTIC OCEAN. The city evolves over a series of hills and enjoys a Mediterranean climate, […]


Area 62.4 square mi (160 square km) Population 37,290 2014 Capital Vaduz Highest Point 8,577 ft (2,599 m) Lowest Point 1,419 ft (430 m) GDP $5.488 billion 2012 Primary Natural Resources hydroelectric potential. ONE OF WESTERN Europe's five microstates, the story-book principality of Liechtenstein is in reality one of the few “absolutist” states in the […]


Area 679,362 square mi (1,759,540 square km) Population 6.259 million (2014) Capital Tripoli Highest Point 7,437 ft (2,267 m) Lowest Point -154 ft (-47 m) GDP $41.12 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources crude oil, petroleum products. A RELATIVELY LARGE country, similar in size to the state of ALASKA, Libya largely consists of broad rolling deserts, […]


Area 43,000 sq. mi. (111,370 sq. km) Population 4.397 million (2014) Capital Monrovia Highest Point 4,540 ft (1,383 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $2.027 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources rubber, coffee, cocoa, timber. LIBERIA, “LAND OF THE FREE,” in western Africa, borders the north ATLANTIC OCEAN, between COTE D'IVOIRE and SIERRA LEONE. It has 10 […]

Lewis and Clark

IN 1804, MERIWETHER Lewis and William Clark began an expedition across the newly acquired LOUISIANA PURCHASE territory. These two army captains were chosen by the American president, Thomas Jefferson, to explore new land the UNITED STATES had purchased from FRANCE one year earlier, and to find a direct water route across the nation. For a […]


Area 11,720 square mi (30,355 square km) Population 2.109 million (2014) Capital Maseru Highest Point 11,425 ft (3,482 m) Lowest Point 4,265 ft (1,301 m) GDP $2.088 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources water, diamonds, minerals. LESOTHO IS LOCATED literally within SOUTH AFRICA: This small southern African country is landlocked and surrounded on all sides by […]

Lena River

THE LENA RIVER is one of Russia's great northern rivers, draining an area of 899,641 square mi (2,306,772 square km) and encompassing a region rich in wildlife and natural resources, including one of the world's largest deposits of gold. This is also one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet, with extremes of temperature […]

leeward and windward

THE TERMS leeward and windward are used in a number of ways to describe specific places, physical features, and climatic processes. In one sense, windward and leeward generally refer to the location of a place relative to the prevailing wind direction. A windward location is one that is exposed to the prevailing winds. Conversely, a […]


Area 4,015 square mi (10,400 square km) Population 4.547 million 2014 Capital Beirut Highest Point 10,131 ft (3,088 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $45.73 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources limestone, iron ore, salt, water, arable land. LEBANON, ONE OF the world's smallest countries, is on the eastern shore of the MEDITERRANEAN SEA. SYRIA is […]

Law of the Sea

THE LAW OF THE SEA is a compilation of international and national laws regulating the demarcation of areas of maritime jurisdiction appertaining to maritime states. While its origins were military and defensive today it focuses on respective rights of resource exploitation—oil and minerals as well as fisheries. The importance of international innocent passage via geopolitical […]


Area 24,937 square mi (64,589 square km) Population 1.990 million 2014 Capital Riga Highest Point Gaizinkalns 1,017 ft (311 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $31.92 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources peat, limestone, dolomite, amber. ON THE EASTERN shore of the Baltic Sea in northern Europe, the Republic of Latvia is a flat country that […]

latitude and longitude

LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE are points on lines that graph the Earth and allow cartographers and others, by assigning measurements to the lines, to fix the location of any place. Latitude lines run east and west and are also called parallels; longitude lines run north and south and are known as meridians. The measurements for both […]


Area 91,429 square mi (236,800 square km) Population 5,921,545 Capital Vientiane Highest Point 9,240 ft (2,817 m) Lowest Point 230 ft (70 m) GDP per capita $326 Primary Natural Resources timber, hydropower, gypsum. LAOS, THE ONLY landlocked (without any ocean coastline) Southeast Asian country, is one of the poorest of the world, with 40 percent […]


APPROXIMATELY ONE-FIFTH of the world's countries have no access to the oceans or ocean-connected seas, classifying them as landlocked. Today, there are 42 landlocked countries, including LIECHTENSTEIN and UZBEKISTAN, considered doubly landlocked because they have no access to the oceans and neither does any country that surrounds them. The main issues to consider with a […]

land bridge

IN GEOMETRICAL TERMS, a square also qualifies as a rectangle—a four-sided plane figure with four right angles—but a rectangle does not always meet the criteria to be a square—a figure having four equal sides. Such is the case with land bridges and isthmuses. An isthmus qualifies as a land bridge—a strip of land linking two […]

lacustrine plain

ALSO CALLED A lake plain, a lacustrine plain is an area created out of deposition largely related to the past existence of lakes in the area, although in some cases, the original lakes still exist, having shrunk in size over time. Lacustrine refers to the condition of being affected by a lake or several lakes. […]

Kyushu Mountains

THE KYUSHU MOUNTAINS form the high, elevated central portion of the Japanese island of Kyushu, the southernmost of JAPAN's four main islands. Running roughly diagonally across the island, northeast to southwest, they cut Kyushu into a northern and southern sector. These sectors differ markedly from each other in many ways, from geology to economics: the […]


Area 76,641 square mi (198,500 square km) Population 5.834 million 2014 Capital Bishkek Highest Point 24,407 ft (7,439 m) Lowest Point 433 ft (132 m) GDP $7.404 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources hydropower, gold, coal, oil. LANDLOCKED AND MOUNTAINOUS, the Kyrgyz Republic achieved its independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan […]

Kyrghiz Steppes

THE KYRGHIZ STEPPES is a historic name for the region currently forming central and eastern KAZAKHSTAN. It is a broad plain with few to no trees and little moisture. It is a land of horses and cattle and wideopen plains. The name is confusing, and thus used less frequently today, since the actual Republic of […]


Area 6,880 square mi (17,280 square km) Population 3.753 million 2014 Capital Kuwait City Highest Point 1,004 ft (306 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $175.8 billion 2013 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas. KUWAIT IS A COUNTRY in the MIDDLE EAST, bordering the PERSIAN GULF, between IRAQ and SAUDI ARABIA. The establishment […]

Kuroshio Current

THE KUROSHIO IS a warm northeasterly ocean current off the coast of JAPAN. This current is also called the gulf stream of the Pacific or Japan Current. Kuroshio means “the black stream” in Japanese, named after the deep ultramarine color of the high salinity water, which is found flowing north of the current's axis. The […]

Kosciusko, Mount

MOUNT KOSCIUSKO (also spelled “Kosciuszko”) is the highest point (7,310 ft or 2,228 m) in mainland AUSTRALIA. Named after the Polish military leader Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746–1817), the mountain is a core component of the Kosciuszko National Park in the state of New South Wales. One of the Australian Alps national parks, the park is a […]

Korea, South

Area 38,294 square mi (98,190 square km) Population 50.42 million 2014 Capital Seoul Highest Point 6,435 ft (1,950 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $1.410 trillion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coal, tungsten, lead, hydropower potential. AN ECONOMIC GIANT of East Asia, South Korea's economy took off after the Korean War of the 1950s. South Koreans […]

Korea, North

Area 46,541 square mi (120,540 square km) Population 25.03 million 2014 Capital P'yongyang Highest Point 9,055 ft (2,744 m) Lowest Point 0 m Primary Natural Resources coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite. THE DEMOCRATIC People's Republic of Korea, North Korea, is one of the world's most politically isolated countries. Separated from its sister nation (South KOREA) […]

Kopet Mountains

THE SMALL RANGE of mountains that forms the northern boundary of IRAN with TURKMENISTAN is known as the Kopet Dag, or Kopet Mountains (Kopetdag in Turkmen). The range stretches for 400 mi (645 km), from a point near the CASPIAN SEA to the Harirud River in the east, which flows from northwestern AFGHANISTAN to a […]

Kolkata (Calcutta)

CALCUTTA, RECENTLY renamed Kolkata after its original village site of Kolikata and an on-site temple of goddess Kali, was founded by Job Charnock in 1690 on behalf of the British East India Company. The same location in northwestern INDIA was also a Portuguese and Dutch encampment site during the mid-17th century. It is, however the […]

Kola Peninsula

THE KOLA PENINSULA IS one of RUSSIA's regions of great contrast: at once an area of stark natural beauty and of severe ecological danger; rich in minerals, but one of Russia's poorest regions; and an area that is both closely linked to the concerns of Western Europe and strictly isolated from the outside world. The […]


Area 313 square mi (811 square km) Population 110,500 2014 Capital Bairiki Highest Point Banaba Island 243 ft (81 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $166.8 million 2014 Primary Natural Resources phosphate (depleted by 1979), copra. THE REPUBLIC OF Kiribati consists of 33 atolls straddling the equator and the INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE. The country is […]

Kilimanjaro, Mount

A MAJESTIC ROCKY GIANT, Mount Kilimanjaro is crowned by an icecap, impressively dominating the scenery. Mount Kilimanjaro towers above the Masai Steppe or the Great Rift Valley, which is believed to be the site of the origin of humankind. Pictures that shaped our imagination of East Africa are firmly connected to Kilimanjaro. The highest mountain […]


KHARTOUM IS THE capital city and administrative region of the Republic of the SUDAN, located at the confluence of the Blue and White NILE rivers. Khartoum is the second-largest city in North Africa, with an estimated population of 2.5 million in the city proper, and up to 7 million in the Greater Khartoum district, which […]


Area 224,900 square mi (582,488 square km) Capital Nairobi Population 44.86 million (2014) Highest Point 17,058 ft (5,199 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $60.94 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources coffee, tea, corn, vegetables, livestock. KENYA, WHICH LIES astride the equator on the eastern coast of Africa, is bordered in the north by SUDAN and […]


NICKNAMED FOR the bluegrass that covers much of this U.S. state, and known for its whiskey and for the Kentucky Derby that takes place annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky was named for the Kentucky River, which was thought to have been named from the Iroquoian word(s) for either “meadowland” or […]


Area 1,049,155 square mi (2,717,300 square km) Population 17.29 million 2014 Capital Astana Highest Point 23,084 ft (6,995 m) Lowest Point -436 ft (-132 m) GDP $212.2 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, coal. THE REPUBLIC OF Kazakhstan occupies the center of the Eurasian supercontinent, the second largest of the former Soviet republics […]


KASHMIR IS THE name given to the Vale of Kashmir, a valley situated on the Jhelum River between the Pir Panjal range and the main range of the HIMALAYAS. By extension, the name is used to refer to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and to a portion of the old preindependence territory that […]


KARST IS A TERRAIN characterized by sinkholes, caves, and disappearing streams that have been created by chemical weathering in thick carbonate bedrock. Karst is named for the Krs Plateau along the ADRIATIC SEA and comes from an old Slavic word meaning “barren land.” In the karst hydrologic cycle, moving water slowly dissolves away the limestone […]


AFTER PAKISTAN'S independence, Karachi was the national capital for 13 years (1947–60). In 2004, it was the capital of the Province of Sind. With a population of a little over 11 million, Karachi is the 16th largest metropolis of the world. Karachi has a semidesert climate with a summer mean temperature of 80 degrees F […]


LOCATED MIDWAY between the east and west coasts of the UNITED STATES, Kansas has a unique position as a geographic hub. Despite images to the contrary, Kansas has a unique geography as a transition between the historic farmlands of the east and the open range of the west. The land rises gently from 679 ft […]

Kamchatka Peninsula

RUSSIA'S FAR EAST IS MARKED by the large mountainous peninsula known as Kamchatka. Kamchatka peaks form one of the most volcanically active regions on earth, counting over thirty active cones, and at least a hundred more that are now inactive. Few people live in this remote corner of Asiatic Russia, where ties to central government, […]

Kalahari Desert

THE NAME KALAHARI is derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi, meaning “the great thirst.” The Kalahari Desert, an arid region on the interior plateau of southern Africa, covers area in central and southwestern BOTSWANA, parts of west-central SOUTH AFRICA and eastern NAMIBIA, encompassing an area of about 100,000 square mi (260,000 square km). The Kalahari […]

Junngar Basin

THE JUNNGAR BASIN (also Dzungar) is one of the two major basins that make up much of northwestern CHINA's XINJIANG province (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). The basin, covering some 69,500 square mi (180,000 square km), is located to the north of the TIAN SHAN MOUNTAINS and has a mixed landscape that includes mountains, deserts, steppes, […]

Jordan Valley

THE JORDAN VALLEY is part of the Great Rift Valley stretching from East Africa to northern SYRIA. Massive cracking of the Earth's crust caused by tectonic plate movements under the continents of Africa and Asia formed a trench over 4,000 mi (6,438 km) long. The northern section created by this faulting activity is the Jordan […]


Area 35,536 square mi (92,300 square km) Population 6.607 million 2014 Capital Amman Highest Point 5,689 ft (1,734 m) Lowest Point -1,340 ft (-408 m) GDP $35.83 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources phosphates, potash, shale. JORDAN IS A MIDDLE Eastern country located in southwest Asia. Its official name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and […]

jet stream

A JET STREAM IS A relatively narrow band of strong horizontal winds in the atmosphere. This band is 100 to 200 mi (250 to 500 km) wide and 1 to 2 mi (several km) deep. The winds in this band are stronger than those in horizontal or vertical regions adjacent to this band. The boundaries […]


THE CAPITAL CITY of the state of ISRAEL, Jerusalem is located in the center of the country. Jerusalem is Israel's largest city, with an area of 48 square mi (126 square km) and a population of 657,500 (2000), of which 68 percent are Jewish and 32 percent mostly Arab. The city is divided into two […]


WITH A population exceeding 120 million, crowded into a space about the size of NEW YORK state (but with nearly six times the population), the island of Java is one of the most densely populated places on Earth (2,070 inhabitants per square mi or 864 per square km). Java is not the largest of the […]


Area 145,843 square mi (377,835 square km) Population 127.1 million 2014 Capital Tokyo Highest Point 12,389 ft (3,776 m) Lowest Point -13 ft (-4 m) GDP $4.601 trillion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coal, copper, rice, sugar beets. JAPAN IS AN ISLAND nation occupying a long, relatively narrow mountainous archipelago of four large and about 3,000 […]


Area 6,829 square mi (10,991 square km) Population 2.721 million 2014 Capital Kingston Highest Point 7,401 ft (2,256 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $14.36 billion 2013 Primary Natural Resources bauxite, gypsum, limestone, sugarcane. JAMAICA, SOME 62 mi (100 km) south of CUBA, is the third-largest island in the CARIBBEAN SEA and is full of […]

Jakota Triangle

THE JAKOTA TRIANGLE is an East Asian region comprising three countries: JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, and TAIWAN. The concept originated with Harm de Blij and it has become popularized in the many editions of Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts, first appearing in the 8th edition, published in 1997. The term triangle was inspired by the three-sided […]


JAKARTA, LOCATED on the island of JAVA, is the capital of INDONESIA and serves as a gateway to the country. Java is located in a chain of islands, with SUMATRA to the northwest, Bali to the east, BORNEO to the northeast, and CHRISTMAS ISLAND to the south. It is the world's 13th-largest island. The huge […]


Area 116,306 square mi (301,230 square km) Population 61.34 million 2014 Capital Rome Highest Point 15,577 ft (4,748 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $2.144 trillion 2014 Primary Natural Resources limited natural gas, minerals, beef, arable land. ITALY, IN SOUTHWESTERN Europe, is a peninsula bordered by FRANCE to the northwest, SWITZERLAND to the north, SLOVENIA […]


THE CITY OF ISTANBUL in TURKEY has one of the most interesting and important physical locations of any sity in the world, the crossroads of TRADE ROUTES by both water and land. It is the only city to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia, and has been at the center of regional commerce for nearly […]


Area 8,019 square mi (20,770 square km) Population 8.215 million 2014 Capital Jerusalem Highest Point 3,974 ft (1,208 m) Lowest Point -1,338 ft (-408 m) GDP $304.2 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources timber, potash, copper ore. THE STATE OF ISRAEL is located on the eastern shore of the MEDITERRANEAN SEA, bordering the Gaza Strip to […]


FOR THE LAST 900 years, Isphahan (Isfahan, Esfahan) has been the capital of the province of the same name in the center of the empire that was known as Persia, now IRAN. The city lies in a basin at an altitude of 5,150 ft (1,570 m) above sea level in the foothills of the ZAGROS […]


AN ISLAND IS A LANDMASS smaller than a continent surrounded by water. The largest islands are GREENLAND, NEW GUINEA, BORNEO, MADAGASCAR, Baffin Island, and SUMATRA. The smallest islands are a few square miles or kilometers. An extended line of islands is an island chain. A cluster of islands is an archipelago. Islands are of either […]


MOST RELIGIONS, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Judaism have a geographic point or place of origin and remain largely focused upon that nexus. Some, such as Christianity and Islam, have engaged in specific efforts to proselytize and spread their faith, often as an integral part of trade. Among the significant geographic impacts of Islam […]


IRRIGATION IS THE application of water to crops in addition to what normal local precipitation supplies. It is primarily used in areas with less than 20 in (51 cm) of rain per year (semiarid or arid climates) or in areas of monsoon rains with long dry periods. Irrigation allows growth of nondryland crops in semi-arid […]

Irrawaddy River

THE IRRAWADDY is the chief river of MYANMAR, or Burma. It is formed from the confluence of the Mali and N'mai rivers far in the northern highlands on the borders with CHINA, and flows 1,350 mi (2,177 km) before entering the Andaman Sea (a section of the BAY OF BENGAL). The river's extensive DELTA begins […]


Area 27,135 square mi (70,280 square km) Population 4.613 million 2014 Capital Dublin Highest Point 3,414 ft (1,041 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $245.9 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources zinc, lead, natural gas, barite, copper, gypsum. THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland covers five-sixths of the island of Ireland and shares its only border with Northern […]


Area 168,754 square mi (437,072 square km) Population 34.81 million 2014 Capital Baghdad Highest Point 11,847 ft (3,611 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $220.5 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, phosphates. IRAQ IS A MIDDLE EASTERN country, bordering the PERSIAN GULF, between IRAN and KUWAIT. Iraq is also bordered by TURKEY, SYRIA, […]


Area 636,296 square mi (1,648,000 square km) Population 78.14 million 2014 Capital Tehran Highest Point 18,605 ft (5,671 m) Lowest Point -91 ft (-28 m) GDP $415.3 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, coal. IRAN IS A MIDDLE EASTERN country, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the PERSIAN GULF, and the CASPIAN SEA, between IRAQ […]


IOWA IS A midwestern state in the north-central part of the UNITED STATES bordered on two sides by major rivers. To the east is the MISSISSIPPI that separates Iowa from ILLINOIS and WISCONSIN. In the west, the Missouri River separates it from NEBRASKA, while the Big Sioux River separates it from SOUTH DAKOTA from Sioux […]


INTIFADA IS THE name given to the popular uprising of the Palestinian population against the continuation of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There have been two Intifadas, the first, essentially spontaneous and indigenous, began in December 1987 and continued sporadically until the early 1990s. The second Intifada began after the collapse […]

international date line

THE INTERNATIONAL date line (IDL) is the imaginary line on Earth slicing through the center of the PACIFIC OCEAN that separates two consecutive calendar days. Countries in the Eastern Hemisphere to the left of the line up to the Prime Meridian are always one day ahead of countries to the right of the line and […]


THE CULTIVATION OF TWO or more crops in combination in the same field at the same time is known as intercropping. This is one of two types of multiple cropping, the other being sequential cropping, whereby two or more crops are grown in sequence in the same field. There are four types of intercropping: Mixed […]

insurgent state

INSURGENT STATE is a term that refers to the creation of a geographic area that not only claims independence from the larger state, but whose leaders and policies also seek to replace the existing political order and state, or to become independent. It is not a segment of the country that seeks independence (civil war). […]

Industrial Revolution

THE INDUSTRIAL Revolution is one of the most dramatic events in modern world history, an event which has more or less influenced all nations of the world in one form or another. The Industrial Revolution began in the late-18th century in England, UNITED KINGDOM, in a region of the country known as the West Midlands—the […]

Indus River

THE INDUS RIVER in PAKISTAN flows 1,900 mi (3,000 km) from southwestern TIBET to the Arabian Sea. From the dawn of human culture, the Indus River has sustained societies along its banks; the earliest civilization that can be reliably distinguished is called the Indus Valley civilization (or Harappan). This sophisticated society is dated back to […]


Area 741,110 square mi (1,919,440 square km) Population 254.5 million 2014 Capital Jakarta Highest Point 16,502 ft (5,030 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $888.5 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, nickel, copper. COMPOSED OF 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the world's sixth-largest nation and the world's largest archipelago, stretching over 5,000 mi (8,047 […]


KNOWN AS THE Hoosier State, the north central state of Indiana (“Land of Indians”) was formed from the Northwest Territory in 1800 and entered the Union in 1816 as the 19th state. Roughly rectangular in shape, Indiana is approximately 270 mi (434 km) north to south and 140 mi (225 km) east to west. The […]

Indian Ocean

MEASURING approximately 26.5 million square mi (68.5 million square km), the Indian Ocean includes the Andaman Sea, ARABIAN SEA, BAY OF BENGAL, Flores Sea, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Java Sea, Mozambique Channel, PERSIAN GULF, RED SEA, Savu Sea, Straits of Malacca, Timor Sea, and other tributary water bodies. The ocean […]


Area 1,284,215 square mi (3,287,590 square km) Population 1.295 billion 2014 Capital New Delhi Highest Point 28,201 ft (8,598 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $2.067 trillion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite. INDIA IS LOCATED in South Asia bordering the INDIAN OCEAN, ARABIAN SEA, and the BAY OF BENGAL in […]


FEW TOPICS ARE MORE emotion-provoking than imperialism, which many consider to be a product of the 20th century and of Europeans. Nothing is further from the truth. By definition, imperialism is the act of imposing one's will (personal or national) on another culture or state to create an empire, or an empire is the consequence […]


ALIENS OR NONCITIZENS who reside or seek to reside temporarily or permanently within the borders of a country are generally termed as immigrants. The term immigrant refers to someone who enters a country, while the word emigrant refers to someone who leaves a country. In the early times, the tendency was to look upon the […]


ILLINOIS IS A midwestern state located in the northcentral part of the UNITED STATES. Lake MICHIGAN and INDIANA border the state in the east, while WISCONSIN borders the state in the north. KENTUCKY lies to the southeast, across the Ohio River, while the MISSISSIPPI RIVER separates the state from MISSOURI and IOWA in the west. […]


IDAHO'S VAST areas of unspoiled beauty and natural wilderness give every reason for the 1,293,953 residents (2000) to know their home as the “Gem” state. Idaho is bounded by CANADA in the north, MONTANA and WYOMING in the east, UTAH and NEVADA in the south, and WASHINGTON and OREGON in the west. The capital and […]


Area 39,769 square mi (103,000 square km) Population 327,600 2014 Capital Reykjavik Highest Point 6,950 ft (2,119 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $17.07 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources hydropower, geothermal heat. ICELAND IS A volcanic island lying on the Mid-Atlantic Rift 170 mi (280 km) southeast of GREENLAND and 500 mi (800 km) northwest […]

Ibn Battuta (1304–1377)

BORN IN TANGIER, MOROCCO, Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Battuta was a famous Arab traveler and writer who explored in Africa, Europe, and Asia. Ibn Battuta's journey began in North Africa in 1325 with travels that included visits to EGYPT, SYRIA, Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula, northeastern IRAN, southern IRAQ, the RED SEA, YEMEN, East Africa, […]

Huron, Lake

LAKE HURON IS ONE of the five Great Lakes and is named for the Hurons, a Native American people who once lived along its shores. Lake Huron covers 23,000 square mi (59,570 square km) and is 206 mi (332 km) long. At its greatest width, it is 193 mi (295 km) across. It lies at […]


THE HUNZA VALLEY in north PAKISTAN is noted for two features: Burushaski, a language that appears to be unrelated to any other language in the world, and secondly, the myth of the health and longevity of its inhabitants, the Hunzakuts. This valley was the reputed location of novelist James Hilton's Shangri-La. The valley is located […]

Huntington, Ellsworth (1876–1947)

CONTEMPORARIES WERE impressed by the clarity of Ellsworth Huntington's style, the intensity of his reasoning, the simplicity of his grand theories, and his unique ability to generalize: “With devastating logic and sound scholarship, Ellsworth Huntington shows how climate, weather, geographical location, diet, health and heredity control the character of a nation—and determine its dominant or […]


Area 35,919 square mi (93,030 square km) Population 9.862 million 2014 Capital Budapest Highest Point 3,346 ft (1,014 m) Lowest Point 257 ft (78 m) GDP $137.1 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources bauxite, coal, natural gas. HUNGARY IS UNIQUE among the nations of Europe in many ways: a relatively flat country among hillier neighbors, a […]

Humboldt Current

THE HUMBOLDT CURRENT, also known as the Peru Current, is an ocean current that flows along the western coast of South America, affecting the water and air temperatures of coastal CHILE and PERU. It is one of the largest ocean currents in the world, bringing cold water north from the South PACIFIC for thousands of […]

Humboldt, Alexander von (1769–1859)

ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT is significant to the study of geography because of the breadth of his scientific inquiries and knowledge and his ability to integrate these studies within larger works that were both scientifically advanced and appealing to a wider nonspecialist public. He was known as a natural scientist of the highest order, working to […]

human geography

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY FOCUSES on interpreting and describing the various ways in which humans in all places and cultures adapt to and possibly modify their natural geographic environments. At the local or national scale, human geographers look at how economic, political, and cultural issues are related to spatial organization in different parts of the planet. How […]

human-environment relationships

THE ENVIRONMENTAL approach in geography, history, anthropology, psychology, and other spheres of humanitarian thought remains one of the most alluring and unequivocal since its origin in ancient times. At the beginning of the 21st century, interdisciplinary studies of cultural history using contemporary methods of instrumental analysis are often bringing scientists to the necessity of taking […]

Hudson River

“THE RIVER THAT Flows Both Ways” is located between Lake Tear of the Clouds and the southern tip of Manhattan in NEW YORK. It flows 315 mi (507 km) and empties into the ATLANTIC OCEAN. Its low and high tides, along with its salty water, account for the river's bidirectional water flow. The Lower Hudson […]

Huang (Yellow) River

THE YELLOW RIVER, called the Huang He by the Chinese, is the second longest river in CHINA reaching 5,500 km (3,000 mi), second only to the CHANGJIANG (Yangzi River). The regions to the north and south of the Huang River are called, respectively, the Hebei (north) and Henan (south). The chief tributaries of the Huang […]


HORST IS THE German word for a high-nesting area for a bird, so the term infers a high elevation. Early geomorphologists fittingly applied the German word to a fault block mountain range. The faulting and vertical displacement is due to tension stresses in the crust. Tension causes crustal rock to spread apart and break to […]

Horn of Africa

THE PENINSULA OF NORTHEAST Africa is called the Horn of Africa. It lies opposite of the southern Arabian Peninsula. This area is also known as the Somali Peninsula because within it lies the countries of SOMALIA and eastern ETHIOPIA. It is the easternmost extension of the African continent separating the Gulf of Aden from the INDIAN […]

Hong Kong

HONG KONG IS A FORMER British colony that returned to the People's Republic of CHINA on June 30, 1997, and is now officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong consists of the island of Hong Kong and about 200 islands and the New Territories that are on Kowloon Peninsula on the mainland. Hong […]


Area 43,278 square mi (112,090 square km) Population 6,669,789 Capital Tegucigalpa Highest Point 9,416 ft (2,870 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP per capita $2,600 Primary Natural Resources timber, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc. Honduras is located right in the heart of Central America, sharing borders with EL SALVADOR, NICARAGUA, and GUATEMALA. Most of the […]

homeland security

AS DEFINED BY the executive branch of the U.S. government, homeland security is “a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur” (July 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security, issued by President George W. Bush). In […]