FAYUM (also spelled “Faiyum” or “Fayyum”), comes from the Coptic Phiom (“sea”), and geographically designates a muhafazah (governorate), formerly a mudiria (province) of Upper EGYPT, an oasis in northcentral Egypt adjacent to the NILE RIVER, with significant paleontological and archaeological interest. Fayum is one of 26 administrative divisions of the Arab Republic of Egypt and […]

Faroe Islands

THE FAROE OR FAEROE Islands (Faeroerne in Danish, Faroyar in Faroese, meaning the “Sheep Islands”) are located at the intersection of the North ATLANTIC OCEAN and the Norwegian Sea, roughly equidistant between NORWAY, SCOTLAND, and ICELAND. Their closest neighbors are the Shetland Islands, 190 mi (305 km) to the southeast. Like the Shetlands, the Faroes […]

Falkland Islands

THE FALKLAND ISLANDS, a British dependency contested by ARGENTINA, which calls them the Islas Malvinas, are located in the South ATLANTIC OCEAN near South America, approximately 300 mi (483 km) east of Argentina. The Falkland Islands consist of two main islands (East and West Falklands), which are divided by the Falkland Sound. There are more […]

facilities mapping

FACILITIES MAPPING (FM) is the process of digitally identifying and mapping facilities infrastructure with the explicit goal to improve operational management and planning tasks such as dispatching, inventorying, and maintenance. Some examples of facilities include utilities (gas, water, telephone, and electricity), airport siting, and transportation planning. In the past, when a facilities map was needed, […]

exotic rivers

THERE IS A WRITTEN record on the land in the Near East. Here, civilization arose out of the mysteries of the stone age and gave rise to cultures that moved eastward to CHINA and westward through Europe and across the ATLANTIC OCEAN to the Americas. Achievements of ancient origin serve as constant reminders of our […]

Everest, Mount

A PEAK ON THE CREST of the Great Himalayan range in Asia, Everest is the highest point on the Earth. It lies in the Central HIMALAYAS on the border between NEPAL and CHINA (Tibet). Three barren ridges, the southeast, northeast and west culminate in two summits at Everest (29,028 ft or 8,848 m) and South […]

European Union

THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU), with 25 member states in 2004, had its initial organization created after World War II for the purpose of rebuilding Europe after the turmoil and devastation of the war. It was thought that economic and political cooperation would greatly reduce the risks of repeating such a conflict and would be the […]

Ethiopian Highlands

ETHIOPIA IS A LANDLOCKED nation located in northeastern Africa in an area known as the HORN OF AFRICA. While containing large stretches of plains in the east and south, the country is dominated by highlands, which rise to well over 3,000 ft (1,300 m), and the Great Rift Valley, which is several hundred meters below sea […]


Area 435,184 square mi (1,127,127 square km) Population 96.51 million (2014) Capital Addis Ababa Highest Point 15,158 ft (4,620 m) Lowest Point -410 ft (-25 m) GDP $54.80 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources precious metals, natural gas. ETHIOPIA IS LOCATED in northeastern Africa, an area rich in geography, climate, and history. The Great Rift Valley, […]


Area 16,852 square mi (43,211 square km) Population 1.314 million 2014 Capital Tallinn Highest Point 1,050 ft (318 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $25.90 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources oil shale, peat, phosphorite, clay, limestone, dolomite. FOR CENTURIES DOMINATED by its larger and stronger neighbors, since independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, […]


AN ESKER IS A LONG, narrow, often snakelike ridge of sand and gravel deposited on top of the ground where a glacier has retreated. Eskers often follow valleys and lowlands, although some can go uphill. Most eskers are a single ridge, but there are also braided ridges, which are similar in shape to river tributaries. […]


IN GEOLOGY, an escarpment is a steep edge of a ridge or cliff, characterized by an abrupt transition in altitude between two relatively level but differently composed series of sedimentary rocks, differing in age and composition. Escarpments, also known informally as “scarps,” are usually representative of the line of erosion of newer rock over the […]


EROSION HAS MADE huge changes in the surface of the Earth and is still doing so today. Erosion is the removal of materials from the Earth's surface by a variety of processes. The material is eventually deposited elsewhere, often far from where it started. Most erosion is caused by the action of wind, water, or […]


Area 46,662 square mi (121,320 square km) Population 6.536 million (2014) Capital Asmura Highest Point 9,959 ft (3,018 m) Lowest Point -248 ft (-75 m) GDP $3.858 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources precious metals, natural gas. ERITREA IS LOCATED in northeastern Africa, an area known as the HORN OF AFRICA, where the RED SEA empties […]

Erie, Lake

LAKE ERIE, bordered by the province of Ontario in CANADA to the north, NEW YORK to the east, PENNSYLVANIA and OHIO to the south, and MICHIGAN to the west, is the shallowest of the Great Lakes at only 62 ft (18.9 m) and it remains the smallest in volume. Lake Erie is 241 mi wide […]


THE TERM erg is the Bedouin name for a very large body of sand dominated by sand dunes. Bedouins are an African tribe of nomadic herders living in the northern SAHARA DESERT. Two equivalent English-language terms are sand sea and dune field. Transverse dunes typically are part of ergs, or sand seas. As sand is […]

Equatorial Guinea

Area 10,831 square mi (28,051 square km) Population 778,100 (2014) Capital Malabo Highest Point 9,870 ft (3,008 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $14.31 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources petroleum, wood uranium, gold, manganese. EQUATORIAL GUINEA is located in west-central Africa just north of the equator. It is made up of Rio Muni on the African […]


THE WORD EPIDEMIOLOGY is derived from the Greek epi (“upon”), demos (“people”), and logos (“study of”). It refers to the study of phenomena that have been put “upon” people, specifically, afflictions that weigh upon the health of a population over space and time. Epidemiology is a multidimensional science that deals with the study and occurrence […]


AN ENTREPOT (from the Latin emporium) is a settlement founded specifically for commercial activity or a market or mart located within or on the periphery of an administrative/political center. The origins of the entrepot are traced to the commercial behavior of ancient societies. Traders entering foreign territory were exposed to numerous natural and cultural hazards. […]

energy geography

ENERGY GEOGRAPHY IS a subdiscipline of geography that draws from many philosophical and thematic traditions, but it is primarily positioned in the interface of environmental and economic concerns. The extraction, harnessing, and consumption of the natural resources that supply society with our energy needs have always been central to economic activities. Over time, however, it […]


AN ENCLAVE is a political unit that is completely enclosed within a foreign territory. It is called an “exclave” from the perspective of the country that has sovereignty over it. An enclave can also exist on a subnational level when a subdivision has land outside its parent territory. The enclaves can be created for geological, […]


ELEVATION CAN BE defined as a measure of the height above mean sea level. When specifying a location on (or above) the surface of the Earth, elevation is commonly considered to be the third coordinate, complementing measures of LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE. Similarly, bathymetric measurements provide a depth below mean sea level to the floor of […]

electoral geography

ELECTORAL GEOGRAPHY is a part of POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY. It is the geographical study of political space in democratic states. Electoral research in dictatorships can be useful although, their citizens are not really freely choosing. Electoral geography is therefore a special study of electoral processes and districts to map election results and then to test the […]

Elburz Mountains

THE ELBURZ (or Alborz) Mountains are a narrow mountain range that curve along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea in the north of IRAN. From west to east, the range measures about 600 mi or 970 km long. The Elburz range forms a climatic barrier between the Caspian and the Central Iranian Plateau. The […]

Elbrus, Mount

MOUNT ELBRUS IS the highest point in Europe, at 18,513 ft (5,642 m). It is the central peak of the CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS range, located 6.8 mi (11 km) north of the main ridge that forms the boundary between GEORGIA and RUSSIA, thus placing the mountain within Europe, since the traditional dividing line between Asia and […]

El Salvador

Area 8,108 square mi (21,000 square km) Population 6.384 million 2014 Capital San Salvador Highest Point 8,956 ft (2,730 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $25.22 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coffee, sugar, corn, rice, beans. THE REPUBLIC of El Salvador is located on the PACIFIC OCEAN in Central America, between GUATEMALA and HONDURAS. It […]

El Nino and La Nina

EL NINO AND La Nina are parts of global weather systems that recur every two to seven years. An El Nino, which usually lasts 12 to 18 months, is characterized by warm winters and wet springs in North America, a lessening of monsoonal rains in Asia, and droughts affecting Africa and the south PACIFIC OCEAN. […]


Area 622,272 square mi (1,001,450 square km) Population 83.39 million (2014) Capital Cairo Highest Point 8,625 ft (2,629 m) Lowest Point -436 ft (-133 m) GDP $286.5 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources cotton, rice, corn. EGYPT HAS BEEN a unified state for more than 5,000 years and is one of humanity's oldest civilizations of great […]


Area 109,483 square mi (283,560 square km) Population 15.98 million 2014 Capital Quito Highest Point 20,561 ft (6,267 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $100.5 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, fish, timber, hydropower. ECUADOR IS A SMALL country located on the west coast of South America. The equator crosses the country, thus giving Ecuador […]


THE ECONOMIC COMMUNITY of West African States (ECOWAS), also known in French as Communaute Economique des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO), was first formally set out at the Monrovia Group meeting in April 1968. By the Treaty of Lagos, 15 representatives from West African states formed ECOWAS in Lagos, NIGERIA, on May 28, 1975. […]


THE CONCEPT OF the ecosystem began with the establishment of the science of ecology which is credited to Ernst Haekel, a German zoologist who coined the term ecology in 1869. He based this term on the Greek word oikos, meaning “a place in which to live.” It was another 60 years before the term ecosystem […]

economic geography

KNOWLEDGE OF ECONOMIC geography was first essentially descriptive, with a focus on the REGION and its economy, demography, and social characteristics. It represented the typical approach in research agenda in North America and Western Europe. The birth of economic geography dates from the age of European exploration, with an expansion in commercial geography from the […]


ECOLOGY IS THE study of the interaction between an organism and its physical environment. Human ecology specifically focuses on humans as a group of organisms and their mutual relationships within the habitat. The term ecology has its origin in two ancient Greek words: oikos (house or habitat) and logia (words or teaching). Thus, the concept […]

ecological niches

IN CONTEMPORARY ecology, the term ecological niches is referred to as the position occupied by representatives of any life form (usually alive) in biocenosis, and, at the same time, the smallest unit of a habitat that is occupied by an organism. The notion reflects an organism's or species's place in the community, taking into account […]

Easter Island

POLITICALLY, EASTER ISLAND has belonged to CHILE since 1888, though it lies some 2,200 mi (3,500 km) west of the coast of Chile and just south of the TROPIC OF CAPRICORN in the PACIFIC OCEAN. Its nearest neighbor is PITCAIRN ISLAND 1,132 mi (1,819 km) to the west. The major settlement is Hanga Roa. Easter […]

East Timor

Area 5,853 square mi (15,007 square km) Population 1.212 million 2014 Capital Dili Highest Point 9,778 ft (2,963 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $1.552 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble. THE ISLAND OF Timor, in the Indonesian archipelagos, is no stranger to struggle. Disputed between the Dutch and Portuguese […]


STRONG GROUND motion occurs whenever energy, conserved as strain in the Earth's crust or upper mantle, is released instantaneously. In such an event, commonly called an earthquake, energy radiates from the source of release in a series of waves. As waves propagate through rock and other elastic media, they cause periodic displacements (movements up and […]


DUNES ARE PILES of windblown sediment. Geomorphologists refer to dunes and other wind-created features as aeolian landforms. (Aeolus was the ancient Greek god of the winds.) Geomorphologists also refer to dunes as sand dunes, as sand is the most common type of sediment in the deposits. Dunes sometimes include sand-size aggregates of clay, gypsum, or […]

Drakensberg Mountains

THE DRAKENSBERG Mountains form one of the most scenic natural areas in SOUTH AFRICA. The mountain range straddles the eastern border of LESOTHO, a LANDLOCKED nation lying within the boundaries of South Africa, located about 150 mi (250 km) northwest of Durban. The name Drakensberg means “Dragon Mountains” in Afrikaans. The range is also known […]

Don River

THE DON RIVER IS one of RUSSIA's major commercial rivers, which, connected to the VOLGA through the 65-mi (105-km) Volga-Don Canal, allows river traffic to sail from Russia's interior ports as far inland as MOSCOW to ports on the BLACK SEA and beyond to the MEDITERRANEAN. The Don River basin also includes its most important […]

domino theory

THE DOMINO THEORY states that if one vital country in a region falls to an expansionist negative philosophy, then other countries in the region similarly situated and similarly structured would fall victim to the same philosophy, either through force or through influence of example. In its pure form, the negative philosophy is communism but in […]

Dominican Republic

Area 20,729 square mi (48,730 square km) Population 10.53 million 2014 Capital Santo Domingo Highest Point 10,416 ft (3,175 m) Lowest Point 151 ft (46 m) GDP $63.97 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources nickel, gold, silver. THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, which sits on the western portion of the island of Hispaniola in the CARIBBEAN SEA, was […]


Area 294 square mi (754 square km) Population 72,340 2014 Capital Roseau Highest Point Morne Diablatins 4,775 ft (1,447 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $537.8 million 2014 Primary Natural Resources timber, hydropower. THE LAST OF THE islands of the West Indies to be colonized, chiefly because of the fierce resistance of the native Carib […]


Area 8,958 square mi (23,000 square km) Population 886,300 (2014) Capital Djibouti Highest Point Musa Ali 6,653 ft (2,028 m) Lowest Point -550 ft (-168 m) GDP $1.582 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources negligible. BORDERED BY ETHIOPIA, ERITREA, and SOMALIA in Africa, the country of Djibouti (the former French Somaliland and then AFARS and Issas) […]


EMPLOYING THE GEOGRAPHIC sense of the term, distance can be defined as the amount of separation between two points or objects on the surface of the Earth. Geographic distance is usually expressed as a linear measurement between locations using one of several commonly accepted metrics (a metric is a standard of measurement using associated units). […]


DIRECTION IS DEFINED as the line or course on which something is moving, or at which it is aimed to move, or toward which something is pointing or facing. Direction is commonly referenced as an angle made by a given line with an axis of reference, that is up, down, right, left, and so on. […]


DIFFUSION IS the spread of a phenomenon, such as an idea, a technological innovation, or a disease, over space and time. The origins of interest in diffusion in geography can be traced back to the work of the German geographer Frederick Ratzel (1844–1904). In the second volume of his highly influential Anthropogeographie, Ratzel described the […]


DHAKA BECAME the capital of the newly formed sovereign state of BANGLADESH in 1971. The city has a tropical monsoon climate with heavy summer rainfall (June through September), about 80 in (203 cm) annually. Summer is hot and humid and winter is dry and mild. It is located on a tributary of the Meghna-GANGES river […]


DETERMINISM (from the Latin determino, meaning “define”) is a basic philosophical theory about general interdependence and interconditionality of phenomena and processes. This idea was explained for the first time in ancient natural philosophy (atomistic ideas, peripathetic school), in notions about primary origins and elements. Later, it was developed by Persian poet Omar Khayyam, Italian naturalist […]


SINCE THE mid-1970s, the United Nations (UN) has considered desertification a significant environmental problem involving high economic, societal, and human costs. The UN's Conference on Desertification, held in 1977, outlined an action plan over a 20-year period that, unfortunately, did little to change the course of desertification. The definition of desertification itself is controversial. In […]


THERE IS A TENDENCY, in popular opinion and some public policy, to view deserts dismissively as unproductive wastelands. The 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica made the case with exuberant eloquence: “Desert, a term popularly applied to any environmentally extreme, deserted, desolate, uninhabitable waste area.” While they are indeed less productive of biomass than other […]


Area 16,807 square mi (43,094 square km) Population 5.640 million 2014 Capital Copenhagen Highest Point 571 ft (173 m) Lowest Point -23 ft (-7 m) GDP $342.0 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, fish, salt. DENMARK IS A COUNTRY whose history and culture is almost entirely shaped by the sea. With a coastline […]


DEMOGRAPHY IS THE study of populations (a term used to denote the collection of persons alive at a particular point in time and who meet certain criteria). Demographics have to do with population statistics. Usually referred to as a census, most often these data are collected through a survey process and by public agencies at […]


A DELTA IS AN AREA of land that has been built up at the mouth of a river, where it flows into a quiet body of water, such as a lake or an ocean. The delta is formed when the river, which is moving swiftly and carrying sediment such as mud, slows down to enter […]

Delmarva Peninsula

THE 5,940-square-mi (15,384 square km) Delmarva Peninsula is located in the mid-Atlantic area of the UNITED STATES and borders the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay and the ATLANTIC OCEAN. The historic importance of the area is that it formed an important political and social demarcation between the North and the South of the United States: […]


DELAWARE IS ONE OF the Middle Atlantic states of the UNITED STATES. It is also the country's second smallest state after RHODE ISLAND, covering 2,057 square mi (5,328 square km) within the DELMARVA PENINSULA. It is bordered by MARYLAND on the west and south, NEW JERSEY to the northeast across the Delaware Bay and Delaware […]

Deccan Plateau

LOCATED IN INDIA, in the southern part of the peninsula south of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the Deccan Plateau can be considered the cultural and historical heart of India, defining the subcontinent. The great epic poems of the Vedas tell of the coming of the Aryan-speaking peoples that dominate all of northern Indian today. However, the […]

Dead Sea

THE DEAD SEA IS a 390-square-mi (1,010-squarekm) salt lake located on the borders of PALESTINE, ISRAEL, and JORDAN. It is the lowest water point in the world, and its coast, at 1,292 ft below sea level (-395 m), is the lowest dry point on Earth. The lake is divided into two unequal parts by el-Lisan […]

Davis, William M. (1850–1934)

WILLIAM DAVIS WAS among the leading geographers of the early part of the 20th century. Today, Davis might be more narrowly considered a geomorphologist based on his major research interests. But in his time, Davis enjoyed considerable influence over the direction and conduct of geographical science, in the UNITED STATES and in Europe. Born to […]

Darien Gap

STRADDLING THE BORDER of the republics of PANAMA and COLOMBIA, the Darien Gap is home to one of the least exploited and most diverse ecosystems in the world. Flanked by the PACIFIC OCEAN to the north and west and the CARIBBEAN SEA to the east, the area includes two national parks, Darien National Park in Panama […]

Danubian Gates

FOR CENTURIES, traffic along the DANUBE RIVER was hindered by a stretch of treacherous rocks and narrow gorges at the point at which the river cut through the Southern Carpathian mountain range. This stretch, about 62 mi (100 km) in length, along the border of ROMANIA and Yugoslavia (SERBIA), is known as the Danubian or […]

Danube River

THE DANUBE RIVER IS the longest river in western Europe, surpassed in Europe as a whole only by the VOLGA in RUSSIA. Fourteen countries are drained by its watershed, covering over 312,000 square mi (800,000 square km): GERMANY, AUSTRIA (and small parts of eastern SWITZERLAND), the CZECH REPUBLIC, SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY (and a small corner of […]


DAMASCUS (in Arabic, “Dimashq”) is the capital and chief city of SYRIA, with a population of 1.7 million people (2002). The ancient city is also known in Arabic as “as-Sham” meaning “the Northern,” indicating its geographical position north of the traditional Arab homelands. Damascus is situated in the Ghutah Oasis on a plateau 2,263 ft […]

Czech Republic

Area 30,450 square mi (78,866 square km) Population 10.51 million 2014 Capital Prague Highest Point 5,256 ft (1,602 m) Lowest Point 377 ft (115 m) GDP $205.5 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources graphite, coal, timber. THE CZECH REPUBLIC consists of the two historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia. The Czech Republic borders SLOVAKIA to the […]


Area 3,604 square mi (9,250 square km) Population 1.153 million 2014 Capital Nicosia Highest Point 6,407 ft (1,951 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $23.23 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources copper, pyrites, asbestos. CYPRUS IS AN island in the eastern MEDITERRANEAN SEA, 70 mi (113 km) south of TURKEY. For thousands of years, its civilization […]


CYCLONES ARE HAZARDOUS weather conditions distinguished by extreme blasts of wind moving in a circular pattern. Cyclones generally appear over tropical waters; however, some are able to reach land, where they inflict significant damage on buildings and communities. Cyclones can be placed into categories such as hurricane (Western Hemisphere) and typhoon (Eastern Hemisphere). The categorization […]

cultural geography

CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY IS a subdiscipline of HUMAN GEOGRAPHY. The founding father of cultural geography in North America is Carl Ortwin SAUER, and most of the research in cultural geography from the 1920s to the beginning of the 1980s was carried out by cultural geographers walking in the footsteps of Sauer and the so-called Berkeley School. […]


Area 68,885 square mi (110,860 square km) Population 11.26 million 2014 Capital Havana Highest Point 6,578 ft (2,005 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $77.15 billion 2013 Primary Natural Resources sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice. CUBA, THE 15th largest island in world, is part of the West Indies in the CARIBBEAN SEA. This island, which […]


Area 22,000 square mi (56,542 square km) Population 4.236 million 2014 Capital Zagreb Highest Point Dinara 604 ft (1,830 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $57.22 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources oil, coal, bauxite, hydropower. CROATIA IS AT once one of the oldest and newest states in Europe. There has been a Croatian state of […]

Cote d’Ivoire

Area 124,501 square mi (322,460 square km) Population 20.80 million (2014) Capital Yamoussoukro Highest Point 5,748 ft (1,752 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $34.25 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese. COTE D'IVOIRE (Ivory Coast) is bordered by MALI and BURKINA FASO on the north, by LIBERIA and GUINEA on the […]

Costa Rica

Area 19,729 square mi (51,100 square km) Population 4.938 million 2014 Capital San Jose Highest Point 12,500 ft (3,810 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $49.55 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coffee, bananas, agricultural products. THE REPUBLIC OF Costa Rica, home to almost 3.9 million people, is located in Central America between NICARAGUa and PANAMA […]

core and periphery

CORE AND PERIPHERY are terms used in geographic models to describe areas of differing economic production and political power and can be applied to both intra- and interstate variations. Core areas are described as the engines of economic growth and are characterized by modern, technologically advanced production methods as well as highly skilled and highwage […]

Cook Islands

PART OF NEW ZEALAND, the Cook Islands consist of 15 islands in the south PACIFIC OCEAN, about halfway between HAWAII and NEW ZEALAND. They are about the same size as RHODE ISLAND. The islands are scattered over an area of more than 706,566 square mi (1.83 million square km). The nine islands in the southern […]


THE EARTH IS AN ocean-dominated planet. Only one-third of the planet's surface is dry land. The Earth's land areas include innumerable islands and several larger expanses of land termed continents. A continent is defined as a mass of land significantly larger than an island, completely or nearly surrounded by ocean water. By common agreement among […]


CONTINENTALITY IS A climatic effect that results from a continental interior being insulated from oceanic influences. Winds and air masses of moderate temperature that originate over oceans move onshore to diminish differences in winter and summer temperatures in coastal areas of continents. Interiors of continents are too distant to experience the moderating effect. As a […]

continental shelf

A CONTINENTAL SHELF is the submerged top of the continent's edge, lying between the shoreline and the continental slope that forms a border to a continent. In other words, the surface of the Earth lies at two general levels: a lower, which is the floor of the ocean basins, and an upper, the parts of […]

continental drift

CONTINENTAL DRIFT INVOLVES large-scale horizontal movements of continents relative to one another and to the ocean basins during one or more episodes of geologic time. The hypothesis of large-scale movement or displacement of continents has a long history. About 1800, Alexander von Humboldt, a German naturalist, noted the apparent fit of the bulge of eastern South […]


CONTAINMENT IS a political concept that served as the muted geopolitical battle cry for the UNITED STATES in the four decades of the Cold War (1947–89). It was first articulated in an embassy report from a young diplomat in Moscow dated February 22, 1946. In the “long telegram” George F. Kennan laid out a philosophical […]


CONNECTICUT IS the southernmost of the New England states in the northeastern UNITED STATES and has borders with MASSACHUSETTS in the north, NEW YORK in the west, and RHODE ISLAND to the east. There is also a very small area in the very northeast corner where Massachusetts extends south creating an eastern border. To the […]

Congo River

FROM ITS SOURCE on a savanna PLATEAU just south of Lake TANGANIKA, the Congo River flows some 2,880 mi (4,630 km) through equatorial africa before eventually emptying into the ATLANTIC OCEAN. While no other major river in the world transects the equator even once, the Congo River twice crosses the equator in its journey to […]

Congo, Democratic Republic of

Area 905,563 square mi (2,345,410 square km) Population 69.36 million (2014) Capital Kinshasha Highest Point 16,765 ft (5,110 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $32.96 billion (2014) Natural Resources diamonds, gold, silver, tin, bauxite. THE DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo (DRC) is strategically located as the geographic centerpiece of Africa. Smaller in area than only SUDAN […]


Area 132,047 square mi (342,000 square km) Population 4.559 million (2014) Capital Brazzaville Highest Point 2,963 ft (903 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $14.14 billion (2014) Primary Natural Resources petroleum, wood, potassium, potash, gold. THE REPUBLIC OF Congo is located in western Africa and covers an area slightly smaller than MONTANA. It is bordered […]

computer mapping

COMPUTER MAPPING IS the general term used to describe the process of developing digital maps from aerial photographs, satellite images, global positioning systems (GPS) records, paper maps, and other archival data sources. GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS) are currently the most common implementation of computer mapping systems. A GIS consists of an organized collection of computer […]


Area 846 square mi (2,170 square km) Population 752,400 (2014) Capital Moroni Highest Point Le Kartala 7,788 ft (2,360m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $647.7 million (2014) Natural Resources tourism, arable land, agriculrural products. COMOROS IS ONE of the world's poorest, and also most politically unstable countries. Located off the east coast of Africa, at the northern end of the […]

commercial agriculture

PRIOR TO THE FIRST AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION, people relied on hunting and gathering to obtain food supplies. The agricultural revolution began as the individuals in the society began to cultivate soil, plant seeds, and use plows and animals to assist with the cultivation of the soil. This change from a hunting and gathering society did not […]


COLORADO IS ONE of the Rocky Mountain states located in the west-central part of the UNITED STATES. All of Colorado is more than 3,300 ft (1,000 m) above sea level. With an average elevation of 6,800 ft (2,070 m), Colorado is the highest of all the states. Colorado is a Spanish word meaning “reddish colored” […]


FROM THE ONSET of trade, the merchant traders established colonies in the foreign places where they did business. Those early merchant colonies were not colonialist in the strict sense. The merchants resided in foreign cities by the grace of the city officials. More commonly, colonialists dominated the indigenous peoples. The Greeks and Romans established military […]


Area 439,735 square mi (1,138,910 square km) Population 48.93 million 2014 Capital Bogota Highest Point 18,947 ft (5,775 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $377.7 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore. COLOMBIA IS A country located in northwestern South America. Named for Christopher Columbus, it is the only South American […]

Cocos Islands

THE COCOS (or Keeling) Islands are a dependency of AUSTRALIA located in the INDIAN OCEAN, about 1,675 mi (2,700 km) northwest of Perth, and 620 mi (1,000 km) southwest of JAVA, INDONESIA. Unlike the volcanic peak of their closest neighbor, CHRISTMAS ISLAND, 560 mi (900 km) to the northeast, the Cocos Islands consist of two flat coral atolls, roughly 15.5 mi […]

coastal zone

THE COASTAL ZONE is where nature breathes its essence into poets and painters. Ancient Greeks believed it was where Neptune's energy encounters land. People living in the UNITED STATES call this transition between land and sea the shore, coast, or beach. Robert Gabler et al., define the coastal zone as “the dynamic region on land […]

climate classification

CLIMATE IS an average or aggregate of daily weather conditions over a period of years. Latitude, distance from oceans, atmospheric and oceanic circulation pattern, elevation, and local geographical features control the climate of a place. The controls of climate result in a plethora of interrelated elements of climate, ranging from temperature, pressure, wind, humidity, clouds, […]


THE TERM climate refers to the long-term averages of insolation (solar radiation absorbed by Earth), temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, air masses, atmospheric pressure, winds, and cloud coverage. Of these, temperature and precipitation are the most important factors in establishing climate type. A place may have rain on one day, clear conditions for a week, and […]

civilizations, early river

Early river valley civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, EGYPT, the INDUS RIVER Valley, and CHINA. Earlier agricultural societies (8,000 to 13,000 years ago) were largely subsistence cultures. The river civilizations had food enough to provide for classes of people other than just farmers. These societies all used agricultural surpluses to establish civilizations with cities and trade and […]


A CITY-STATE IS AN independent political entity composed of a large and important town and surrounding countryside. In ancient times, city-states, such as the Greek city-states and Rome, sometimes became great economic and military powers that secured far-flung empires, thereby imposing their will and culture on other civilizations. In late medieval and Renaissance ITALY, powerful […]

city types

CITIES ARE INFLUENCED by a broad variety of contexts and factors, including particular groups of people. As a consequence of numerous influences, the city may, to some extent, specialize in and be characterized as being of a particular type. To refer to people and government regimes, for example, a number of particular city types can […]

Christmas Island

CHRISTMAS ISLAND IS AN isolated island in the INDIAN OCEAN, located about 220 mi (360 km) southwest of JAVA, INDONESIA, and 1,400 mi (2,300 km) northwest of AUSTRALIA, to which it belongs as a dependency. Maintained chiefly as a phosphate-mining colony since the 19th century, it is now being developed as a tropical island holiday […]

Christaller, Walter (1893–1969)

A GERMAN geographer, Walter Christaller helped bring quantitative and statistical disciplines to the study of geography. Christaller was born in Berneck, GERMANY; his father was a clergyman and his mother an author. Before 1914, he attended university in Heidelberg and in Munich. He enlisted during World War I, and became an officer. Returning after the […]

choke point

A CHOKE POINT IS ANY narrow passage that restricts traffic. It literally connotes a location where the flow could be choked off. As a military term, it refers to areas in lines of sea, ground, air or space communications (physical travel) that restrict freedom of movement by slowing and confining. This allows an adversary to […]


Area 3,645,468 square mi (9,596,960 square km) Population 1.364 billion 2014 Capital Beijing Highest Point 29,035 ft (8,850 m) Lowest Point -505 ft (-154 m) GDP $10.36 trillion 2014 Primary Natural Resources coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas. CHINA IS ONE of the largest countries in the world, with more than 3.6 million square mi (9.6 […]


Area 302,778 square mi (756,950 square km) Population 17.77 million 2014 Capital Santiago Highest Point 22,573 ft (6,880 m) Lowest Point 0 m GDP $258.1 billion 2014 Primary Natural Resources copper, fish, agricultural products. CHILE IS A LONG and narrow country in South America, about 3,999 mi (6,435 km) long and an average of 112 […]