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Encyclopedic entry. A region is an area of land that has common features. A region can be defined by natural or artificial features.


6 - 12+


Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

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Morgan Stanley

A region is an area of land that has common features. A region can be defined by natural or artificial features. Language, government, or religion can define a region, as can forests, wildlife, or climate.

Regions, large or small, are the basic units of geography. The Middle East is considered a political, environmental, and religious region that includes parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The region is in a hot, dry climate. Although the styles of government are varied (democracy in Israel and Syria, monarchy in Saudi Arabia), almost all of them have strong ties to religion. The region is where three of the worlds major religions were founded: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

The Amazon River region in South America is the area surrounding the Amazon River, which runs through the northern part of the continent, including Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. This region is characterized by warm temperatures, heavy rainfall, a large diversity of plant and animal species, and little human impact on the environment.

Geographers also use regions to study prehistoric environments that no longer exist. Due to plate tectonics, or the movement of the Earths crust, geographic regions are constantly being created and destroyed over time. Paleogeography is the study of these ancient environments.

One paleogeographic region is Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed millions of years ago, during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. The continents we know today split apart from the supercontinent of Pangaea.

Regions of the United States

There are many different ways to divide the United States into regions. The Library of Congress lists 16:
Atlantic States: All states that border the Atlantic Ocean, from Maine to Florida
East: All states east of the Mississippi River
Middle Atlantic States: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Middle West or Midwest: from the Rocky Mountains to the Allegheny Mountains; Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Northeast: east of the Mississippi River, north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin.
Northwest: states between Lake Superior and the Pacific Ocean: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming.
Pacific Northwest: Old Oregon country: Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming.
Pacific States: All states that border the Pacific Ocean: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington.
Rocky Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming.
South Atlantic: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia.
South: States south of the Mason-Dixon Line: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia.
New Southwest: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
Old Southwest: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas
Southwest: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah.
West: All states west of the Mississippi River.

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Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel
Santani Teng
Hilary Hall
Tara Ramroop
Erin Sprout
Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau
Hilary Costa
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

July 15, 2022

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