Natural regions of the world – Concept, types and characteristics

We explain what are the natural regions of the world and what are the orographic, climatic and phytogeographic natural regions.

natural regions of the world
Natural regions can be determined according to different criteria.

What are the natural regions of the world?

In geography, a natural region is an area of ​​the earth’s surface that has its own, homogeneous and distinctive physical characteristics, such as relief, climate, hydrography, vegetation, the nature of the soil and other similar elements. Seen this way, the entire world comprises a set of identifiable natural regions.

Now, the classification of the natural regions of our planet depends on the type of physical characteristics that we take into account, which generally tend to be the following:

  • Orographic regions, if we take into account the relief of the region.
  • Climatic regions, if what is considered is the prevailing climate.
  • Phytogeographic regions, if what we consider is the majority type of vegetation.

We will see each of these categories separately below.

See also: Continental regions

Orographic natural regions

orographic natural regions of the world
In mountainous regions the terrain can reach several kilometers in height.

Considering the relief of the regions, that is, the type of terrain accidents that predominate in it, we can talk about:

  • Mountain regions, in which the great elevations of the terrain predominate, being able to reach several kilometers in height and covering different climatic bands, due to the effect of the change in height. Examples of these regions are: the South American Andean region, the European Alps region, the Himalayan region in Asia, etc.
  • Plateau regions, characterized by elevations of the land devoid of top, but have a plain at the top. These plateaus may be more or less high, and may or may not be part of mountain ranges and mountain complexes. Examples of these regions are: Venezuelan Guiana, the Andean highlands, the Tibetan plateau, etc.
  • Hill regions, that is to say, of not very pronounced undulations of the land and of very little height. Examples of these regions are: the Midlands region of England, the Lisbon region in Portugal or the Connors Hills in Australia.
  • Plains or plains regions, in which the terrain is simply flat, flat, without elevations. Many times these plains can be depressions, that is, plains below sea level, or they can also be found at the top of mountain ranges, as in the great plateaus. Examples of these regions are: the Great North American Plain, the Great Central European Plains, the Argentine pampas, etc.

Natural climatic regions

natural regions of the world climatic
The climatic variants depend to a great extent on the terrestrial latitude.

If instead of the relief we observe the climate of each of the regions, we will notice that the climatic variants depend to a great extent on the Earth’s latitude, since the movement of the planet tends to create more or less homogeneous bands of temperature and atmospheric pressure, which they are called climatic zones. These are:

The tropical zone (0 ° to -23.5 ° latitude N and S). Located in the equatorial region, that is, above and below the equator, extending to the beginning of the tropics, it is the warmest and wettest area on the planet, since solar radiation affects directly and vertically all year round, generating greater evaporation of water. Lacking seasons, it usually presents a rainy season and a dry season.

In this strip the following climatic regions are presented:

  • Humid tropical climate, with abundant rains and continuous heat throughout the year, or at least for almost nine and a half months.
  • Semi-humid climate, with abundant rains between 9 and 7 months a year, or between 7 and 4 months a year, depending on its geography. The rest of the year tends to drought.
  • Semi-arid climate, with a tendency to drought, as it presents rainfall between 4 and 2 months a year, thus tending to desertification.
  • Dry weather, typical of desert and xerophilic areas, presents between 2 and 0 months of rain per year.

The subtropical zone (23.5 ° to 40 ° latitude N and S). Located in the next strip, below and above the line of the tropics, it is an intermediate strip that has hot summers in which the solar radiation is intense, and humid and cool winters with less radiation. Due to the action of the winds, it is a much less humid area, which is why it contains the vast majority of deserts.

The climatic regions of this strip are the following:

  • Dry subtropical climate, which tends to be arid throughout the year, but receives abundant rains in winter, it is a climate with a lot of solar presence.
  • Humid subtropical climate, better known as the Mediterranean climate (because it is characteristic of the coasts of that sea), it is a very stable climate with hot summers and cool, humid winters, considered among the best climates in the world.
  • Subtropical climate always humid, also called the eastern climate (because it abounds in the Asian regions), presents its maximum rainfall in the summer, making it hot and humid, while the winter is dry and cold.

The temperate zone (40 ° to 60 ° latitude N and S). It has average temperatures much colder than in the tropics, since it receives solar radiation in a much more oblique and partial way. In this region the seasons present their characteristic differentiation and differ markedly from each other throughout the year. Its characteristic climates are much more uniform in terms of annual precipitation and are as follows:

  • Typical temperate climate, with hot summers and cold winters, being able to reach frost. Humidity depends on the hydrographic presence in the region, and otherwise they tend to relative drought (400mm per year).
  • Subhumid temperate climate, also called tropical altitude, has rainy summers and dry winters, and is typical of the mountainous regions, the Indian Ganges or the monsoon regions of Asia.
  • Humid temperate climate, typical of the middle latitudes and presents humidity and rains throughout the year, due to its proximity to the sea. It has the least difference in climates between day and night and between summer and winter, due to its large amount of humidity.
  • Oceanic climate, also called maritime or British, is typical of the islands and regions near the sea in the temperate band with a lot of wind, so it has a large amount of annual precipitation and an oscillation of 10 ° between cold winters and cool summers.

The polar zone or cold (60 ° to 90 ° latitude N and S). It is the coldest climate zone on the planet, since solar radiation hits almost at ground level. In them are the respective planetary poles, covered with eternal ice, and in general they include dry and icy climates, called polar climates.

Phytogeographic natural regions

natural regions of the world phytogeographic
In the savannah there are grasslands of grasses that when the drought arrives they turn yellowish.

Considering the constitution of the predominant vegetation on the planet’s surface, we can distinguish between the phytogeographic regions, which have a notorious importance in the economy and in biology. These regions are:

  • Scrub, Typical dry climate regions, whose plants are usually thorny, small in size and with thick green leaves. Xerophytic flora and species with deep and long roots are also present. Some typical species of the region are carob, rosemary, thyme, fig, olive, almond, cardón, cují, among others.
  • ChaparralesAs regions of dry climate in summer and cold in winter, it is an ecosystem of heaths, shrubs and short-lived plants, with seeds adapted to extreme temperatures and deep roots. The vegetation tends to be rather sparse, very sparse.
  • Bed sheets, Typical regions of intertropical plains with summer rains, in which the vegetation forms long grasslands of grasses that turn yellowish as the drought arrives. They are typical regions of extensive agriculture (sugar cane, rice, corn, cotton, etc.) and grassland livestock.
  • Forests, Adapted to different temperate and subtropical climates, they are regions in which trees of medium and high height predominate, with thick trunks and deciduous leaves, so the soil tends to be covered with decomposing organic matter. They can be more or less leafy and more or less thick, depending on the climatic and humidity conditions, and are usually very conducive to logging.
  • Wet jungle, Regions with a humid and warm climate, have abundant and exuberant vegetation, with several plant floors, in which a significant percentage of the planet’s biodiversity is housed. Tall trees with many branches abound, with evergreen and leafy leaves, as well as climbing plants, parasites and epiphytes.