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US Geography - Vocabulary

Vocabulary for middle school Social Studies

altitudethe height of a place above sea level
basinan area of low land surrounded by higher land
baypart of an ocean, sea, or lake, that entends into the land
boundarymarking a limit or edge of something
canala narrow waterway dug for boat travel
cardinal directionsdirections: north, south, east, west
climatethe weather at a specific place over a period of years
conservationthe protection and wise use of land and natural resources
continentone of the 7 main land areas on earth (North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica
deserta very dry area where few plants grow
distribution mapa map representing how things such as vegetation are spread over an area
environmentthe surroundings in which people, plants, and animals live
equatorthe starting line for measuring latitude; the latitude of the equator is 0 degrees
geographythe study of the earth and the way people live on it and use it
glaciera thin sheet of ice
globea scale model of the Earth that represents area, size, and shape of physical features, and distance between points
grida network of horizontal and vertical lines used to locate points on a map
harbora sheltered area of water where ships can anchor safely
hemispherehalf of a sphere; northern, southern, eastern, western
historical mapa map that shows something about the past and where past events took place
intermediate directionsthe directions midway between north, south, east, west (e.g., southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast)
islandan area of land completely surrounded by water
keya ist of the symbols on a map or chart (e.g., legend)
lakea large body of water surrounded by land on all sides
landthe ground/soil of the Earth's surface
landformfeatures of the Earth's surface (e.g., plains, mountains, deserts, etc.)
landmarkan object or feature that marks a place or important event
landslidethe sliding of soil and rock down a slope
latitudeimaginary line that measures distance north and south of the equator
legenda list of symbols on a map or chart (e.g., key)
longitudeimaginary line that measures distance east and west of the prime meridian
mapa graphic representation of a portion of Earth drawn on a flat surface
mountaina raised part of the earth, larger than a hill
mouththe opening of a river
oasisa place in a desert with water
oceanone of 4 main bodies of water (e.g., Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Arctic Ocean)
peakthe top of a hill or mountain
peninsulaa land area almost surrounded by water
physical mapa map representing the natural features of the earth, such as lakes, rivers, mountains, and deserts
plainsan area of flat land
plateauan area of flat land that is higher than the surrounding land
political mapa map representing political divisions, such as national or state boundaries, important cities, and capitals
populationthe number of people living in a space
population mapa map representing population changes or trends
prime meridianthe starting line for measuring longitude. The longitude of the prime meridian is 0 degrees
produce mapa map representing the most important goods that are produced in an area
provincethe division of a country (e.g., Canada)
rainforesta warm, wet area where many trees and plants grow closely together
rangea series of mountains
regionan area with one or more common characteristics or features that make it different from surrounding areas
resource mapa map representing the resources in an area
resourcessomething that is ready for use
rivera natural stream of water flowing into a larger body of water (e.g., lake, ocean)
routesa road or course for traveling
ruralliving in the country
scalethe relationship between the distances on a map that correspond to the actual distances
statethe division of a country (e.g., the United States has 50 states)
surburbana town on the outer limits of a city
thematic mapa map representing a specific spatial distribution, theme, or topic (e.g., population, climate)
tributarya stream or river that flows into a larger river
tundraa huge frozen plain
urbanregarding a city
valleylow land lying between mountains or hills
vegetationplant life
volcanoan opening in the earth through which melted rock, ashes, and gas are forced out
worldall of the earth

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