Geography & Travel

Planet Earth contains some extraordinarily diverse environments, some of which are easily habitable and some not so much. In different areas of Earth, one might find sweltering deserts, dense tropical rainforests, or bone-chilling tundras. Each biome and habitat comes with its own selection of flora and fauna, and it may include physical features such as canyons, volcanoes, rivers, or caves. Human beings have built homes in many different environments, settling the area and organizing it into units such as cities, states, regions, and countries, each with its own points of interest. Shifting trends in human migration have resulted in a human geography that is profoundly different from that of centuries ago.

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  • Europe
    Europe
    Europe, second smallest of the world’s continents, composed of the westward-projecting peninsulas of Eurasia (the great landmass that it shares with Asia) and occupying nearly one-fifteenth of the world’s total land area. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the west by the Atlantic…
  • President-elect Barack Obama waving to the crowd at a massive election night rally in Chicago's Grant Park on Nov. 4, 2008. With him are (from left) his daughters, Sasha and Malia, and his wife, Michelle.
    African Americans
    African Americans, one of the largest of the many ethnic groups in the United States. African Americans are mainly of African ancestry, but many have nonblack ancestors as well. African Americans are largely the descendants of slaves—people who were brought from their African homelands by force to…
  • Asia
    Asia
    Asia, the world’s largest and most diverse continent. It occupies the eastern four-fifths of the giant Eurasian landmass. Asia is more a geographic term than a homogeneous continent, and the use of the term to describe such a vast area always carries the potential of obscuring the enormous…
  • Navajo Supreme Court justices questioning counsel during a hearing.
    Native American
    Native American, member of any of the aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere, although the term often connotes only those groups whose original territories were in present-day Canada and the United States. Pre-Columbian Americans used technology and material culture that included fire and the…
  • Stalactites and stalagmites in the Queen's Chamber, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, southeastern New Mexico.
    Cave
    Cave, natural opening in the earth large enough for human exploration. Such a cavity is formed in many types of rock and by many processes. The largest and most common caves are those formed by chemical reaction between circulating groundwater and bedrock composed of limestone or dolomite. These…
  • Australia
    Australia
    Australia, the smallest continent and one of the largest countries on Earth, lying between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia’s capital is Canberra, located in the southeast between the larger and more important economic and cultural centres of Sydney and Melbourne.…
  • Lake Ann in North Cascades National Park, Washington
    Lake
    Lake, any relatively large body of slowly moving or standing water that occupies an inland basin of appreciable size. Definitions that precisely distinguish lakes, ponds, swamps, and even rivers and other bodies of nonoceanic water are not well established. It may be said, however, that rivers and…
  • Major divisions of the Austronesian languages.
    Austronesian languages
    Austronesian languages, family of languages spoken in most of the Indonesian archipelago; all of the Philippines, Madagascar, and the island groups of the Central and South Pacific (except for Australia and much of New Guinea); much of Malaysia; and scattered areas of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and…
  • satyr
    Ancient Italic people
    Ancient Italic people, any of the peoples diverse in origin, language, traditions, stage of development, and territorial extension who inhabited pre-Roman Italy, a region heavily influenced by neighbouring Greece, with its well-defined national characteristics, expansive vigour, and aesthetic and…
  • Distribution of Southeast American Indian cultures.
    Southeast Indian
    Southeast Indian, member of any of the Native American peoples of the southeastern United States. The boundaries of this culture area are somewhat difficult to delineate, because the traditional cultures in the Southeast shared many characteristics with those from neighbouring regions. Thus, most…
  • North America
    North America
    North America, third largest of the world’s continents, lying for the most part between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer. It extends for more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km) to within 500 miles (800 km) of both the North Pole and the Equator and has an east-west extent of 5,000 miles. It…
  • South America
    South America
    South America, fourth largest of the world’s continents. It is the southern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, or simply the Americas. The continent is compact and roughly triangular in shape, being broad in the north and tapering to a point—Cape…
  • Distribution of North American Plains Indians.
    Plains Indian
    Plains Indian, member of any of the Native American peoples inhabiting the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. This culture area comprises a vast grassland between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains and from present-day provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada through…
  • Devanagari script
    Indo-Aryan languages
    Indo-Aryan languages, subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. In the early 21st century, Indo-Aryan languages were spoken by more than 800 million people, primarily in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Linguists generally recognize three major…
  • esker: Nunavut
    Glacial landform
    Glacial landform, any product of flowing ice and meltwater. Such landforms are being produced today in glaciated areas, such as Greenland, Antarctica, and many of the world’s higher mountain ranges. In addition, large expansions of present-day glaciers have recurred during the course of Earth…
  • topographic map
    Map
    Map, graphic representation, drawn to scale and usually on a flat surface, of features—for example, geographical, geological, or geopolitical—of an area of the Earth or of any other celestial body. Globes are maps represented on the surface of a sphere. Cartography is the art and science of making…
  • Feluccas on the Nile River near Luxor in Upper Egypt.
    River
    River, (ultimately from Latin ripa, “bank”), any natural stream of water that flows in a channel with defined banks . Modern usage includes rivers that are multichanneled, intermittent, or ephemeral in flow and channels that are practically bankless. The concept of channeled surface flow, however,…
  • Distribution of Dravidian languages.
    Dravidian languages
    Dravidian languages, family of some 70 languages spoken primarily in South Asia. The Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 215 million people in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Dravidian languages are divided into South, South-Central, Central, and North groups; these groups are further…
  • Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.
    Glacier
    Glacier, any large mass of perennial ice that originates on land by the recrystallization of snow or other forms of solid precipitation and that shows evidence of past or present flow. Exact limits for the terms large, perennial, and flow cannot be set. Except in size, a small snow patch that…
  • Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
    Antarctica
    Antarctica, fifth in size among the world’s continents. Its landmass is almost wholly covered by a vast ice sheet. Often described as a continent of superlatives, Antarctica is the world’s southernmost continent. It is also the world’s highest, driest, windiest, coldest, and iciest continent.…
  • Mount Sir Donald
    Mountain
    Mountain, landform that rises prominently above its surroundings, generally exhibiting steep slopes, a relatively confined summit area, and considerable local relief. Mountains generally are understood to be larger than hills, but the term has no standardized geological meaning. Very rarely do…
  • Mount St. Helens volcano
    Volcano
    Volcano, vent in the crust of the Earth or another planet or satellite, from which issue eruptions of molten rock, hot rock fragments, and hot gases. A volcanic eruption is an awesome display of the Earth’s power. Yet while eruptions are spectacular to watch, they can cause disastrous loss of life…
  • Dance movements of the honeybee: (left) round dance and (right) tail-wagging dance.
    Language
    Language, a system of conventional spoken, manual, or written symbols by means of which human beings, as members of a social group and participants in its culture, express themselves. The functions of language include communication, the expression of identity, play, imaginative expression, and…
  • Canal along a street in Colmar, France.
    Canals and inland waterways
    Canals and inland waterways, natural or artificial waterways used for navigation, crop irrigation, water supply, or drainage. Despite modern technological advances in air and ground transportation, inland waterways continue to fill a vital role and, in many areas, to grow substantially. This…
  • Africa
    Africa
    Africa, the second largest continent (after Asia), covering about one-fifth of the total land surface of Earth. The continent is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the east by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and on the south by the mingling waters…
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