What are the different geographical features and their locations? Read further to know more about it.
Geographical features are identifiable landmarks that help in defining and recognizing the surface of the Earth.
Earth’s geographical features are vast and varied, offering a glimpse into the dynamic processes shaping our planet.
Geographic characteristics can be natural or man-made. Let’s explore the important geographical features and their location.
Mountain Ranges of the world
A mountain system is a collection of mountain ranges that all arose within the same period and are comparable in form, structure, and extension.
Examples include the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountain System, and the Basin Range of Nevada in the United States.
When taking a comprehensive study on this topic one should link it with geopolitical issues, environmental concerns, hydroelectric potentials, climate change, etc. Some crucial topics under this tag include
- Important Mountain Passes and their locations
- Mountain Ranges of India
- Longitudinal Divisions of Himalayas
- Volcanic Mountains and their locations
- Mountainous Land Boundaries of the World
Must know (World Geography):
- Himalayas (Asia): A massive range in Asia, extending across five countries, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and Pakistan.
- Andes (South America): The longest mountain range in the world, traversing seven countries in South America.
Must know (Indian Geography):
- Himalayas: The northern border of India is framed by the magnificent Himalayan range, hosting some of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest.
- Western Ghats: Running along India’s western coast, the Western Ghats are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their biodiversity.
Here are some of the major mountains in the world, along with their locations:
- Mount Everest: Located in the Himalayas, Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. It straddles the border between Nepal and the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
- K2: Also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, K2 is the second tallest mountain in the world. It is part of the Karakoram Range and is located on the border between Pakistan and China.
- Kangchenjunga: Kangchenjunga is the third-highest mountain in the world and is situated on the border between Nepal and the Indian state of Sikkim.
- Lhotse: Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world and is located near Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China.
- Makalu: Makalu is the fifth-highest mountain in the world and is also part of the Himalayas. It is located on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China.
- Cho Oyu: Cho Oyu is the sixth-highest mountain globally and is situated on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China. It is near Mount Everest.
- Dhaulagiri: Dhaulagiri is the seventh-highest mountain in the world and is located in the Nepal Himalayas.
- Manaslu: Manaslu is the eighth-highest mountain in the world and is situated in the Gorkha District of Nepal.
- Nanga Parbat: Also known as the “Killer Mountain,” Nanga Parbat is the ninth-highest globally and is located in the Himalayas in Pakistan.
- Annapurna: Annapurna is the tenth-highest mountain in the world and is part of the Nepal Himalayas.
- Mount McKinley (Denali): The highest peak in North America, Mount McKinley, or Denali, is located in the Alaska Range, Alaska, USA.
- Mount Kilimanjaro: Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and is situated in Tanzania.
- Mount Elbrus: Mount Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe and is located in the Caucasus Mountains, in Russia.
- Aconcagua: The highest peak in South America, Aconcagua, is located in the Andes Range in Argentina.
- Mount Vinson: The highest mountain in Antarctica, Mount Vinson, is part of the remote Ellsworth Mountains.
- Mount Kosciuszko: Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia and is located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales.
- Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid): The tallest mountain in Oceania, Puncak Jaya, is situated in Papua Province, Indonesia.
- Mount Cook (Aoraki): Mount Cook, also known as Aoraki, is the highest mountain in New Zealand and is located in the Southern Alps.
Another important tag that can be included under this topic is the River systems and their Locations. It can be further divided into Indian and world rivers. Important topics that can be included under River Systems are as follows:
- Drainage System
- Cultural Significance of Rivers
- Economic Significance of Rivers
- Impact of Climate Change on rivers.
Must know (World Geography):
- Amazon River (South America): Known for having the highest discharge of water in the world.
- Nile River (Africa): The longest river globally, flowing through northeastern Africa.
Must know (Indian Geography):
- Ganges: One of the most sacred rivers in Hinduism, the Ganges flows through the northern plains of India.
- Brahmaputra: This majestic river travels through China, India, and Bangladesh, playing a central role in the region’s water supply.
Oceans of the world and associated features
Oceanography and associated phenomenons play a crucial factor in scoring high in GS-1 Mains. The topics can include
- Ocean Relief Features
- Ocean Currents and their location
- Ocean Salinity
- Ocean Economics
- Impact of Climate Change on Ocean water level
- Oceans and their locations
- Oceanic Resources and Their Deposits
- Coral Reefs and their Locations; Coral Bleaching
- Marine Pollution
There are five major oceans, each with its unique characteristics and location:
- Pacific Ocean: The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean on Earth. It stretches from the eastern coast of Asia to the western coast of the Americas, covering a vast expanse of more than 63 million square miles (165 million square kilometers). The Pacific Ocean is known for its numerous islands, including Hawaii and the Galápagos Islands.
- Atlantic Ocean: The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean and lies between the Americas to the west and Europe and Africa to the east. It covers an area of about 41 million square miles (106 million square kilometers). The Atlantic Ocean is known for the Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that influences climate along the eastern coast of North America and Western Europe.
- Indian Ocean: The Indian Ocean is the third-largest ocean and is situated to the south of Asia, east of Africa, and west of Australia. It covers approximately 27 million square miles (70 million square kilometers). The Indian Ocean is known for its warm waters, monsoon patterns, and important maritime trade routes.
- Southern Ocean: The Southern Ocean encircles Antarctica and is sometimes considered the fifth and newest ocean. It is located south of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. The Southern Ocean plays a vital role in regulating the Earth’s climate by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide.
- Arctic Ocean: The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans, situated largely within the Arctic Circle in the Northern Hemisphere. It is bordered by North America, Asia, and Europe. The Arctic Ocean is known for its sea ice, which fluctuates seasonally, and it is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Plateaus of the world
A plateau is a piece of land with a flat top. Every continent has plateaus, which occupy one-third of the surface of Earth. Together with hills, mountains, and plains, they make up one of the four main types of land. Like mountains, plateaus can be young or old. One of the oldest plateaus is in India’s Deccan region.
Plateaus are very useful because they are rich in mineral deposits. As a result, many of the mining areas in the world are located in the plateau areas. Important topics that can be included under this tag are as follows.
- Economic Significance of Plateaus
- Formation of Plateaus
- Types of Plateaus like dissected, volcanic, etc.
- Major Plateaus of the world include the Tibetan Plateaus, Colorado Plateaus, Deccan Plateau, Laurentian Plateau, etc.
Must know (World Geography):
- Tibetan Plateau (Qinghai-Tibet Plateau): Located in Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau is often referred to as the “Roof of the World.” It spans the Qinghai-Tibet region of China, parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. It is the world’s highest and largest plateau, with an average elevation of over 4,500 meters (14,800 feet).
- Colorado Plateau: Located in the southwestern United States, the Colorado Plateau encompasses parts of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. It is renowned for its stunning canyons, including the Grand Canyon, and unique geological formations.
- Plateau of Patagonia: Situated in southern Argentina and Chile, the Patagonian Plateau is a vast plateau region known for its windswept landscapes, glaciers, and pristine wilderness areas.
- Ethiopian Plateau: Found in East Africa, the Ethiopian Plateau covers much of Ethiopia and extends into Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. It is characterized by high elevations, rugged terrain, and deep valleys.
- Laurentian Plateau: Also known as the Canadian Shield, this plateau covers a significant portion of eastern and central Canada, including parts of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and the northern United States. It is a cradle of ancient rock formations and contains numerous lakes and forests.
- Brazilian Highlands: Situated in eastern South America, the Brazilian Highlands cover much of Brazil and extend into parts of neighboring countries like Argentina and Venezuela. They feature rolling hills and plateaus, including the Brazilian Plateau.
- Central Siberian Plateau: Located in northern Asia, this vast plateau covers parts of Russia, including the Siberian regions of Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Sakha (Yakutia). It is known for its cold, remote, and sparsely populated landscapes.
- Mexican Plateau: Situated in Mexico, the Mexican Plateau, or the Mexican Altiplano, is a high plateau region that includes Mexico City and its surroundings. It is surrounded by mountain ranges, including the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental.
Must know (Indian Geography):
- Deccan Plateau: Located in southern India, it is a large plateau, rich in minerals and known for its unique topography and biodiversity.
- Malwa Plateau: Situated in west-central India, it is known for its rich black soil suitable for cultivating cotton.
Major Plains of the world
Plains are the most important landforms found on the earth’s surface. The plains are nothing but a low-lying relatively flat land surface with a very gentle slope and minimum local relief. Plains occupy about 55% of the earth’s land surface. Most of the plains have been formed by the deposition of sediments brought down by rivers. Besides rivers, some plains have also been formed by the action of the wind, moving ice, and tectonic activities. Important topics under this tag include,
- Classification of Plains: Based on their mode of formation, plains can be classified as:
- Structural plain
- Erosional plains
- Depositional plains
- Economic Significance of the plains.
Must know (World Geography):
- Masai Mara (Africa): Famous for its wildlife and as a site of the Great Migration.
Must know (Indian Geography):
- Coastal Plains: India boasts both Eastern and Western Coastal Plains, which are known for their beautiful beaches and fertile soil.
Here are some major plains around the world and their locations:
- Indo-Gangetic Plain:
- Location: South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal)
- Description: This is one of the most extensive and fertile plains in the world, formed by the alluvial deposits of the Indus and Ganges-Brahmaputra river systems. It’s known for its rich agricultural output and dense population.
- North European Plain:
- Location: Europe (Germany, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, etc.)
- Description: This vast plain stretches from France in the west to Russia in the east. It’s a significant agricultural region and home to many of Europe’s major cities.
- Great Plains (North American Prairie):
- Location: North America (United States and Canada)
- Description: The Great Plains of North America cover a vast area of flat to gently rolling terrain. They are known for agriculture, particularly wheat farming, and extend from the Canadian prairies in the north to Texas in the south.
- Amazon Basin:
- Location: South America (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia)
- Description: The Amazon Basin is the world’s largest tropical rainforest plain, primarily located in Brazil. It is characterized by dense vegetation, a complex river system (including the Amazon River), and rich biodiversity.
- Nile Delta:
- Location: North Africa (Egypt)
- Description: The Nile Delta is formed by the sedimentary deposits of the Nile River as it flows into the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a fertile region and home to many historic sites and cities, including Cairo.
- North China Plain:
- Location: East Asia (China)
- Description: The North China Plain is a flat, low-lying region in eastern China, known for its fertile soil and agriculture. It’s one of China’s primary grain-producing areas.
- Indus Valley:
- Location: South Asia (Pakistan and India)
- Description: The Indus Valley is formed by the Indus River and its tributaries. It’s an important agricultural region, particularly in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
- Central Valley (Great Valley of California):
- Location: North America (United States – California)
- Description: The Central Valley of California is a highly productive agricultural area in the western United States, known for its fruit, vegetable, and nut production.
- Location: South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil)
- Description: The Pampas are a vast, fertile plain in South America, known for cattle ranching and agriculture. It’s one of the most economically important regions in Argentina.
- Siberian Plain (West Siberian Plain):
- Location: Asia (Russia)
- Description: The Siberian Plain is the world’s largest plain, covering a significant part of Russia. It’s characterized by vast stretches of flat land, forests, and wetlands.
Major Straits of the World
Commercial shipping utilizes the Straits of the World, which are of enormous strategic and commercial significance, to move from one sea or exclusive economic zone to another. Straits act as a conduit for ocean currents, which change the climate in that region. Some important topics under this tag include
- Important straits like Malacca Strait, Palk Strait, Sunda Strait, Yucatan Strait, etc, and their location
(Not an exhaustive list)
- Economic benefits and other geopolitical news related to straits.
- South China Sea and China’s dominance.
- Artic Straits and their economic viability.
Other geographical features
Map Study of other important geographical features like canyons, lakes, hills, etc., and their locations are also important for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains.
- Grand Canyon (USA): A world-renowned canyon carved by the Colorado River, celebrated for its layered bands of colorful rock.
- Gandikota Canyon(India): Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of India”, it’s located on the Penna River.
- Caspian Sea (Eurasia): Despite its name, it is the world’s largest lake.
- Lake Victoria (Africa): The largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.
- Dal Lake (India): Located in Jammu and Kashmir, it’s known as the “Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir” for its beauty and vibrant houseboats.
- Chilika Lake (India): Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, famous for its diverse range of aquatic life and migratory birds.
- The Black Hills (North America): A small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America.
- Aravalli Range (India): One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, running through the western parts of India.
- Vindhya Range (India): A complex, discontinuous chain of mountain ridges, hills, and plateau escarpments in central India.
- Mount Vesuvius in Italy, Mount Fuji in Japan, and Mauna Loa in Hawaii.
- Carlsbad Caverns in the United States, Mammoth Cave in the United States, and Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand.
Milford Sound in New Zealand, Geirangerfjord in Norway, and Doubtful Sound in New Zealand.
- The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in the Caribbean, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in the Philippines.
- Glacier Bay in Alaska, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, and Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland.
These are just a few examples, and the world is rich with diverse geographical features that can be found on every continent and in every region. These geographical features contribute to the planet’s unique landscapes and ecosystems and play a crucial role in shaping Earth’s physical geography.
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From the towering mountains to the expansive plains, deep canyons, and serene lakes, the Earth’s surface is dotted with a myriad of geographical features that captivate and inspire.
India, as a microcosm of this diversity, offers a unique blend of terrains that are not only significant geologically but are also intertwined with the cultural and historical tapestry of the nation.
Each geographical feature, whether in India or elsewhere around the globe, narrates a distinct tale of natural splendor and the dynamic processes shaping our planet’s surface.
Article written by: Jis John Sebastian