A World of Words: The United States

Get the lay of the land by learning this list of words related to U.S. geography, from alpine tundra to arid deserts to grassy plains and prairies. These terms are essential for understanding the climate, natural resources, and landscape of the United States.
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  1. Adirondack Mountains
    a mountain range in northeastern New York State
  2. agriculture
    the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
  3. alpine
    relating to or characteristic of high mountains
  4. Appalachia
    a region of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States
  5. Appalachian Mountains
    a mountain range in the eastern United States extending from Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico; a historic barrier to early westward expansion of the United States
  6. aqueduct
    a conduit that carries water over a valley
  7. aquifer
    underground layer of rock or sand that yields groundwater
  8. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  9. Arctic Ocean
    ice covered waters surrounding the North Pole
  10. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
  11. assimilation
    the process of absorbing one cultural group into another
  12. Atlantic Ocean
    the 2nd largest ocean
  13. badlands
    deeply eroded barren land
  14. basin
    the geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries
  15. Bering Strait
    a strait connecting the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean
  16. biome
    major ecological community with distinct climate and flora
  17. bison
    a large humped animal having hooves and shaggy hair
  18. border
    a line that indicates a boundary
  19. buffalo
    a ruminant mammal resembling an ox
  20. butte
    a hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding region
  21. canyon
    a ravine formed by a river in an area with little rainfall
  22. Cascade Mountains
    a mountain range in the northwestern United States extending through Washington and Oregon and northern California; a part of the Coast Range
  23. census
    a periodic count of the population
  24. Chesapeake Bay
    a large inlet of the North Atlantic between Virginia and Maryland; fed by Susquehanna River
  25. climate
    the weather in some location averaged over a period of time
  26. coast
    the shore of a sea or ocean
  27. coastal
    of or relating to the shoreline
  28. coastal plain
    a plain adjacent to a coast
  29. Coast Range
    a string of mountain ranges along the Pacific coast of North America from southeastern Alaska to Lower California
  30. colonialism
    exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one
  31. colony
    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  32. Colorado River
    an important river in the southwestern United States
  33. Columbia River
    a North American river
  34. conifer
    a type of tree or shrub bearing cones
  35. contiguous
    connecting without a break
  36. Corn Belt
    the midwestern states where corn is grown
  37. cost of living
    average cost of basic necessities of life
  38. Death Valley
    a desert area that is part of the Mojave Desert in eastern California and southwestern Nevada; contains the lowest point in North America
  39. desert
    arid land with little or no vegetation
  40. diversity
    noticeable variety
  41. drought
    a shortage of rainfall
  42. dust bowl
    a region subject to dust storms
  43. East Coast
    the eastern seaboard of the United States
  44. economy
    the system of production and distribution and consumption
  45. ecosystem
    organisms interacting with their physical environment
  46. Everglades
    a large subtropical swamp in southern Florida that is noted for its wildlife
  47. export
    sell or transfer abroad
  48. frontier
    a wilderness at the edge of a settled area of a country
  49. geyser
    a spring that discharges hot water and steam
  50. glacier
    a slowly moving mass of ice
  51. Grand Canyon
    the enormous gorge of the Colorado River in northern Arizona
  52. Grand Teton
    a mountain peak in northwestern Wyoming
  53. grasshopper
    terrestrial plant-eating insect with hind legs adapted for leaping
  54. grassland
    land where grass or grasslike vegetation grows and is the dominant form of plant life
  55. Great Lakes
    a group of five large, interconnected lakes in central North America
  56. Great Plains
    a vast prairie region extending from Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada south through the west central United States into Texas; formerly inhabited by Native Americans
  57. Great Salt Lake
    a shallow body of salt water in northwestern Utah
  58. Guam
    the largest and southernmost island in the Marianas which is administered as a territory of the United States; it was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1898
  59. gulf
    an arm of a sea or ocean partly enclosed by land
  60. Gulf of Mexico
    an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
  61. Hawaiian Islands
    a group of volcanic and coral islands in the central Pacific
  62. highland
    elevated (e.g., mountainous) land
  63. Hudson River
    a New York river
  64. hurricane
    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds
  65. immigration
    movement of people into a country or area
  66. import
    bring in from abroad
  67. indigenous
    originating where it is found
  68. industrialization
    the development of commercial enterprise
  69. irrigation
    the act of supplying dry land with water by artificial means
  70. Lake Erie
    the 4th largest of the Great Lakes
  71. Lake Huron
    the 2nd largest of the Great Lakes
  72. Lake Mead
    the largest reservoir in the United States
  73. Lake Michigan
    the 3rd largest of the Great Lakes
  74. Lake Ontario
    the smallest of the Great Lakes
  75. Lake Superior
    the largest freshwater lake in the world
  76. Lake Tahoe
    a lake on the border between Nevada and California to the west of Carson City; a popular resort area
  77. life expectancy
    an expected time to live as calculated on the basis of statistical probabilities
  78. livestock
    any animals kept for use or profit
  79. lowland
    low level country
  80. mangrove
    a tree that grows in salty, tropical water near the coast
  81. Mason-Dixon line
    the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania
  82. megalopolis
    a very large urban complex
  83. melting pot
    a place where diverse people, cultures, and ideas are mixed
  84. mesa
    flat tableland with steep edges
  85. mid-Atlantic
    of a region of the United States generally including Delaware; Maryland; Virginia; and usually New York; Pennsylvania; New Jersey
  86. Midwest
    the north central region of the United States
  87. migration
    the movement of persons from one locality to another
  88. mining
    the act of extracting ores or coal from the earth
  89. Mississippi River
    a major North American river and the chief river of the United States; rises in northern Minnesota and flows southward into the Gulf of Mexico
  90. Missouri River
    the longest river in the United States
  91. Mojave Desert
    a desert area in southern California and western Arizona
  92. Mountain State
    a state in east central United States
  93. Mount St. Helens
    an active volcano in the Cascade Range in southwestern Washington; erupted violently in 1980 after 123 years of inactivity
  94. Mount Whitney
    the highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range in California
  95. Mt. McKinley
    a mountain in south central Alaska
  96. multicultural
    relating to or including diverse nationalities or customs
  97. NAFTA
    an agreement for free trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico; became effective in 1994 for ten years
  98. Native American
    any member of the peoples living in North or South America before the Europeans arrived
  99. natural gas
    a fossil fuel in the gaseous state
  100. natural resource
    material in the environment that can be used by people
  101. New England
    a region of northeastern United States comprising Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont and Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Connecticut
  102. Niagara Falls
    waterfall in Canada is the Horseshoe Falls
  103. noreaster
    a storm blowing from the northeast
  104. North America
    a continent (the third largest) in the western hemisphere connected to South America by the Isthmus of Panama
  105. Northeast
    the northeastern region of the United States
  106. Ohio River
    a river that is formed in western Pennsylvania and flows westward to become a tributary of the Mississippi River
  107. Old Faithful
    a geyser in Yellowstone National Park that erupts for about 4 minutes about every 65 minutes
  108. Ozark Mountains
    an area of low mountains in northwestern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma
  109. Pacific Ocean
    the largest ocean in the world
  110. peninsula
    a large mass of land projecting into a body of water
  111. plantation
    an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
  112. plateau
    a relatively flat raised area of land
  113. polar
    of or existing within the Arctic or Antarctic Circles
  114. population growth
    increase in the number of people who inhabit a territory or state
  115. postindustrial
    of or relating to a society or economy marked by a lessened importance of manufacturing and an increase of services, information, and research
  116. Potomac River
    a river in the east central United States
  117. prairie
    a treeless grassy plain
  118. prairie dog
    any of several rodents of North American prairies living in large complex burrows having a barking cry
  119. precipitation
    the falling to earth of any form of water
  120. Puerto Rico
    a self-governing commonwealth associated with the United States occupying the island of Puerto Rico
  121. Puget Sound
    an inlet of the North Pacific in northwestern Washington State
  122. rain shadow
    an area that has little precipitation because some barrier causes the winds to lose their moisture before reaching it
  123. redwood
    a large redwood tree native to the US West Coast
  124. republic
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  125. Rio Grande
    a North American river
  126. Rocky Mountains
    the chief mountain range of western North America
  127. Rustbelt
    urban areas in New England and Midwest characterized by concentrations of declining industries (steel or textiles)
  128. San Andreas Fault
    a major geological fault in California
  129. San Francisco Bay
    a bay of the Pacific in western California
  130. sediment
    matter that has been deposited by some natural process
  131. semiarid
    somewhat arid
  132. settler
    a person who resides in a new colony or country
  133. Sierra Madre Occidental
    a mountain range in northwestern Mexico that runs south from Arizona parallel to the Pacific coastline
  134. Sierra Nevada
    a mountain range in eastern California
  135. Silicon Valley
    a region in California to the south of San Francisco that is noted for its concentration of high-technology industries
  136. Southeast
    the southeastern region of the United States
  137. Southwest
    the southwestern region of the United States generally including New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California, and sometimes Utah and Colorado
  138. soybean
    the most highly proteinaceous vegetable known
  139. state
    territory occupied by an administrative district of a nation
  140. state capital
    the capital city of a political subdivision of a country
  141. Statue of Liberty
    a large monumental statue symbolizing liberty on Liberty Island in New York Bay
  142. subarctic
    of or relating to latitudes just south of the Arctic Circle
  143. suburb
    a residential district located on the outskirts of a city
  144. Sunbelt
    states in the south and southwest that have a warm climate and tend to be politically conservative
  145. tariff
    a government tax on imports or exports
  146. telecommunication
    (often plural) the branch of electrical engineering concerned with the technology of electronic communication at a distance
  147. temperate
    mild or free from extremes
  148. Tennessee River
    a river formed by the confluence of two other rivers near Knoxville; it follows a U-shaped course to become a tributary of the Ohio River in western Kentucky
  149. territory
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
  150. Teton Range
    a mountain range in northwest Wyoming
  151. topography
    the configuration of a surface and its features
  152. tornado
    a violently destructive windstorm occurring over land
  153. tourism
    the business of providing services to travelers for pleasure
  154. transportation
    the act of moving something from one location to another
  155. tropical
    relating to part of the Earth's surface with hot climate
  156. tundra
    a vast treeless plain where subsoil is permanently frozen
  157. urbanization
    the social process whereby cities grow
  158. Virgin Islands
    a group of islands in northeastern West Indies (east of Puerto Rico) discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493; owned by United States and Britain
  159. volcano
    a fissure in the earth's crust through which gases erupt
  160. Washington D.C.
    the capital of the United States in the District of Columbia and a tourist mecca; George Washington commissioned Charles L'Enfant to lay out the city in 1791
  161. West
    the region of the United States lying to the west of the Mississippi River
  162. West Coast
    the western seaboard of the United States from Washington to southern California
  163. wetland
    an ecosystem, like a bog or swamp, saturated with water
  164. Yellowstone National Park
    the first national park in the United States
  165. Yosemite National Park
    a national park in California famous for its waterfalls and rock formations
Created on January 19, 2017 (updated April 11, 2017)

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