The 17 natural regions of the Earth (and their characteristics)

Do you know what natural regions are? These are geographical areas delimited by a series of parameters, which can be the type of climate, vegetation, relief, etc. There are different types, with very specific characteristics.

In this article, we will learn what these regions are, what elements they are made of and how they can be classified. More precisely, we will talk about 17 natural regions and explain the most relevant characteristics of each of them.

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Natural regions: what are they?

Natural regions are geographical areas delimited by certain elements, such as vegetation and climate, as well as by different physical accidents. In other words, they are units of the territory, which are divided according to parameters and criteria. Sometimes, however, demarcating these areas is not that simple.

This way, natural regions consist of a way of geographically classifying different areas of the territory. They allow them to be divided according to their relief zones, their vegetation and other ecological and environmental aspects.


There are different elements that we can find in natural regions.

1. Ecosystems

Ecosystems are biological systems made up of two elements: living things and the natural environment in which they live.. All natural regions have certain ecosystems (in fact, they can have several).

These can be of different types: wild, coastal, marine … In addition, ecosystems intrinsically have certain relationships of dependence between plants and animals that allow coexistence and life.

2. Fauna

Fauna includes all animal species in a certain place (or climate, environment, etc.). Each natural region has its own. Thus, most natural regions have animals (although some more than others).


Natural regions can be of different types, According to the criteria we use to rank them. One of these classifications is that which divides these regions into the following three subgroups.

1. Climatic regions

They are classified according to their predominant characteristic climate. In turn, natural climatic regions are divided into three types of zones (climatic bands):

1.1. hot areas

In hot regions, the predominant climate is hot; these are hot areas, with high and stable temperatures (They vary little). On the other hand, they are characterized by the fact that they are wetlands. They are located around the equator of the Earth, that is, above and below.

1.2. temperate zones

Temperate zones have strong temperature variations; the stations are well differentiated (unlike the previous case). They are located to the south and north of the hot areas.

1.3. cold areas

Also called polar zones, these are cold natural regions, with low temperatures.. In these regions, winters are long and “harsh”. They benefit from a few hours of sunshine; this is due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

2. Orographic regions

The classification parameter of orographic regions is the relief. Depending on the type of relief, natural regions can be of five types.

2.1. Mountainous regions (mountains)

These are areas with many mountains, large mountain ranges, and elevated areas. For example: the Andes and the Swiss Alps.

2.2. Plateau regions

These are areas with plains but higher; for example the Tibetan plateau.

2.3. Plains regions

These natural regions also have plains, like the previous ones, but low and long. For example, we find the Venezuelan plans.

2.4. Desert regions (deserts)

These are desert areas, with dunes and sand. They generally have an intense climate. Deserts are areas with very little water, where it hardly rains. These are generally hot areas, although there are also cold deserts.

They have little vegetation, as well as few animals that live there. The flora and fauna of the deserts are characteristic, so that they can survive in these conditions (for example the cacti, which store water in their stems, or the meerkat, which obtains water from the roots of plants).

2.5. Hilly regions

Finally, the mountainous regions are rather flat areas, with some elevations, but low elevation.

3. Phytogeographic regions

finally natural phytogeographic regions are classified according to their predominant vegetation. These can be of five types, we know them below.

3.1. Forest regions (forests)

These are natural regions dominated by forests (especially at high altitudes) and mountains. They have great biodiversity. Summers here are generally hot and winters cold.

More specifically, forests are areas grouping together many trees. There are different types of forests (tropical, boreal …), depending on their climate, their area, etc.

3.2. Scrub the regions

Xerophilic vegetation and green shrubs with thick leaves predominate in these areas. Xerophilic vegetation adapts to dry climates. On the other hand, small plants abound, with extensive and deep roots. The typical fauna of the scrub region consists of snakes, various reptiles and arachnids.

3.3. Savannah regions (pasture)

Also called grazing region, these are plains regions, where it rains annually, with an intertropical climate. The vegetation is grazing (also called prairie); that is to say a herbaceous and scattered vegetation, with abundant weeds. There are few trees. On the other hand, vast low meadows abound. The soils are generally not very fertile, with very porous soils.

3.4. Wild regions (jungles)

These areas have great biodiversity and are generally located in the tropics, around the equator. These are tropical forests, where it rains very often. Its temperatures are high and constant, creating a humid atmosphere. Its vegetation is tall, very varied and leafy.

Jungles are forests that are often found in tropical countries; their trees grow together and are very tall. Typical animals here are jaguars, alligators, and ninja frogs.

3.5. Areas of Garriga

Finally, the natural regions of scrubland have little (and little) vegetation. Its characteristic climate is extreme (with very cold winters and very hot and dry summers). Its vegetation is rather sparse; the plants he owns are small and short-lived, with deep roots. Its characteristic fauna consists of birds, rodents, lizards and snakes.

4. Hydrographic regions

These natural regions are classified according to their hydrographic regions (hydrographic demarcations); hydrographic boundaries refer to the marine and land area (basins, water table, coast, etc.).

Thus, within the hydrographic regions, there are four types of zones. They are as follows.

4.1. coastal areas

These are areas surrounded by the sea. They generally have a port activity (ports).

4.2. lake areas

These natural regions have many lakes and lagoons (large bodies of water).

4.3. river areas

These are areas with many rivers, that is, with running water, in constant motion.

4.4. Mangrove areas

In these areas there are mangroves and swamps, that is, water with a lot of organic matter.

Bibliographical references:

  • Maximum, J. (2017). Natural regions. Caracterí

  • National geography staff. (2017). Plant region. National Geographic Society.

  • Olson, DM, E. Dinerstein, ED Wikramanayake, ND Burgess, GVN Powell, EC Underwood, JA D’amico, I. Itoua, HE Strand, JC Morrison, CJ Loucks, TF Allnutt, TH Ricketts, Y. Kura, JF Lamoreux , WW Wettengel, P. Hedao and KR Kassem. (2001). Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth. BioScience 51 (11): 933-938.

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