Suppose you wake up one day and the whole world is flat without any distinctive features. How are you going to distinguish a mountain from a plain then? The earth won’t look great anymore. It has a wide range of characteristics and things that are awe-aspiring. But if it’s fully flat then it won’t be earth but more like a smooth golf ball. What differentiates the earth from a golfball anyway? Well, the earth’s physical features make it distinguishable. Now you might be wondering what are physical features we are talking about? What are physical features in geography? Let’s tackle these questions one by one but in a detailed manner now.
1. What are Physical Features?
Whenever you see the world through the maps or even with your own eyes there are some distinctive physical features you note about your surroundings. These physical features are the defining traits of everything you see around you with naked eyes. These things that you can touch include water bodies, climate, soil, natural vegetation, and landforms. (See What are the Uses of Soil?)
2. What is the Importance of Physical Features?
Now that you know what are physical features then let’s move towards learning about their importance. Physical features have their share of positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects make them important for human beings and the negative aspects are important for nature itself. Let’s look at the positive aspects that are important for you.
- Farming: The volcanic soil produced by volcanic mountains is very important for farming. You use plateaus and pains for setting up large farms with machinery.
- Water supply: Mountains are the starting point of river formations. These rivers supply water for domestic, and industrial use and irrigation of crops. (See What is the Main Source of Water?)
- Rainfall: Highland areas receive relief rainfall because of warm air rising over the mountains.
- Settlement: People like settling on plains as it is easily irrigated to grow a variety of crops.
- Borders: Physical features like rivers, mountains, and lakes act as a border between different countries.
- Security: In the past, communities settled in the highland area for security reasons. From high up there, you can easily see if the enemy is approaching you. In this way, you would be prepared for any attack.
- Transport: Water bodies like lakes and rivers are major transportation routes for trade and transport.
- Fishing: The water bodies also have a wide range of fishes living in them. These fishes are a great source of food as they are rich in protein. You can also do fishing as an income source.
- Mining: The earth holds very important and useful natural resources like gold, diamond, coal, oils, etc. Must read how do Mountains affect Dry Areas like Nevada?
Some more aspects of physical features are,
- The rivers and lakes are used for power generation.
- People hike mountains and hills as a part of recreational activity. Also, check out the 16 snowing in the Mountains facts.
- Hot volcanic rocks of some regions like the Rift Valley are used for geothermal power generation. (See How are Volcanoes Distributed on the Map?)
- Forests are part of physical features that is home to an enormous amount of flora and fauna.
3. What are Physical Features in Social Studies?
Things like weather, plants, water bodies, mountains, peninsulas, etc are examples of features that are found in nature. They distinguish one surface of the earth from another and are called physical features. These features are naturally occurring. They broadly include climate, soils, animal life, natural vegetation, bodies of water, and landforms. (Also read Why is Europe called the Peninsula of Peninsulas?)
4. What are Physical Features in Geography?
The physical features in geography are naturally created features. These features include landforms, ecosystems, and bodies of water. Apart from physical features, there are two more geographical features namely: artificial features and cartographic features. (See How many Islands in the Philippines are Known?)
5. What are the Examples of Physical Features in Geography?
Physical features mainly include landforms, bodies of water, ecosystems, and terrains. Let’s discuss them and their examples in detail.
- Landforms: They include plains, hills, mountains, plateaus, valleys, etc. Examples are Mt. Everest, Mariana Trench, the Colorado plateau, etc.
- Terrain: These are long stretches of land that form a specific geographic area. Their features can be impactful on the weather, bodies of water, and climate. They are either vertical or horizontal. Their types include deserts, forests, swamps, hills, canyons, and mountains. Examples are the Sahara desert of Africa, Canyons of South and North America, Mima mounds, etc. Must read about the hottest desert in the World.
- Ecosystems: These are geographical areas where plants, animals, organisms, weather, bodies of water, terrains, landscapes, and landforms co-exist. For example, grassland, rainforest, tundra, a prairie, etc.
- Bodies of water: About 71 percent of the earth is covered by bodies of water. They are also considered a part of landforms. They include oceans, lakes, rivers, canals, and glaciers. They can be freshwater or saltwater bodies and they vary greatly in size. Examples are the pacific ocean, Malaspina Glacier in Alaska, Lake Ontario, etc. Also, check out the words to describe the Sea.
6. What are Physical Features on a Map?
Apart from answering what are physical features in geography, let’s learn about them on a map. Maps are the two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world. They show physical features of the earth like landforms, bodies of water, mountains, lowlands, rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans, etc. The maps use different colors to denote different features. There are additionally different physical maps for different features of the world. Like there is a map showing types of soil, a map with different terrains, a map of vegetation, etc. These are some of the important geographical features of the world that you need to know. Must read what makes up the Lithosphere?
Apart from these maps also have some cartographic features. These are features that are not physical but they sure help in studying geography. They are not real nor can you touch them. As the line of equator or longitude or latitude is not visible to the naked eyes of the spectator, they are present on globes or physical maps. They are universally accepted. (Also read What is the Northern Most State in the U.S.?)
7. What are Human and Physical Features?
Physical features are naturally occurring features of the earth. These features distinguish one part of the earth from the other. As mentioned earlier, these include landforms, bodies of water, ecosystems, and terrains and are very important for the settlement of humans, food, economy, farming, water supply, rainfalls, security, trade, transport, etc. Check out what is the Biggest Thing on Earth?
Human features on the other hand are engineered or man-made features present on the earth. These include roads, buildings, dams, bridges, railway lines, buildings, etc. Even the settlements where humans live now are considered human features as they were not created naturally. Your home, village, town, state, etc are all man-made. (Also read How long does it Take to Walk around the Earth?)