AskDefine | Define region

Dictionary Definition



1 the extended spatial location of something; "the farming regions of France"; "religions in all parts of the world"; "regions of outer space" [syn: part]
2 a part of an animal that has a special function or is supplied by a given artery or nerve; "in the abdominal region" [syn: area]
3 a large indefinite location on the surface of the Earth; "penguins inhabit the polar regions"
4 the approximate amount of something (usually used prepositionally as in `in the region of'); "it was going to take in the region of two or three months to finish the job"; "the price is in the neighborhood of $100" [syn: neighborhood]
5 a knowledge domain that you are interested in or are communicating about; "it was a limited domain of discourse"; "here we enter the region of opinion"; "the realm of the occult" [syn: domain, realm]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ɹiːʤn̩/


  1. Any considerable and connected part of a space or surface; specifically, a tract of land or sea of considerable but indefinite extent; a country; a district; in a broad sense, a place without special reference to location or extent but viewed as an entity for geographical, social or cultural reasons.
    the equatorial regions
    the temperate regions
    the polar regions
    the upper regions of the atmosphere
  2. An administrative subdivision of a city, a territory, a country or the European Union.
  3. Such a division of the city of Rome and of the territory about Rome, of which the number varied at different times; a district, quarter, or ward.
  4. The inhabitants of a region or district of a country.
  5. A place in or a part of the body in any way indicated.
    the abdominal regions
  6. Place; rank; station; dignity.
  7. The space from the earth's surface out to the orbit of the moon: properly called the elemental region.


any considerable and connected part of a space or surface
an administrative subdivision
a division of the city of Rome
the inhabitants of a region
a place in or a part of the body in any way indicated


Extensive Definition

''This article is about the geographic sense of the term. For other uses, including Regions and Regional, see Region (disambiguation).
Region is a geographical term that is used in various ways among the different branches of geography. In general, a region is a medium-scale area of Earth or water, smaller than the whole areas of interest (which could be, for example, the world, a nation, a river basin, mountain range, and so on), and larger than a specific site or location. A region can be seen as a collection of smaller units (as in "the New England states") or as one part of a larger whole (as in "the New England region of the United States").
Regions are areas and or the spaces used in the study of geography. A region can be defined by physical characteristics, human characteristics and functional characteristics.
As a way of describing spatial areas, the concept of regions is important and widely used among the many branches of geography, each of which can describe areas in regional terms. For example, ecoregion is a term used in environmental geography, cultural region in cultural geography, bioregion in Biogeography, and so on. The field of geography that studies regions themselves is called Regional geography.
Regions are conceptual constructs and, thus, may vary among cultures and individuals.

Natural regions

In the fields of physical geography, ecology, biogeography, zoogeography, and environmental geography, regions tend to be based on natural features such as ecosystems or biotopes, biomes, drainage basins, mountain ranges, soil types, and so on.


Many systems of defining ecoregions have been created. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been active in creating one of the more recent and comprehensive systems. In this system, ecoregions are part of a nested hierarchy of ecological regions of different scales. Small units are called sites, micro-ecosystems, landtypes, and land units, among other terms. Small units are grouped into larger units called landscape mosaics, meso-ecosystems, landtype associations, and subregions, among other terms. These in turn are grouped into larger units called variously regions, ecoregions, provinces, divisions, domains, zones, ecozones, kingdoms, and so on.

Hydrological regions

The fields of hydrology and hydrography involve the study and description of water in the environment. Surface-water hydrology focuses on streams, lakes, wetlands, and other kinds of surface water (as opposed to groundwater). Hydrology is a broad field with many topics of study, including the delineation of water-based regions.
There are many systems for defining surface water regions. A basic type of stream-based region is the drainage basin, or watershed. In some cases, drainage basins are directly linked to cultural and political regions. For example, the Hudson Bay drainage basin was defined politically as Rupert's Land, the historic territory of the Hudson's Bay Company. Boundaries between drainage basins, called water divides, are frequently used as political boundaries.

Hydrologic Units

The drainage basin concept is expanded upon in hierarchical systems of hydrologic units. In the United States, an effort is being made to delineate hydrologic units in a six level hierarchy covering the entire country and adhering to a standard called the "Federal Standard for Delineation of Hydrologic Unit Boundaries". The six nested levels of hydrologic unit regions are named, from largest to smallest, regions, subregions, basins, subbasins, watersheds, and subwatersheds. The system defines 21 hydrologic unit (HU) regions in the United States, 222 HU subregions, 352 HU basins, and 2,149 HU subbasins. The delineation of 5th level watersheds and 6th level subwatersheds is not complete, but estimates predict about 22,000 watersheds and 160,000 subwatersheds in the United States.
All of these HU regions are given a numeric ID and a name. An example of the names and nesting hierarchy is:
  • Region: Pacific Northwest Hydrologic Region (ID 17)
  • Subregion: Lower Snake Subregion (ID 1706; size 35,200 square miles)
  • Basin: Lower Snake Basin (ID 170601; size 11,800 square miles)
  • Subbasin: Imnaha Subbasin (ID 17060102; size 855 square miles)
  • Watershed: not yet delineated, but there are 5-15 watersheds per subbasin
  • Subwatershed: not yet delineated, but there are 5-15 subwatersheds per watershed

Physiographic regions

Regions defined based on the dance ,=moves it can achieve characteristics are called "phsycadellic" or "geomorphic" regions. Physiography involves the delineation and description of regions from the viewpoint of geomorphology. Geologist Nevin Fenneman defined a classic three-level hierarchical system of physiographic regions for the United States in 1946. The regions are called divisions, provinces, and sections. For example, there are 8 large physiographic divisions, such as the Canadian Shield and the Interior Plains. These are subdivioned into provinces and sectiones. The appalachiane Highlands division, for example, contains the Valley and Ridge province, which in turn contains three sections, the Tennessee section, Middle section, and Hudson section. The Valley and Ridge province approximately corresponds to the more general region known as the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians.

Palaeogeographic regions

Palaeogeography is the study of ancient geologic environments. Since the physical structures of the Earth's surface have changed over geologic time, palaeogeographers have coined various names for ancient regions that no longer exist, from very large regions such as the supercontinents Rodinia, Pangaea, and Pannotia, to relatively small regions like Beringia. Other examples include the Tethys Ocean and Ancylus Lake. Palaeogeographiccontinentalregionsthatinclude Laurentia, Proto-Laurasia, Laurasia, Euramerica (the "Old Red Continent"), and Gondwana.

Historical regions

The field of historical geography involves the study of human history as it relates to places and regions, or, inversely, the study of how places and regions have changed over time.
D. W. Meinig, a historical geographer of America, describes many historical regions in his book The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History. For example, in identifying European "source regions" in early American colonization efforts, he defines and describes the "Northwest European Atlantic Protestant Region", which includes sub-regions such as the "Western Channel Community", which itself is made of sub-regions such as the "English West Country" of Cornwall and Devon.
In describing historic regions of America, Meinig writes of "The Great Fishery" off the coast of Newfoundland and New England, an oceanic region that includes the Grand Banks. He rejects regions traditionally used in describing American history, like New France, "West Indies", the Middle Colonies, and the individual colonies themselves (Province of Maryland, for example). Instead he writes of "discrete colonization areas", which may be named after colonies, but rarely adhere strictly to political boundaries. Historic regions of this type Meinig writes about include "Greater New England" and its major sub-regions of "Plymouth", "New Haven shores" (including parts of Long Island), "Rhode Island" (or "Narragansett Bay"), "the Piscataqua", "Massachusetts Bay", "Connecticut Valley", and to a lesser degree, regions in the sphere of influence of Greater New England, "Acadia" (Nova Scotia), "Newfoundland and The Fishery/The Banks".
Other examples of historical regions include Iroquoia, Ohio Country, Illinois Country, and Rupert's Land.

Tourism regions

Tourism geography is the study of tourism and travel as it relates to places. Regions are studied as places of tourist origin as well as tourist destination. From the perspective of tourism geography, a regions like the Lake District of England may receive more attention than its political region of Cumbria, or New Zealand's Fiordland region more than Southland Province. For example, the policy used by the Wikitravel guide discourages the use of U.S. counties as guide subjects, in favor of geographic or metropolitan regions.
In ecotourism, regions are often described in terms more environmental than political, such as the Serengeti region.
Other examples of tourism regions include the Loire Valley in France, Cinque Terre in Italy, Cappadocia in Turkey, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Natural resource regions

Natural resources often occur in distinct regions. Natural resource regions can be a topic of physical geography or environmental geography, but also have a strong element of human geography and economic geography. A coal region, for example, is a physical or geomorphological region, but its development and exploitation can make it into an economic and a cultural region. Some examples of natural resource regions include the Rumaila Field, the oil field that lies along the border or Iraq and Kuwait and played a role in the Gulf War; the Coal Region of Pennsylvania, which is a historical region as well as a cultural, physical, and natural resource region; the South Wales Coalfield, which like Pennsylvania's coal region is a historical, cultural, and natural region; the Kuznetsk Basin, a similarly important coal mining region in Russia; Kryvbas, the economic and iron ore mining region of Ukraine; and the James Bay Project, a large region of Quebec where one of the largest hydroelectric systems in the world has been developed.

Religious regions

Sometimes a region associated with a religion is given a name, like Christendom, a term with medieval and renaissance connotations of Christianity as a sort of social and political polity. The term Muslim world is sometimes used to refer to the region of the world where Islam is dominant. These broad terms are very vague when used to describe regions.
Within some religions there are clearly defined regions. The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and others, define ecclesiastical regions with names such as diocese, eparchy, ecclesiastical provinces, and parish.
For example, the United States is divided into 32 Roman Catholic ecclesiastical provinces. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is organized into 33 geographic "districts", which are subdivided into "circuits" (the Atlantic District (LCMS), for example). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses regions similar to dioceses and parishes, but uses terms like ward and stake.
anchor Political regions

Political regions

In the field of political geography regions tend to be based on political units such as sovereign states; subnational units such as provinces, counties, townships, territories, etc; and multinational groupings, including formally defined units such as the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and NATO, as well as informally defined regions such as the Third World, Western Europe, and the Middle East.

Local administrative regions

There are many relatively small regions based on local government agencies. Sometimes these small political regions are called districts or areas, and sometimes regions. In general, they are all regions in the general sense of being bounded spatial units. Examples include electoral districts such as Washington's 6th congressional district and Tennessee's 1st congressional district; school districts such as Granite School District and Los Angeles Unified School District; economic districts such as the Reedy Creek Improvement District; metropolitan areas such as the Seattle metropolitan area, and metropolitan districts such as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, the Metropolitan Police Service of Greater London, as well as other local districts like the York Rural Sanitary District, the Delaware River Port Authority, the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, and C-TRAN.

Administrative regions

The word "region" is taken from the Latin regio, and a number of countries have borrowed the term as the formal name for a type of subnational entity (eg, the región, used in Chile). In English, the word is also used as the conventional translation for equivalent terms in other languages (e.g., the область (oblast), used in Russia alongside with a broader term регион).
The following countries use the term "region" (or its cognate) as the name of a type of subnational administrative unit: The Canadian province of Québec also uses the "administrative region" (région administrative).
Scotland had local government regions from 1975 to 1996.
In Spain the official name of the autonomous community of Murcia is Región de Murcia. Also, some single-province autonomous communities such as Madrid use the term región interchangeably with comunidad autónoma.
Two län (counties) in Sweden are officially called 'regions': Skåne and Västra Götaland, and there is currently a controversial proposal to divide the rest of Sweden into large regions, replacing the current counties.
The government of the Philippines uses the term "region" (in Filipino, rehiyon) when it's necessary to group provinces, the primary administrative subdivision of the country. This is also the case in Brazil which groups its primary administrative divisions (estados; "states") into grandes regiões (greater regions) for statistical purposes, while Russia uses экономические районы (economic regions) in a similar way, as does Romania and Venezuela.
The government of Singapore makes use of the term "region" for its own administrative purposes.
The following countries use an administrative subdivision conventionally referred to as a region in English:
  • Bulgaria, which uses the област (oblast)
  • Russia, which uses the область (oblast)
  • Ukraine, which uses the область (oblast)
  • Slovakia (kraj)
China has five 自治区 (zìzhìqū) and two 特別行政區 (or 特别行政区; tèbiéxíngzhèngqū) which are translated as "autonomous region" and "special administrative region", respectively.

Traditional or informal regions

The traditional territorial divisions of some countries are also commonly rendered in English as "regions". These informal divisions do not form the basis of the modern administrative divisions of these countries, but still define and delimit local regional identity and sense of belonging. Examples include:

Geographical regions

A region can also be used for a geographical area; with this usage, there is an implied distinctiveness about the area that defines it. Such a distinction is often made on the basis of a historical, political, or cultural cohesiveness that separates the region from its neighbours.
Geographical regions can be found within a country (e.g., the Midlands, in England), or transnationally (e.g., the Middle East).
Similarly, the United Nations Statistics Division has devised a scheme for classifying macrogeographic regions (continents), continental subregions, and selected socioeconomic groupings.

Military usage

In military usage a region is shorthand for the name of a military formation larger than an Army Group and smaller than an Army Theater or simply Theater. The full name of the military formation is Army Region. An Army Region usually consists of between two and five Army Groups. The size of an Army Region can vary widely but is generally somewhere between about 1 million and 3 million soldiers. Two or more Army Regions could make up an Army Theater. An Army Region would typically be commanded by a full General (US four stars), a Field Marshal or General of the Army (US five stars), Generalissimo (Soviet Union) or General of the Armies (US six stars), or by general officers holding ranks equivalent to six stars (for those nations that have had these generals). Due to the large size of this formation, its use is rarely employed. Some of the very few examples of an Army Region would be each of the Eastern, Western, and southern (mostly in Italy) fronts in Europe during World War II. The military map symbol for this echelon of formation (see Military organization and APP-6A) consists in six Xs.

See also

External links

  • Map and descriptions of hydrologic unit regions of the United States]
  • [ Federal Standards for Delineation of Hydrologic Unit Boundaries]
  • Physiographic regions of the United States


  • Bailey, Robert G. (1996) Ecosystem Geography. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-94586-5
  • Meinig, D.W. (1986). The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 1: Atlantic America, 1492-1800. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03548-9
region in Bengali: অঞ্চল
region in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Рэгіён
region in Catalan: Regió
region in Czech: Region
region in Welsh: Rhanbarth
region in Danish: Region
region in German: Region
region in Estonian: Regioon
region in Spanish: Región
region in Esperanto: Regiono (geografio)
region in Basque: Eskualde
region in Persian: منطقه
region in Indonesian: Wilayah
region in Italian: Regione (geografia)
region in Georgian: რეგიონი
region in Latin: Regio
region in Latvian: Reģions
region in Lithuanian: Regionas
region in Dutch: Regio
region in Japanese: 地域
region in Norwegian: Region
region in Norwegian Nynorsk: Region
region in Polish: Region (geografia)
region in Portuguese: Região
region in Romanian: Regiune
region in Russian: Регион
region in Sicilian: Riggiuni
region in Simple English: Region
region in Slovenian: Regija
region in Finnish: Alue
region in Swedish: Region
region in Thai: ดินแดน
region in Ukrainian: Регіон
region in Venetian: Rejon

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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