There are many commonly identified geographical features. Plateaus are elevated, but they are flat on top.
Some plateaus are very dry, such as the Kenya Plateau, because surrounding mountains prevent them from receiving moisture, either in the form of rainfall or simply clouds and humidity being able to develop in that area.
So, some plateaus are very dry, but not all of them. All plateaus are going to be elevated areas that are flat on top. Plateau, flat. Remember: “plat,” flat. And that will help you remember plateaus are the flat areas, and that is what makes it a very specific geographical feature – is that they are flat on top.
Deserts are another common geographical feature, and deserts receive less than 10 inches of rain per year. So, that’s what classifies an area as a desert. Where you may receive a couple of inches of rain overnight, a desert is only going to see 10 inches of rain or less per year. And they’re usually large areas. You won’t usually find a small area that’s classified as a desert. It’s usually going to be a really large area, such as the Sahara Desert in Africa, or the Australian Outback, because if there’s an area that’s only receiving 10 inches of rain per year, it’s usually going to be a geographic location that’s spread out over a large area, and then slowly transitions into areas with more rain. You usually won’t find just one little spot.
Deltas occur at river mouths, and because rivers carry sediment down to the delta, these areas are often very fertile. So, deltas of rivers would be good areas to grow crops because lots of sediment with new, fresh nutrients would constantly be being transported down to that delta area.
Mesas are flat, steep-sided mountains or hills, and this term is also sometimes used to refer to plateaus. So, a mesa is different in that it’s the top of a steep-sided mountain or hill, where plateaus could be elevated, but they don’t necessarily have to be at the top of a mountain or hill. They could just be raised up and then go for a really long way without being the top of a mountain or a hill. It could just be a big break in elevation. Now, the term plateau can still be used for mesas, because plateaus are flat areas of land.
Basins areas of low elevation where rivers drain. So, you’ve heard of river basins, probably, and where a river winds its course, the basin is the area that’s kind of carved out by the river, and it is a lower elevation in the surrounding land.
Foothills are the transition area between the planes and the mountains. So, flat, lower lands and high mountains. And they are usually made up of hills that gradually increase in size as they get closer to the mountain range. So, foothills, you have a flat plain, and then slowly, you have higher and higher hills, until you get to the mountain peaks.
And last, we have marshes and swamps, and these are also lowlands, like your basin, but they are very wet, and usually spread out, and they are largely covered in vegetation, such as reeds and rushes. Where river basin could still hold shrubbery and trees, marshes and swamps are going to be so saturated with water almost year round, so that the only things that can grow there are water plants, such as reeds and rushes.
Now, there are other geographical features. We mentioned mountains, we mentioned rivers, we mentioned plains; all of those are geographical features. These are just some that you might not see as commonly, but they’re still important for you to know.