Do you know what natural regions are? They 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 consist of, what elements form them and how they can be classified. Specifically, 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 some elements, such as vegetation and climate, as well as by different physical features. In other words, they are units of the territory, which are divided on the basis of certain parameters and criteria. Sometimes, however, delimiting these areas is not so simple.

In this way, natural regions consist of a way of geographically classifying different areas of the territory . They make it possible to divide it according to its relief zones, its vegetation and other ecological and environmental aspects.


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

1. Ecosystems

Ecosystems are biological systems formed by two elements: living beings and the natural environment where they live . All natural regions present certain ecosystems (in fact, they may present more than one).

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

2. Fauna

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


Natural regions can be of different types , depending on the criteria we use to classify them. One of these classifications is the one that divides these regions into the following three subgroups.

1. Climate regions

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

1.1. Hot zones

In warm areas the predominant climate is a warm climate; these are hot areas with high and stable temperatures (they vary little). On the other hand, they are characterized by being humid areas. They are located around the Earth’s equator, that is, above and below it.

1.2. Temperate zones

The temperate zones present high variations of temperature ; the seasons are well differentiated (unlike the previous case). They are located in the south and in the north of the warm zones.

1.3. Cold zones

Also called polar areas, they are cold natural regions with low temperatures . In these areas the winters are long and “hard”. They enjoy few hours of sunshine; this is due to the inclination of the Earth’s axis.

2. Orographic regions

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

2.1. Mountainous regions (mountains)

These are areas with numerous 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.

Plain regions

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

2.4. Desert regions (deserts)

These are desert areas, with dunes and sandstones. They usually have an intense climate. The deserts are areas with very little water, where it hardly rains. Generally they are hot areas, although there are also cold deserts.

They have little vegetation, as well as few animals living in them. The flora and fauna of the deserts are characteristic, so that they can survive in these conditions (for example the cactus, which stores the water in its stem, or the meerkat, which obtains the water from the roots of the plants).

2.5. Hill regions

Finally, the hilly regions are rather flat areas, with some elevations, but little height.

3. Phytogeographic regions

Finally, the natural phytogeographic regions are classified by their predominant vegetation . These can be of five types, which are described below.

3.1. Wooded regions (forests)

These are natural regions where forests (especially those of high altitude) and mountains predominate. They have a great biodiversity. Summers here are usually hot, and winters are cold.

Specifically, forests are areas that have many trees clustered together. There are different types of forests (tropical, boreal…), according to their climate, area, etc.

3.2. Scrubland regions

In these areas, xerophytic vegetation and thick green bushes predominate. Xerophilic vegetation is that which is adapted to the dry climate. On the other hand, small plants abound, with extensive and deep roots. The typical fauna of the bush region is formed by snakes, different reptiles and arachnids.

3.3. Savannah (grassland) regions

Also called grassland region, they are regions with plains, where it rains annually, with an intertropical climate. The vegetation is grassland (also called herbaceous); that is, herbaceous and dispersed vegetation, with abundant weeds. There are few trees. On the other hand, there is an abundance of extensive, low-lying grasslands. The land is usually not very fertile, with very porous soils.

3.4. Forest regions

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

Forests are forests that are usually found in tropical countries; their trees grow together and are very tall. Typical animals there are jaguars, alligators and ninja frogs.

3.5. Chaparral regions

Finally, the natural regions of chaparral have little vegetation (and little height). Its characteristic climate is extreme (with very cold winters and very hot and dry summers). Its vegetation is rather scarce; the plants it has are small and short-lived, with deep roots. Its characteristic fauna is formed by birds, rodents, lizards and snakes.

4. Hydrographic regions

These natural regions are classified according to their hydrographic regions (hydrographic districts) ; the hydrographic districts refer to the marine area and the land area (basins, groundwater, coast, etc.).

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

4.1. Coastal areas

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

4.2. Lake areas

These natural regions have numerous lakes and lagoons (large areas of water).

4.3. River areas

These are areas with numerous rivers, that is, with water that flows, in constant movement.

4.4. Mangrove areas

These areas include mangroves and swamps, i.e. water with a lot of organic matter.

Bibliographic references:

  • Maxima, J. (2017). Natural regions.

  • National Geographic Staff. (2017). Vegetation Region. National Geographic Society.

  • Olson, D.M., E. Dinerstein, E.D. Wikramanayake, N.D. Burgess, G.V.N. Powell, E.C. Underwood, J.A. D’amico, I. Itoua, H.E. Strand, J.C. Morrison, C.J. Loucks, T.F. Allnutt, T.H. Ricketts, Y. Kura, J.F. Lamoreux, W.W. Wettengel, P. Hedao, and K.R. Kassem. (2001). Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Life on Earth. BioScience 51(11): 933-938.