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The article is about the geographic sense of the term. For other uses, including 'Regions and Regional, see Region
Region is most commonly 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 land 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. A region may be seen as a collection of smaller units (as in "the New Englandmarker states") or as one part of a larger whole (as in "the New England region of the United Statesmarker"). Regions 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.

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.

Physiographic regions

Regions defined based on landform characteristics are called "physiographic" 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. Palaeogeographic continental regions that include Laurentia, Proto-Laurasia, Laurasia, Euramerica (the "Old Red Continent"), and Gondwana.The Paleogeographic region is also where paleontologist find answers in history.

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 "Englishmarker West Country" of Cornwallmarker, Devonmarker, Somersetmarker and Dorsetmarker.

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 Banksmarker. 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 region

A tourism region is a geographical region that has been designated by a governmental organization or tourism bureau as having common cultural or environmental characteristics. These regions are often named after a geographical, former, or current administrative region or may have a name created for tourism purposes. The names often evoke certain positive qualities of the area and suggest a coherent tourism experience to visitors. Countries, states, provinces, and other administrative regions are often carved up into tourism regions which, in addition to drawing the attention of potential tourists, often provide tourists who are otherwise unfamiliar with an area with a manageable number of attractive options.

Some of the more famous tourism regions based on historical or current administrative regions include Tuscany in Italymarker and Yucatánmarker in Mexicomarker. Famous examples of regions created by a government or tourism bureau include the United Kingdom'smarker Lake Districtmarker and California'smarker Wine Country.

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 Fieldmarker, 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 Basinmarker, a similarly important coal mining region in Russia; Kryvbas, the economic and iron ore mining region of Ukraine; and the James Bay Projectmarker, 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 , 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.

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 NATOmarker, 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 such as districts, agencies, or 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 Districtmarker; 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 Londonmarker, as well as other local districts like the York Rural Sanitary Districtmarker, the Delaware River Port Authority, the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, and C-TRAN.

Regional Government in Connecticut

In the U.S. State of Connecticutmarker the roles of county governments are now performed by regional governments not abiding to the present county borders. Ever since the dissolution of county government in Connecticutmarker in 1960, the roles of regional services once provided by the county are now provided by regional agencies of towns. Counties still are used in Connecticut as geographical entities and in some counties they are still used to organize judicial districts, also counties are still used to organize the state marshal system in Connecticut. Counties were also used to organize the sheriff's department of each Connecticut county until 2000, when county sheriff's were eliminated due to mismanagement as was the reason for abolishing the county governments. An example of one former county sheriff's department is the Fairfield County Sheriff's Department which served Fairfield Countymarker in Connecticutmarker. All sheriff's departments in Connecticut were not eliminated, only at the county level. Several towns and cities in Connecticut still maintain a sheriff's department such as Sheltonmarker with the Shelton Sheriff's Department.

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 Chilemarker). In English, the word is also used as the conventional translation for equivalent terms in other languages (e.g., the область (oblast), used in Russiamarker 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 Canadianmarker province of Québec also uses the "administrative region" (région administrative).

Scotlandmarker had local government regions from 1975 to 1996.

In Spain the official name of the autonomous community of Murciamarker is Región de Murcia. Also, some single-province autonomous communities such as Madridmarker use the term región interchangeably with comunidad autónoma.

Two län (counties) in Swedenmarker are officially called 'regions': Skåne and Västra Götalandmarker, 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 Brazilmarker 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)

Chinamarker 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 Midlandsmarker, in Englandmarker), 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.

Examples of geographical regions

Military regions

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), or Generalissimo (Soviet Union). 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.

Air Training Corps

In the British Air Training Corps, a region is an administrative unit immediately above a wing and is commanded by a RAFR group captain. There are six regions in the UK, each consisting of six wing, commanded by an RAFVR wing commander.

See also


  1. Official Website. Retrieved 2009-11-25
  2. Official Website. Retrieved 2009-11-25
  3. Official Website. Retrieved 2009-11-25
  4. Tourism Website. Retrieved 2009-11-25
  • 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

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