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The shape of the land determined by elevation, relief, and landforms.


Height above sea level


The difference in elevation between the highest and lowest parts of an area.


A feature of topography formed by the processes that shape Earth's surface.

landform region

A large area of land where the topography is similar.


A landform made up of flat or gently rolling land with low relief


A landform with high elevation and high relief

mountain range

A series of mountains that have the same general shape and structure.

mountain system

Similar mountain ranges in an area make up a mountain system.

mountain belt

Mountain ranges and mountain systems in a long connected chain form a larger unit called a mountain belt.


A landform that has high elevation and a more or less level surface.


Earth's solid rocky outer layer.


The mixture of gases that surrounds Earth.


Earth's oceans, rivers, lakes, and ice.


All living things that live on, above, or under Earth's surface.


A model of all or part of Earth's surface as seen from above.


A sphere that represents Earth's surface.


Used to compare distance on a map or globe to distance on Earth's surface.


On a map, pictures used by mapmakers to stand for features on Earth's surface.


A list of the symbols used on a map.


An imaginary line that circles Earth halfway between the North and South poles.


One half of the sphere that makes up Earth's surface.

prime meridian

The line that makes a half circle from the North Pole to the South Pole and that passes through Greenwich, England.


A unit used to measure distances around a circle. One degree equals 1/360 of a full circle.


The distance in degrees north or south of the equator.


The distance in degrees east or west of the prime meridian.

map projection

A framework of lines that helps to show landmasses on a flat surface.

mercator projection

A type of map in which the lines of latitude and longitude all appear as straight, parallel lines that form a rectangle distorting the size and shape of the landmasses near the poles.

equal area projection

A type of map in which the map projection does not distort the size of the landmasses but there is still some distortion of shape.

satellite image

Pictures of land surface based on computer data collected from satellites.


Converting information to numbers for use by a computer.


The tiny dots in a satellite image.

topographic map

A map that shows the surface features of an area.

contour line

A line on a topographic map that connects points of equal elevation.

contour interval

The difference in elevation from one contour line to the next.

Global positioning system

A method of finding latitude and longitude using satellites.

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