- The article is about the geographic sense of the term. For other uses, including Regions and Regional, see Region (disambiguation).
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 England states") or as one part of a larger whole (as in "the New England region of the United States"). 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.
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.
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.
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, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Regional Government in Connecticut
In the U.S. State of Connecticut 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 Connecticut 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 County in Connecticut. 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 Shelton with the Shelton Sheriff's Department.
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:
- Belgium (in French, région; in German, Region; the Dutch term gewest is often translated as "region")
- Chad (région, effective from 2002)
- Chile (región)
- Congo (région)
- Côte d'Ivoire (région)
- Denmark (effective from 2007)
- England (not the United Kingdom as a whole)
- France (région)
- Guinea (région)
- Guinea-Bissau (região)
- Hungary (régió)
- Italy (regione)
- Madagascar (région)
- Mali (région)
- New Zealand
- Peru (región)
- Philippines (region)
- Senegal (région)
- Togo (région)
- Trinidad and Tobago (Regional Corporation)
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 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)
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:
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.
Examples of geographical regions
- Geographical regions in Serbia and Montenegro
- Historical regions of Central Europe
- Historical regions of the Balkan Peninsula
- List of regions in Australia
- List of regions of Canada
- List of regions in India
- List of regions of the United States
- List of traditional regions of Slovakia
- Regions of Brazil
- Regions of Asia
- Regions of Turkey
- Lists of unofficial regions by country
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 wings, commanded by an RAFVR(T) wing commander.
- DEMOLOGOS Project
- Regional development
- Regional geography
- Carl O. Sauer
- Regional state
- Region (Europe)
- DVD region
- 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
- 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
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