South America, the fourth-largest continent, extends from the Gulf of Darién in the northwest to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego in the south. The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit.
Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. This Geography Awareness Week, gather your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone in between to help you celebrate! How to Host a Geography Quiz Night: Complete with 100 prepared National Geographic Geography Bee questions! Quick activity ideas to do during events, in the classroom, at home, or in the office! Discover the amazing world of geography with NatGeoEd's resources, materials, games and more. Join your state's geography education alliance for professional development opportunities and more.
This collection contains a selection of content from NG Education about Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Australia and Oceania is a continent made up of thousands of islands throughout the South Pacific Ocean. Oceania is a region made up of thousands of islands throughout the Central and South Pacific Ocean.
Island Flora and Fauna The evolution of flora and fauna across the islands of Australia and Oceania is unique. Disappearing BayousAccording to National Geographic, Louisiana has lost around 4,900 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) of coastal wetlands since the 1930s. This cartoon is an introduction into the complex and rich world of geography and geographic education. Geography is interdisciplinary—it incorporates bits and pieces from the fields of science, arts, health, humanities, law, business, engineering, and technology. Geographers look at the spatial layout of an area in its entirety, and try to understand how the three major systems (human, biological, and physical) work together in this environment. When a geographer says that he or she examines things from a "spatial perspective", what do they mean? In an effort to make our daily air quality analyses as robust as possible, we at the Smog Blog have decided to use standardized geographic regions in our posts. It is home to the world's largest river (the Amazon) as well as the world's driest place (the Atacama Desert).
The Orinoco flows in a giant arc for more than 2,736 kilometers (1,700 miles), originating in the Guiana Highlands of northern Brazil and discharging in the Atlantic Ocean in Venezuela. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner () of the media viewer. Spatial thinking through maps is one of the most important skills that students can develop as they learn geography, Earth and environmental sciences, and so much more.
Check out a suite of resources all about geography as a field and discipline and even more tips and tools to plan your own GeoWeek celebrations!
Check out the Geography Awareness Week Archive for material dating back all the way to 2000!
This easy-to-use tool is great for getting started with interactive mapping and GIS and is now optimized for tablets. Take quizzes, read about past participants, and find sample questions to help prepare your students for the challenge. Many plants and animals reached the islands from southern Asia during the last glacial period, when sea levels were low enough to allow for travel. It acts as a catalyst to thinking about the multi-faceted functions of geography, and the myriad of applications of the discipline. The systems are often interwoven on the landscape.For instance, how many times have you seen a river run through a city? By looking at this spatial aspect of global issues, geographers see patterns and develop innovative solutions to complex global problems. Geographers focus on location more than any other factor when investigating issues on the local or global level. Look around your neighborhood, school, or town for examples of the work of geographers and others using the geographic perspective. Mountains and coastal plains generally run in a north-south direction, while highlands and river basins generally run in an east-west direction. The Orinoco River basin covers an area of about 948,000 square kilometers (366,000 square miles) and encompasses approximately 80 percent of Venezuela and 25 percent of Colombia.A vast savanna or grassland region, known as the Llanos, is the primary biome of the Orinoco River basin. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page. Most of Australia and Oceania is under the Pacific, a vast body of water that is larger than all the Earth’s continental landmasses and islands combined.
After sea levels rose, species adapted to the environment of each island or community of islands, producing multiple species that evolved from a common ancestor.
Bayous are often associated with the southeastern part of the United States.Bayous are usually shallow and sometimes heavily wooded. The world of geography is much more than place names and state capitals, and this cartoon aims to show the full breadth of the field. The physical system is the river itself, the path it takes, and the landforms it influences.
This approach is different from other scientists because geographers look at the holistic view of major issues, and try to find a solution that benefits all three systems, while still solving the problem. Focusing on the layout of the Earth, geographers are able to come to conclusions from a spatial perspective. Some examples are the road system, sewer system, weather stations, the landscape of parks and other "green areas," the placement of hospitals or stores, etc.


Due to its isolation from the rest of the world, Australia and Oceania has an incredibly high number of endemic species, or species that are found nowhere else on Earth.Plants traveled between islands by riding wind or ocean currents. Those who study geography identify relationships between these varied subjects, graft those relationships onto a geographic space, and explain why certain systems are where they are.
The human system includes communities that live along the river, and their cultural and economic livelihoods. Understanding spatial distribution is key to understanding how the natural and man-made processes on Earth relate to one another. Think about what local systems, structures, and planning methods are rooted in geographic knowledge.
A biome is a community of animals and plants that spreads over an area with a relatively uniform climate. Birds carried the seeds of fruits and plants and spread them between islands with their droppings. This combination is called "brackish water."Bayou vegetation ranges from tiny mosses to huge cypress trees. The biological system is the series of habitats and ecosystems created by the river.Any decision that impacts one system along the river will impact the other two. The other two major landmasses of Oceania are the microcontinent of Zealandia, which includes the country of New Zealand, and the western half of the island of New Guinea, made up of the nation of Papua New Guinea. Ferns, mosses, and some flowering plants rely on spores or seeds that can remain airborne for long distances.
Diverting the river might cause people to relocate (human system), wildlife to lose habitat (biological system), and contribute to the health of the watershed (physical system). Like most grassland biomes, the Llanos is the perfect habitat for many bird species, including the scarlet ibis, bellbird, and umbrellabird.
Coconut palms and mangroves, common throughout Australia and Oceania, produce seeds that can float on salty water for weeks at a time. All three spheres of influence are connected, and all three must be considered when making decisions as a geographer. Important flowering plants native to Australia and Oceania include the jacaranda, hibiscus, pohutukawa, and kowhai. It is about 603 kilometers (375 miles) long and contains more than 100 different species of fish.
Before railroad lines were constructed in the late 1800s, Bayou Bartholomew was an important waterway for transportation.Houston, Texas, one of the largest cities in the United States, was founded near Buffalo Bayou. Situated on the far western edge of the continent, the Andes stretch from the southern tip to the northernmost coast of South America. Along with the Uruguay River, the Paraná River empties into the Rio de la Plata estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. The islands in each group are formed in different ways and are made up of different materials. Birds are very common in Australia and Oceania because they are one of the few animals mobile enough to move from island to island. The bayou is still important to the city because it serves as a drainage basin for extra water during heavy rains. There are hundreds of peaks more than 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) tall, many of which are volcanic. Continental islands have a variety of physical features, while high and low islands are fairly uniform in their physical geography.Continental IslandsContinental islands were once attached to continents before sea level changes and tectonic activity isolated them. There are more than 110 endemic bird species in Australia and Oceania, including many seabirds. The highest peak in the Andes, Aconcagua, stands at 6,962 meters (22,841 feet) and straddles the Argentina-Chile border. Many flightless birds, such as emus, kiwis, cassowaries, wekas, and takahes, are native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.
Native Americans have lived in Bayou Country for more than a thousand years.Many Choctaw people, for instance, are native to Bayou Country. The Pacific Islands have more than 25 species of birds of paradise, which exhibit colorful plumage. Choctaw people relied on the rivers and bayous of the Gulf Coast for shelter and food, such as fish, shrimp, and birds.
Lizards and bats make up the majority of Australia and Oceania’s native land animals.
The altiplano of Peru and Bolivia, for example, has an elevation of about 3,700 meters (12,300 feet). These highlands are fold mountains, created as tectonic plates pressed together and pushed land upward. Wooded bayous also provided protection during times of conflict.Today, many Native Americans retain close ties to Bayou Country.
The Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile consists of lower-elevation plateaus and rugged glaciers.Most plants in the alpine biome are small, and their leaves are stiff and strong to protect them from frost and drought.
South American coastal plains are found on the northeastern coast of Brazil, on the Atlantic Ocean, and the western, Pacific coast of Peru and Chile.
New Zealand and Papua New Guinea also have volcanic features as a result of tectonic activity. Australia and Oceania has more than a hundred different species of fruit bats.The few native land animals in Australia and Oceania are unusual. The United Houma Nation, native to southern Louisiana, has the crawfish as its official emblem, for instance.
Although they share some landscape features, each of these regions has distinct physical features that resulted from different environmental processes.
Australia and Oceania is the only place in the world that is home to monotremes—mammals that lay eggs.
The Brazilian Highlands act as a wedge that pushes moist sea winds away from the coastal plains.


Australia’s landscape is dominated by the Outback, a region of deserts and semi-arid land. Most homes can only be reached by boat, and the community's most important economic interests are fishing and shrimping.Bayou Country is also home to Cajun and Creole cultures.
The leaves of this endangered species all grow from one woody stem, allowing moisture to run down the leaves to the base of the plant. The Outback is a result of the continent’s large inland plains, its location along the dry Tropic of Capricorn, and its proximity to cool, dry, southerly winds.
Cajuns trace their ancestors to French-speaking people from the southeastern part of Canada called Acadia. Outside the Andes, South America has two principal highland areas: the Brazilian Highlands and the Guiana Highlands. They are trapped between the cold Peru Current to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east. Located south of the Amazon River in Brazil, the Brazilian Highlands are made up of low mountains and plateaus that rise to an average elevation of 1,006 meters (3,300 feet).
This cold surface water results in thermal inversion: cold air at sea level and stable, warmer air higher up.
The heavily forested plateau of the Guiana Highlands covers southern Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, northern Brazil, and a portion of southeastern Colombia. The red kangaroo, the world’s largest marsupial, can grow up to 2 meters (6 feet) tall, and weigh as much as 100 kilograms (220 pounds). In the Americas, marsupials such as possums are much smaller.Marine Flora and Fauna The marine environment is an important and influential physical region in Australia and Oceania. In the early 1700s, "Creole" indicated a European person born in Louisiana, then a colony of France. The basin, which covers most of northern South America, is fed by tributaries from the glaciers of the Andes. This part of the Ring of Fire is on the boundary of the Pacific plate and the Australian plate.
The region is composed of three marine realms: Temperate Australasia, Central Indo-Pacific, and Eastern Indo-Pacific.
Soon, Creole was used to describe a mixed-race person from the region—someone with European, Native American and African (often slave) ancestry. Every second, the Amazon River empties 209,000 cubic meters (7,381,000 cubic feet) of freshwater into the Atlantic Ocean.The Amazon River is the life force of the equally vast Amazon rain forest, which makes up about half of the rain forest of the entire planet. Marine realms are large ocean regions where animal and plant life are similar because of shared environmental and evolutionary factors. In the 1800s, Creoles achieved power and property rights rare for mixed-race people in the rest of the United States.Bayou Country's Creole culture is a rich collection of diverse influences.
This tropical biome has as many as 100 different tree species on a single acre, including the rubber tree, silk cotton tree, and Brazil nut tree. The Temperate Australasia realm includes the seas surrounding the southern half of Australia and the islands of New Zealand. The music most associated with Creole culture is zydeco, a mixture of American jazz, Cajun folk, and African rhythms.
Other important plant species include palms, ferns, and ropelike vines known as lianas that network throughout the rain forest’s dense canopy. The average rainfall is about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches) a year, and some parts of the Atacama have never had rain in recorded history. Food, such as gumbo, also has African, Native American, and European influences.Both Cajun and Creole cultures are defined by the waterways of Bayou Country. The diversity of animal life in the Amazon rain forest is unsurpassed in the rest of the world. Its cold, nutrient-rich waters support a diversity of plants and fish that seabirds feed on. The bayous helped preserve and strengthen Cajun and Creole cultures by allowing the groups to interact with their family and maintain a sense of community. An atoll forms when a coral reef builds up around a volcanic island, then the volcanic island erodes away, leaving a lagoon. These seabirds include different species of albatross, petrel, and shearwater, as well as the Australasian gannet and rockhopper penguin.The Central Indo-Pacific realm includes the seas surrounding the northern half of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Until the 20th century, bayous along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River were vital for transportation, communication, and commerce. More than 2 million species of insects are native to the region, including hundreds of spiders and butterflies. Larger animal species are also rare, and include the grey fox, a type of deer called the huemul, and the viscacha—the largest member of the chinchilla family. Atolls are defined as one island even though they are made up of multiple communities of coral. The Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of northeast Australia, is 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 square miles).The Great Barrier Reef and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef are underwater hotspots for biodiversity. Thousands of native birds include brightly colored macaws, parrots, toucans, and parakeets. While Atacama lacks flora and fauna, it is a rich source of copper and a chief source of revenue for the Chilean economy. The Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, for example, is composed of 97 islands and islets that surround one of the largest lagoons in the world, with an area of 2,173 square kilometers (839 square miles). The New Caledonia Barrier Reef is home to 600 species of sponges, 5,500 species of mollusks, 5,000 species of crustaceans, and at least 1,000 species of fish.The Eastern Indo-Pacific realm surrounds the tropical islands of the central Pacific Ocean, extending from the Marshall Islands through central and southeastern Polynesia.
Like the Central Indo-Pacific realm, this realm is also known for its tropical coral formations.



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