This entry contains a brief description of the topography.

  • Afghanistan

    mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

  • Albania

    mostly mountains and hills; small plains along coast

  • Algeria

    mostly high plateau and desert; Atlas Mountains in the far north and Hoggar Mountains in the south; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

  • American Samoa

    five volcanic islands with rugged peaks and limited coastal plains, two coral atolls (Rose Atoll, Swains Island)

  • Andorra

    rugged mountains dissected by narrow valleys

  • Angola

    narrow coastal plain rises abruptly to vast interior plateau

  • Anguilla

    flat and low-lying island of coral and limestone

  • Antarctica

    about 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 m; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 m; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsula area, and parts of Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of the coastline, and floating ice shelves constitute 11% of the area of the continent

  • Antigua and Barbuda

    mostly low-lying limestone and coral islands, with some higher volcanic areas

  • Arctic Ocean

    central surface covered by a perennial drifting polar icepack that, on average, is about 3 m thick, although pressure ridges may be three times that thickness; the icepack is surrounded by open seas during the summer, but more than doubles in size during the winter and extends to the encircling landmasses; the ocean floor is about 50% continental shelf (highest percentage of any ocean) with the remainder a central basin interrupted by three submarine ridges (Alpha Cordillera, Nansen Cordillera, and Lomonosov Ridge)

    major surface currents: two major, slow-moving, wind-driven currents (drift streams) dominate: a clockwise drift pattern in the Beaufort Gyre in the western part of the Arctic Ocean and a nearly straight line Transpolar Drift Stream that moves eastward across the ocean from the New Siberian Islands (Russia) to the Fram Strait (between Greenland and Svalbard); sea ice that lies close to the center of the gyre can complete a 360 degree circle in about 2 years, while ice on the gyre periphery will complete the same circle in about 7-8 years; sea ice in the Transpolar Drift crosses the ocean in about 3 years

  • Argentina

    rich plains of the Pampas in northern half, flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia in south, rugged Andes along western border

  • Armenia

    Armenian Highland with mountains; little forest land; fast flowing rivers; good soil in Aras River valley

  • Aruba

    flat with a few hills; scant vegetation

  • Ashmore and Cartier Islands

    low with sand and coral

  • Atlantic Ocean

    surface usually covered with sea ice in Labrador Sea, Denmark Strait, and coastal portions of the Baltic Sea from October to June; surface dominated by two large gyres (broad, circular systems of currents), one in the northern Atlantic and another in the southern Atlantic; the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin

    major surface currents: clockwise North Atlantic Gyre consists of the northward flowing, warm Gulf Stream in the west, the eastward flowing North Atlantic Current in the north, the southward flowing cold Canary Current in the east, and the westward flowing North Equatorial Current in the south; the counterclockwise South Atlantic Gyre composed of the southward flowing warm Brazil Current in the west, the eastward flowing South Atlantic Current in the south, the northward flowing cold Benguela Current in the east, and the westward flowing South Equatorial Current in the north

  • Australia

    mostly low plateau with deserts; fertile plain in southeast

  • Austria

    mostly mountains (Alps) in the west and south; mostly flat or gently sloping along the eastern and northern margins

  • Azerbaijan

    large, flat Kur-Araz Ovaligi (Kura-Araks Lowland, much of it below sea level) with Great Caucasus Mountains to the north, Qarabag Yaylasi (Karabakh Upland) to the west; Baku lies on Abseron Yasaqligi (Apsheron Peninsula) that juts into Caspian Sea

  • Bahamas, The

    long, flat coral formations with some low rounded hills

  • Bahrain

    mostly low desert plain rising gently to low central escarpment

  • Bangladesh

    mostly flat alluvial plain; hilly in southeast

  • Barbados

    relatively flat; rises gently to central highland region

  • Belarus

    generally flat with much marshland

  • Belgium

    flat coastal plains in northwest, central rolling hills, rugged mountains of Ardennes Forest in southeast

  • Belize

    flat, swampy coastal plain; low mountains in south

  • Benin

    mostly flat to undulating plain; some hills and low mountains

  • Bermuda

    low hills separated by fertile depressions

  • Bhutan

    mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna

  • Bolivia

    rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

    mountains and valleys

  • Botswana

    predominantly flat to gently rolling tableland; Kalahari Desert in southwest

  • Bouvet Island

    volcanic; coast is mostly inaccessible

  • Brazil

    mostly flat to rolling lowlands in north; some plains, hills, mountains, and narrow coastal belt

  • British Indian Ocean Territory

    flat and low (most areas do not exceed two m in elevation)

  • British Virgin Islands

    coral islands relatively flat; volcanic islands steep, hilly

  • Brunei

    flat coastal plain rises to mountains in east; hilly lowland in west

  • Bulgaria

    mostly mountains with lowlands in north and southeast

  • Burkina Faso

    Mostly flat to dissected, undulating plains; hills in the west and southeast.  Occupies an extensive plateau with savanna that is grassy in the north and gradually gives way to sparse forests in the south. (2019)

  • Burma

    central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged highlands

  • Burundi

    hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains

  • Cabo Verde

    steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic

  • Cambodia

    mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north

  • Cameroon

    diverse, with coastal plain in southwest, dissected plateau in center, mountains in west, plains in north

  • Canada

    mostly plains with mountains in west, lowlands in southeast

  • Cayman Islands

    low-lying limestone base surrounded by coral reefs

  • Central African Republic

    vast, flat to rolling plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest

  • Chad

    broad, arid plains in center, desert in north, mountains in northwest, lowlands in south

  • Chile

    low coastal mountains, fertile central valley, rugged Andes in east

  • China

    mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east

  • Christmas Island

    steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau

  • Clipperton Island

    coral atoll

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands

    flat, low-lying coral atolls

  • Colombia

    flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains (Llanos)

  • Comoros

    volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills

  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the

    vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east

  • Congo, Republic of the

    coastal plain, southern basin, central plateau, northern basin

  • Cook Islands

    low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south

  • Coral Sea Islands

    sand and coral reefs and islands (cays)

  • Costa Rica

    coastal plains separated by rugged mountains including over 100 volcanic cones, of which several are major active volcanoes

  • Cote d'Ivoire

    mostly flat to undulating plains; mountains in northwest

  • Croatia

    geographically diverse; flat plains along Hungarian border, low mountains and highlands near Adriatic coastline and islands

  • Cuba

    mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast

  • Curacao

    generally low, hilly terrain

  • Cyprus

    central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast

  • Czechia

    Bohemia in the west consists of rolling plains, hills, and plateaus surrounded by low mountains; Moravia in the east consists of very hilly country

  • Denmark

    low and flat to gently rolling plains

  • Djibouti

    coastal plain and plateau separated by central mountains

  • Dominica

    rugged mountains of volcanic origin

  • Dominican Republic

    rugged highlands and mountains interspersed with fertile valleys

  • Ecuador

    coastal plain (costa), inter-Andean central highlands (sierra), and flat to rolling eastern jungle (oriente)

  • Egypt

    vast desert plateau interrupted by Nile valley and delta

  • El Salvador

    mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau

  • Equatorial Guinea

    coastal plains rise to interior hills; islands are volcanic

  • Eritrea

    dominated by extension of Ethiopian north-south trending highlands, descending on the east to a coastal desert plain, on the northwest to hilly terrain and on the southwest to flat-to-rolling plains

  • Estonia

    marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south

  • Eswatini

    mostly mountains and hills; some moderately sloping plains

  • Ethiopia

    high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley

  • European Union

    fairly flat along Baltic and Atlantic coasts; mountainous in the central and southern areas

  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

    rocky, hilly, mountainous with some boggy, undulating plains

  • Faroe Islands

    rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast

  • Fiji

    mostly mountains of volcanic origin

  • Finland

    mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills

  • France

    metropolitan France: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east;

    French Guiana: low-lying coastal plains rising to hills and small mountains;

    Guadeloupe: Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin;

    Martinique: mountainous with indented coastline; dormant volcano;

    Mayotte: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks;

    Reunion: mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast

  • French Polynesia

    mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs

  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands

    Ile Amsterdam (Ile Amsterdam et Ile Saint-Paul): a volcanic island with steep coastal cliffs; the center floor of the volcano is a large plateau;

    Ile Saint-Paul (Ile Amsterdam et Ile Saint-Paul): triangular in shape, the island is the top of a volcano, rocky with steep cliffs on the eastern side; has active thermal springs;

    Iles Crozet: a large archipelago formed from the Crozet Plateau is divided into two groups of islands;

    Iles Kerguelen: the interior of the large island of Ile Kerguelen is composed of high mountains, hills, valleys, and plains with peninsulas stretching off its coasts;

    Bassas da India (Iles Eparses): atoll, awash at high tide; shallow (15 m) lagoon;

    Europa Island, Glorioso Islands, Juan de Nova Island: low, flat, and sandy;

    Tromelin Island (Iles Eparses): low, flat, sandy; likely volcanic seamount

  • Gabon

    narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south

  • Gambia, The

    flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

  • Gaza Strip

    flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain

  • Georgia

    largely mountainous with Great Caucasus Mountains in the north and Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the south; Kolkhet'is Dablobi (Kolkhida Lowland) opens to the Black Sea in the west; Mtkvari River Basin in the east; fertile soils in river valley flood plains and foothills of Kolkhida Lowland

  • Germany

    lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south

  • Ghana

    mostly low plains with dissected plateau in south-central area

  • Gibraltar

    a narrow coastal lowland borders the Rock of Gibraltar

  • Greece

    mountainous with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

  • Greenland

    flat to gradually sloping icecap covers all but a narrow, mountainous, barren, rocky coast

  • Grenada

    volcanic in origin with central mountains

  • Guam

    volcanic origin, surrounded by coral reefs; relatively flat coralline limestone plateau (source of most fresh water), with steep coastal cliffs and narrow coastal plains in north, low hills in center, mountains in south

  • Guatemala

    two east-west trending mountain chains divide the country into three regions: the mountainous highlands, the Pacific coast south of mountains, and the vast northern Peten lowlands

  • Guernsey

    mostly flat with low hills in southwest

  • Guinea

    generally flat coastal plain, hilly to mountainous interior

  • Guinea-Bissau

    mostly low-lying coastal plain with a deeply indented estuarine coastline rising to savanna in east; numerous off-shore islands including the Arquipelago Dos Bijagos consisting of 18 main islands and many small islets

  • Guyana

    mostly rolling highlands; low coastal plain; savanna in south

  • Haiti

    mostly rough and mountainous

  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands

    Heard Island - 80% ice-covered, bleak and mountainous, dominated by a large massif (Big Ben) and an active volcano (Mawson Peak); McDonald Islands - small and rocky

  • Holy See (Vatican City)

    urban; low hill

  • Honduras

    mostly mountains in interior, narrow coastal plains

  • Hong Kong

    hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north

  • Hungary

    mostly flat to rolling plains; hills and low mountains on the Slovakian border

  • Iceland

    mostly plateau interspersed with mountain peaks, icefields; coast deeply indented by bays and fiords

  • India

    upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, Himalayas in north

  • Indian Ocean

    surface dominated by a major gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the southern Indian Ocean and a unique reversal of surface currents in the northern Indian Ocean; ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and subdivided by the Southeast Indian Ocean Ridge, Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge, and Ninetyeast Ridge

    major surface currents: the counterclockwise Indian Ocean Gyre comprised of the southward flowing warm Agulhas and East Madagascar Currents in the west, the eastward flowing South Indian Current in the south, the northward flowing cold West Australian Current in the east, and the westward flowing South Equatorial Current in the north; a distinctive annual reversal of surface currents occurs in the northern Indian Ocean; low atmospheric pressure over southwest Asia from hot, rising, summer air results in the southwest monsoon and southwest-to-northeast winds and clockwise currents, while high pressure over northern Asia from cold, falling, winter air results in the northeast monsoon and northeast-to-southwest winds and counterclockwise currents

  • Indonesia

    mostly coastal lowlands; larger islands have interior mountains

  • Iran

    rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts

  • Iraq

    mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey

  • Ireland

    mostly flat to rolling interior plain surrounded by rugged hills and low mountains; sea cliffs on west coast

  • Isle of Man

    hills in north and south bisected by central valley

  • Israel

    Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley

  • Italy

    mostly rugged and mountainous; some plains, coastal lowlands

  • Jamaica

    mostly mountains, with narrow, discontinuous coastal plain

  • Jan Mayen

    volcanic island, partly covered by glaciers

  • Japan

    mostly rugged and mountainous

  • Jersey

    gently rolling plain with low, rugged hills along north coast

  • Jordan

    mostly arid desert plateau; a great north-south geological rift along the west of the country is the dominant topographical feature and includes the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, and the Jordanian Highlands

  • Kazakhstan

    vast flat steppe extending from the Volga in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east and from the plains of western Siberia in the north to oases and deserts of Central Asia in the south

  • Kenya

    low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west

  • Kiribati

    mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs

  • Korea, North

    mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; wide coastal plains in west, discontinuous in east

  • Korea, South

    mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south

  • Kosovo

    flat fluvial basin at an elevation of 400-700 m above sea level surrounded by several high mountain ranges with elevations of 2,000 to 2,500 m

  • Kuwait

    flat to slightly undulating desert plain

  • Kyrgyzstan

    peaks of the Tien Shan mountain range and associated valleys and basins encompass the entire country

  • Laos

    mostly rugged mountains; some plains and plateaus

  • Latvia

    low plain

  • Lebanon

    narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

  • Lesotho

    mostly highland with plateaus, hills, and mountains

  • Liberia

    mostly flat to rolling coastal plains rising to rolling plateau and low mountains in northeast

  • Libya

    mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, depressions

  • Liechtenstein

    mostly mountainous (Alps) with Rhine Valley in western third

  • Lithuania

    lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil

  • Luxembourg

    mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys; uplands to slightly mountainous in the north; steep slope down to Moselle flood plain in the southeast

  • Macau

    generally flat

  • Madagascar

    narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center

  • Malawi

    narrow elongated plateau with rolling plains, rounded hills, some mountains

  • Malaysia

    coastal plains rising to hills and mountains

  • Maldives

    flat, with white sandy beaches

  • Mali

    mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast

  • Malta

    mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs

  • Marshall Islands

    low coral limestone and sand islands

  • Mauritania

    mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills

  • Mauritius

    small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau

  • Mexico

    high, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; desert

  • Micronesia, Federated States of

    islands vary geologically from high mountainous islands to low, coral atolls; volcanic outcroppings on Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk

  • Moldova

    rolling steppe, gradual slope south to Black Sea

  • Monaco

    hilly, rugged, rocky

  • Mongolia

    vast semidesert and desert plains, grassy steppe, mountains in west and southwest; Gobi Desert in south-central

  • Montenegro

    highly indented coastline with narrow coastal plain backed by rugged high limestone mountains and plateaus

  • Montserrat

    volcanic island, mostly mountainous, with small coastal lowland

  • Morocco

    mountainous northern coast (Rif Mountains) and interior (Atlas Mountains) bordered by large plateaus with intermontane valleys, and fertile coastal plains; the south is mostly low, flat desert with large areas of rocky or sandy surfaces 

  • Mozambique

    mostly coastal lowlands, uplands in center, high plateaus in northwest, mountains in west

  • Namibia

    mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east

  • Nauru

    sandy beach rises to fertile ring around raised coral reefs with phosphate plateau in center

  • Navassa Island

    raised flat to undulating coral and limestone plateau; ringed by vertical white cliffs (9 to 15 m high)

  • Nepal

    Tarai or flat river plain of the Ganges in south; central hill region with rugged Himalayas in north

  • Netherlands

    mostly coastal lowland and reclaimed land (polders); some hills in southeast

  • New Caledonia

    coastal plains with interior mountains

  • New Zealand

    predominately mountainous with large coastal plains

  • Nicaragua

    extensive Atlantic coastal plains rising to central interior mountains; narrow Pacific coastal plain interrupted by volcanoes

  • Niger

    predominately desert plains and sand dunes; flat to rolling plains in south; hills in north

  • Nigeria

    southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north

  • Niue

    steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau

  • Norfolk Island

    volcanic island with mostly rolling plains

  • North Macedonia

    mountainous with deep basins and valleys; three large lakes, each divided by a frontier line; country bisected by the Vardar River

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    the southern islands in this north-south trending archipelago are limestone, with fringing coral reefs; the northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on several islands

  • Norway

    glaciated; mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys; small, scattered plains; coastline deeply indented by fjords; arctic tundra in north

  • Oman

    central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south

  • Pacific Ocean

    surface dominated by two large gyres (broad, circular systems of currents), one in the northern Pacific and another in the southern Pacific; in the northern Pacific, sea ice forms in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in winter; in the southern Pacific, sea ice from Antarctica reaches its northernmost extent in October; the ocean floor in the eastern Pacific is dominated by the East Pacific Rise, while the western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, including the Mariana Trench, which is the world's deepest at 10,924 m

    major surface currents: clockwise North Pacific Gyre formed by the warm northward flowing Kuroshio Current in the west, the eastward flowing North Pacific Current in the north, the southward flowing cold California Current in the east, and the westward flowing North Equatorial Current in the south; the counterclockwise South Pacific Gyre composed of the southward flowing warm East Australian Current in the west, the eastward flowing South Pacific Current in the south, the northward flowing cold Peru (Humbolt) Current in the east, and the westward flowing South Equatorial Current in the north

  • Pakistan

    divided into three major geographic areas: the northern highlands, the Indus River plain in the center and east, and the Balochistan Plateau in the south and west

  • Palau

    varying topography from the high, mountainous main island of Babelthuap to low, coral islands usually fringed by large barrier reefs

  • Panama

    interior mostly steep, rugged mountains with dissected, upland plains; coastal plains with rolling hills

  • Papua New Guinea

    mostly mountains with coastal lowlands and rolling foothills

  • Paracel Islands

    mostly low and flat

  • Paraguay

    grassy plains and wooded hills east of Rio Paraguay; Gran Chaco region west of Rio Paraguay mostly low, marshy plain near the river, and dry forest and thorny scrub elsewhere

  • Peru

    western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)

  • Philippines

    mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands

  • Pitcairn Islands

    rugged volcanic formation; rocky coastline with cliffs

  • Poland

    mostly flat plain; mountains along southern border

  • Portugal

    the west-flowing Tagus River divides the country: the north is mountainous toward the interior, while the south is characterized by rolling plains

  • Puerto Rico

    mostly mountains with coastal plain in north; precipitous mountains to the sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas

  • Qatar

    mostly flat and barren desert

  • Romania

    central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Moldavian Plateau on the east by the Eastern Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps

  • Russia

    broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions

  • Rwanda

    mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east

  • Saint Barthelemy

    hilly, almost completely surrounded by shallow-water reefs, with plentiful beaches

  • Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha

    the islands of this group are of volcanic origin associated with the Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge

    Saint Helena: rugged, volcanic; small scattered plateaus and plains;

    Ascension: surface covered by lava flows and cinder cones of 44 dormant volcanoes; terrain rises to the east;

    Tristan da Cunha: sheer cliffs line the coastline of the nearly circular island; the flanks of the central volcanic peak are deeply dissected; narrow coastal plain lies between The Peak and the coastal cliffs

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis

    volcanic with mountainous interiors

  • Saint Lucia

    volcanic and mountainous with broad, fertile valleys

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon

    mostly barren rock

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

    volcanic, mountainous

  • Samoa

    two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rugged mountains in interior

  • San Marino

    rugged mountains

  • Sao Tome and Principe

    volcanic, mountainous

  • Saudi Arabia

    mostly sandy desert

  • Senegal

    generally low, rolling, plains rising to foothills in southeast

  • Serbia

    extremely varied; to the north, rich fertile plains; to the east, limestone ranges and basins; to the southeast, ancient mountains and hills

  • Seychelles

    Mahe Group is volcanic with a narrow coastal strip and rocky, hilly interior; others are coral, flat, elevated reefs

  • Sierra Leone

    coastal belt of mangrove swamps, wooded hill country, upland plateau, mountains in east

  • Singapore

    lowlying, gently undulating central plateau

  • Sint Maarten

    low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin

  • Slovakia

    rugged mountains in the central and northern part and lowlands in the south

  • Slovenia

    a short southwestern coastal strip of Karst topography on the Adriatic; an alpine mountain region lies adjacent to Italy and Austria in the north; mixed mountains and valleys with numerous rivers to the east

  • Solomon Islands

    mostly rugged mountains with some low coral atolls

  • Somalia

    mostly flat to undulating plateau rising to hills in north

  • South Africa

    vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

    most of the islands are rugged and mountainous rising steeply from the sea; South Georgia is largely barren with steep, glacier-covered mountains; the South Sandwich Islands are of volcanic origin with some active volcanoes

  • South Sudan

    plains in the north and center rise to southern highlands along the border with Uganda and Kenya; the White Nile, flowing north out of the uplands of Central Africa, is the major geographic feature of the country; The Sudd (a name derived from floating vegetation that hinders navigation) is a large swampy area of more than 100,000 sq km fed by the waters of the White Nile that dominates the center of the country

  • Southern Ocean

    the Southern Ocean is 4,000 to 5,000-m deep over most of its extent with only limited areas of shallow water; the Antarctic continental shelf is generally narrow and unusually deep, its edge lying at depths of 400 to 800 m (the global mean is 133 m); the Antarctic icepack grows from an average minimum of 2.6 million sq km in March to about 18.8 million sq km in September, better than a sixfold increase in area

    major surface currents: the cold, clockwise-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar Current (West Wind Drift; 21,000 km long) moves perpetually eastward around the continent and is the world's largest and strongest ocean current, transporting 130 million cubic meters of water per second - 100 times the flow of all the world's rivers; it is also the only current that flows all the way around the planet and connects the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans; the cold Antarctic Coastal Current (East Wind Drift) is the southernmost current in the world, flowing westward and parallel to the Antarctic coastline

  • Spain

    large, flat to dissected plateau surrounded by rugged hills; Pyrenees Mountains in north

  • Spratly Islands

    small, flat islands, islets, cays, and reefs

  • Sri Lanka

    mostly low, flat to rolling plain; mountains in south-central interior

  • Sudan

    generally flat, featureless plain; desert dominates the north

  • Suriname

    mostly rolling hills; narrow coastal plain with swamps

  • Svalbard

    rugged mountains; much of the upland areas are ice covered; west coast clear of ice about half the year; fjords along west and north coasts

  • Sweden

    mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands; mountains in west

  • Switzerland

    mostly mountains (Alps in south, Jura in northwest) with a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes

  • Syria

    primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west

  • Taiwan

    eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west

  • Tajikistan

    mountainous region dominated by the Trans-Alay Range in the north and the Pamirs in the southeast; western Fergana Valley in north, Kofarnihon and Vakhsh Valleys in southwest

  • Tanzania

    plains along coast; central plateau; highlands in north, south

  • Thailand

    central plain; Khorat Plateau in the east; mountains elsewhere

  • Timor-Leste


  • Togo

    gently rolling savanna in north; central hills; southern plateau; low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes

  • Tokelau

    low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons

  • Tonga

    mostly flat islands with limestone bedrock formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic rock

  • Trinidad and Tobago

    mostly plains with some hills and low mountains

  • Tunisia

    mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara

  • Turkey

    high central plateau (Anatolia); narrow coastal plain; several mountain ranges

  • Turkmenistan

    flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west

  • Turks and Caicos Islands

    low, flat limestone; extensive marshes and mangrove swamps

  • Tuvalu

    low-lying and narrow coral atolls

  • Uganda

    mostly plateau with rim of mountains

  • Ukraine

    mostly fertile plains (steppes) and plateaus, with mountains found only in the west (the Carpathians) or in the extreme south of the Crimean Peninsula

  • United Arab Emirates

    flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert; mountains in east

  • United Kingdom

    mostly rugged hills and low mountains; level to rolling plains in east and southeast

  • United States

    vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii

  • United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges

    low and nearly flat sandy coral islands with narrow fringing reefs that have developed at the top of submerged volcanic mountains, which in most cases rise steeply from the ocean floor

  • Uruguay

    mostly rolling plains and low hills; fertile coastal lowland

  • Uzbekistan

    mostly flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river valleys along course of Amu Darya, Syr Darya (Sirdaryo), and Zarafshon; Fergana Valley in east surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; shrinking Aral Sea in west

  • Vanuatu

    mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin; narrow coastal plains

  • Venezuela

    Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast

  • Vietnam

    low, flat delta in south and north; central highlands; hilly, mountainous in far north and northwest

  • Virgin Islands

    mostly hilly to rugged and mountainous with little flat land

  • Wake Island

    atoll of three low coral islands, Peale, Wake, and Wilkes, built up on an underwater volcano; central lagoon is former crater, islands are part of the rim

  • Wallis and Futuna

    volcanic origin; low hills

  • West Bank

    mostly rugged, dissected upland in west, flat plains descending to Jordan River Valley to the east

  • World

    tremendous variation of terrain on each of the continents; check the World 'Elevation' entry for a compilation of terrain extremes; the world's ocean floors are marked by mid-ocean ridges while the ocean surfaces form a dynamic, continuously changing environment; check the 'Terrain' field and its 'major surface currents' and 'ocean zones' subfields under each of the five ocean (Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern) entries for further information on oceanic environs

    Ten Cave Superlatives: compiled from "Geography - note(s)" under various country entries where more details may be found

    largest cave: Son Doong in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam is the world's largest cave (greatest cross sectional area) and is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume; it currently measures a total of 38.5 million cu m (about 1.35 billion cu ft); it connects to Thung cave (but not yet officially); when recognized, it will add an additional 1.6 million cu m in volume

    largest ice cave:
    the Eisriesenwelt (Ice Giants World) inside the Hochkogel mountain near Werfen, Austria is the world's largest and longest ice cave system at 42 km (26 mi)

    longest cave:
    Mammoth Cave, in west-central Kentucky, is the world's longest known cave system with more than 650 km (405 mi) of surveyed passageways

    longest salt cave: the Malham Cave in Mount Sodom in Israel is the world's longest salt cave at 10 km (6 mi); its survey is not complete and its length will undoubtedly increase

    longest underwater cave: the Sac Actun cave system in Mexico at 348 km (216 mi) is the longest underwater cave in the world and the second longest cave worldwide

    longest lava tube cave: Kazumura Cave on the island of Hawaii is the world's longest and deepest lava tube cave; it has been surveyed at 66 km (41 mi) long and 1,102 m (3,614 ft) deep

    deepest cave: Veryovkina Cave in the Caucasus country of Georgia is the world's deepest cave, plunging down 2,212 m (7,257 ft)

    deepest underwater cave: the Hranice Abyss in Czechia is the world's deepest surveyed underwater cave at 404 m (1,325 ft); its survey is not complete and it could end up being some 800-1,200 m deep

    largest cave chamber: the Miao Room in the Gebihe cave system at China's Ziyun Getu He Chuandong National Park encloses some 10.78 million cu m (380.7 million cu ft) of volume

    largest bat cave: Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio, Texas is the world's largest bat cave; it is the summer home to the largest colony of bats in the world; an estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats roost in the cave from March to October making it the world's largest known concentration of mammals

  • Yemen

    narrow coastal plain backed by flat-topped hills and rugged mountains; dissected upland desert plains in center slope into the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula

  • Zambia

    mostly high plateau with some hills and mountains

  • Zimbabwe

    mostly high plateau with higher central plateau (high veld); mountains in east