• As climate plays an important role in the formation of grasslands, it is generally used as a basis to divide the world’s grasslands into two broad categories: those that occur in the temperate region and those that occur in the tropical regions.

The Prairies:

  • The temperate grasslands of N. America are called as the Prairies. It is a region of flat, gently sloping or hilly land.
  • The Prairies are bound by the Rocky mountains in the West and the Great lakes in the East.
  • The Prairies cover parts of USA and parts of Canada.
  • In the USA, the area is drained by the tributaries of Mississippi and the Canadian prairies are drained by the tributaries of Saskatchewan Rivers.
  • The grasslands of Prairies were the home of Native Americans often called “Red Indians”. They were the actual habitant of the continent. The prairies are were the home of other tribes also like the Apache, the Crow, the Cree and the Pawnee.


  • The climate is continental type with extreme temperatures.
  • Due to the absence of the north-south barrier, Chinook is a hot wind that blows in winter and therefore raises the temperature within a short time.

Flora and Fauna:

  • Where water is available, trees such as willows, alders and poplars grow.
  • Though the major crop of this area is maize, other crops including potatoes, soybean, cotton and alfa-alfa is also grown.
  • Large cattle farms called ranches are looked after sturdy men called cowboys.
  • Bison or the American Buffalo is the most important animal of this region. It nearly got extinct due to its indiscriminate hunting and is now a protected species.
  • The other animals found in this region are rabbits, coyotes, gophers and Prairie dog.


  • Important cities in the American Prairies are Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Kansas and Denver.
  • In the Canadian prairies the important cities are Edmonton, Saskatoon, Calgary and Winnipeg.
  • The Prairies are also known as the “Granaries of the world”, due to the huge surplus of wheat production.
  • Dairy farming is another major industry. The dairy belt extends from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast in the east.
  • Large mineral deposits particularly coal and iron and a good network of roads, railways and canals in this region have made it the most industrialized region in the world.

The Velds:

  • The temperate grasslands of S. Africa are called the Velds.
  • These are rolling plateaus with varying heights ranging from 600 m to 1100 m.
  • It is bound by the Drakensburg mountains on the east. To the west lies the Kalhari desert. on the northeastern part, “high velds” are located that attain a height of more than 1600 m, in some places.
  • The tributaries of the rivers Orange and Limpopo drain the region.


  • The velds have a mild climate due to the influence of the Indian Ocean.
  • Winters are cold and dry. Temperatures vary between 5o C and 10o July is the coldest month. Summers are short and warm.
  • The velds receive rainfall mainly in the summer months from November to February. This is mainly because of the warm ocean currents that wash the shores of the velds.

Flora and Fauna:

  • In the high velds acacia and maroola are seen to be growing.
  • The animals of the velds are primarily lions, leopards, cheetah and krudu.


  • Velds are known for cattle rearing and mining.
  • The main crops are maize, wheat, barley, oats and potato.
  • Cash crops like tobacco, sugarcane and cotton are also grown.
  • Sheep rearing is the most important occupation of the people.
  • Merino sheep is a popular species and their wool is very warm.
  • Dairy farming is the next important occupation.
  • The velds have rich reserve of minerals.
  • Iron and steel industry has developed where coal and iron are present.
  • Gold and diamond mining are major occupations of people of this region.
  • Johannesburg is known for being the gold capital of the world.
  • Kimberley is famous for its diamond mines.


Natural vegetation is generally classified into three broad categories as follows:

  • Forests: which grow where temperature and rainfall are plentiful to support a tree cover. Depending upon these factors, dense and open forests are grown.
  • Grasslands: which grow in the region of moderate rain.
  • Shrubs: Thorny shrubs and scrubs grown in the dry region.

The changes in the type of natural vegetation occur mainly because of the changes in the climatic condition.


Tropical Evergreen Forests:

  • Also called as tropical rain forests.
  • Occur in the regions near to equator and close to the tropics.
  • Hardwood trees like rosewood, ebony, mahogany are common here.

Tropical deciduous forests:

  • Are the monsoon forests found in large part of India, N. Australia and in Central America.
  • The hardwood trees found in these forests are sal, teak, neem and shisham.
  • Tigers, lions, elephants, langoors and monkeys are the common animals of these regions.

Temperate Evergreen forests:

  • These are located in the mid-latitudinal coastal region. They are commonly found along the eastern margin of the continents, e.g., In South east USA, S.China and in SE Brazil.
  • They comprise both hard and soft wood trees like oak, pine, eucalyptus, etc.

Temperate Deciduous Forests:

  • These are found in the NE part of USA, China, New Zealand, Chile and also found in the coastal regions of W.Europe.
  • The common trees are oak, ash, beech etc.
  • Deer, foxes, wolves are the commonly found animals. Birds like pheasants, monals are also found here.

Mediterranean Vegetation:

  • The west and south west margins of the continents have this vegetation.
  • Mostly found in the areas around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, Africa and Asia, hence the name.
  • These regions are marked for hot dry summers and mild rainy winters.
  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, figs, olives and grapes are commonly cultivated.
  • These regions are known as ‘Orchards of the world’ for their fruit cultivation.

Coniferous forests:

  • These forests are seen in the higher latitudes.
  • These are also called as Taiga.
  • The trees are tall, softwood evergreen trees. The woods of these trees are very useful for making pulp, which is used for manufacturing paper and newsprint.
  • Match boxes and packing boxes are also made from softwood.
  • Chir, pine, cedar are the important variety of trees in these forests.
  • Silver fox, mink, polar bear are the common animals found here.

Tropical grasslands:

  • These occur on either side of the equator and extend till the tropics.
  • This vegetation grows in the areas of moderate to low amount of rainfall. Ex: Savanna grasslands of Africa
  • Elephants, Zebras, giraffes, deer, leopards are common here.
  • Tropical Grasslands in East Africa are called Savannahs.
  • They are called Campos in Brazil
  • They are called Llanos in Venezuela

Temperate Grasslands:

  • These are found in the mid-latitudinal zones in the interior part of the continents.
  • Wild buffaloes, bisons, antelopes are common here.
  • The temperate grasslands of Argentina are called Pampas.
  • They are called Prairie in N.America
  • They are called Veld in S.Africa
  • They are called Steppe in C.Asia
  • They are called Down in Australia.

Thorny bushes:

  • The vegetation cover is scarce because of scanty rain and scorching heat.

Tundra Vegetation:

  • This is extremely cold.
  • The growth of vegetation is very limited here.
  • Only mosses, lichens and very small shrubs are found here. It grows only during the very short summer.
  • This is found in the polar areas of Europe, Asia and N.America.
  • Seal, walruses, musk-oxen, Arctic owl, Polar bear and snow foxes are some of the animals found here.