Geography and History of the World © 2010 Indiana Edition

Chapter 23: Physical Geography of South Asia

Chapter Overviews

The subcontinent of South Asia is separated from the rest of Asia by mountains and forms a distinct landmass. The region has varied landforms and climate regions dominated by monsoons.

The Land South Asia is touched by three bodies of water—the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. The tallest mountains of the world, including the Himalaya, are in the north. Other ranges separate plateaus, and islands lie off the tip of India. Three major river systems—the Brahmaputra, Indus, and Ganges—are the key to life in the region, providing alluvial soil, drinking water, transportation, and hydroelectric power. Although the region has petroleum reserves, South Asia relies on other energy sources and imported oil. Other resources include mica, graphite, and timber.

Climate and Vegetation Most of South Asia has tropical and subtropical climates with diverse vegetation, including rain forests and savannas. Little vegetation can survive in the higher altitudes of the highlands, while in more temperate zones trees flourish. Dry climates are found along the lower Indus River and on the Deccan Plateau. Seasonal winds called monsoons determine the three seasons of the regions. Areas outside the path of the monsoons receive little or no rainfall. The rains of the monsoons and other violent storms can cause flooding.

Earthquakes and tsunami’s are also hazards in the region. In October 2005, 70,000 people died in Pakistan and Kashmir from an earthquake. In December 2004, 30,000 people in Sri Lanka were killed by a tsunami.

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