You don’t have to be able to locate all the world’s countries to do well with MAT geography analogies, but the more familiar you are with a map of the world or a globe, the better. In fact, you may want to put up a map on the wall of your study room and check it out when you need a break from studying.

It’s impossible to define every geographical term in the world, but the following ones get you started.

  • 38th parallel north: Line of latitude that divided Korea after World War II

  • Adriatic Sea: Water that separates Italy from the Balkan peninsula

  • Aegean Sea: Water that separates Greece and Turkey

  • Alps: Mountain range in Europe; contains Mount Blanc and the Matterhorn

  • Amazon River: Second-longest river in the world, located in South America; greatest waterflow

  • Andes: Longest mountain range in the world, located in South America

  • Antarctic Circle: Line of latitude, south of which experiences a period of 24-hour sunlight

  • Appalachian Mountains: Mountain range in eastern North America

  • Arabian Sea: Branch of Indian Ocean between India, the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia

  • Arctic Circle: Line of latitude, north of which experiences a period of 24-hour sunlight

  • Atlas Mountains: Mountain range in northwest Africa

  • Black Sea: Large sea separating parts of Europe and Asia

  • Cartography: The making of maps

  • Caspian Sea: Largest inland body of water, located in Asia

  • Chesapeake Bay: Largest estuary in the United States, bordered by Maryland and Virginia

  • Coordinates: A position on a map, specified by latitude and longitude, ex: 41N 73W

  • Death Valley: Desert in California; hottest and lowest location in North America

  • El Niño–Southern Oscillation: A climate pattern where the temperature of the tropical Pacific Ocean warms about every five years

  • English Channel: Water separating France from Great Britain

  • Equator: Line of latitude on Earth’s surface midway between the North Pole and the South Poles

  • Erie Canal: Completed in 1825; connects the Atlantic Ocean with Lake Erie via the Hudson River through New York and New Jersey

  • Everglades: Wetlands in Florida

  • Gaza Strip: Home to many Palestinian refugees; borders Egypt and Israel

  • Great Lakes: Five freshwater lakes on the U.S.–Canada border: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario

  • Great Salt Lake: Largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere; located in Utah

  • Himalayas: World’s highest mountain range, located in Asia; contains Mount Everest

  • Hudson River: South-flowing river in New York, forms a barrier between New York and New Jersey at its bottom end

  • Iberian Peninsula: Region of southwestern Europe containing Spain, Portugal, and Andorra

  • International Date Line: Invisible line from the North Pole to the South Pole that separates one day from the next

  • Kalahari Desert: Desert in southern Africa

  • Kremlin: Moscow residence of the president of Russia

  • La Niña: A climate pattern where the temperature of the tropical Pacific Ocean cools about every five years

  • Lake Titicaca: Largest lake in South America

  • Lake Victoria: Largest lake in Africa

  • Latitude: The east–west lines on a map that specify north–south position

  • Longitude: The north–south lines on a map that specify east–west position

  • Louisiana Purchase: The 1803 sale of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States

  • Mediterranean Sea: Sea between Europe and Africa

  • Mesopotamia: Location of the cradle of civilization; modern-day Iraq

  • Mississippi River: Largest river system in North America; flows south through the United States

  • Missouri River: Longest river in North America

  • Mount Everest: Tallest mountain in the world, on the China–Nepal border

  • Mount Kilimanjaro: Tallest mountain in Africa (Tanzania)

  • Mount McKinley: Tallest mountain in North America (Alaska)

  • Mount Rushmore: Mountainside sculpture of four U.S. presidents in South Dakota

  • Niagara Falls: Three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls) on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York

  • Nile: Longest river in the world; flows north through Africa

  • Oceania: Large portion of the Pacific Ocean containing thousands of islands

  • Oregon Trail: East-West wagon trail used by emigrants, traders, trappers, explorers, and pioneers, connecting the Missouri River to Oregon

  • Pacific Ring of Fire: Area around the Pacific Ocean where most earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place

  • Panama Canal: Located in the Central American country of Panama, it was completed in 1914; connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans

  • Pangaea: An ancient super-continent; from the Greek “pan” meaning entire and “gaea” meaning Earth

  • Persian Gulf: Part of the Indian Ocean between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula

  • Prime meridian: The line of longitude set at 0 degrees; goes through Greenwich, England

  • River Thames: Longest river in England; flows through London

  • Sahara: Largest desert in the world, located in Africa

  • Scandinavia: Region of northern Europe containing Denmark, Norway, and Sweden

  • Siberia: Huge region comprising most of north Asia, location of many Soviet labor camps (Gulag camps)

  • Strait of Magellan: Connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans south of mainland South America

  • Suez Canal: Completed in 1869; connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea

  • Tibet: Region of China northeast of the Himalayas

  • Tropic of Cancer: Line of latitude that is the most northerly place the sun can be overhead

  • Tropic of Capricorn: Line of latitude that is the most southerly place the sun can be overhead

  • Volga: Longest river in Europe, it runs through Central Russia