Great Plains

Great Plains

Overview
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

, steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 and grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

, which lies west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. This area covers parts of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and the Canadian provinces
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. The Canadian portion of the Plains is known as the Prairies
Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are largely covered...

. Some geographers include some territory of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Plains, but many stop at the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

.

The term "Great Plains" is used in the United States to describe a sub-section of the even more vast Interior Plains
Interior Plains
The Interior Plains is a vast physiographic region that spreads across the Laurentian craton of central North America.-Geography:The Interior Plains are an extensive physiographic division encompassing 8 distinct physiographic provinces, the Interior Low Plateaus, Great Plains, Central Lowland,...

 physiographic division, which covers much of the interior of North America.
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Encyclopedia
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

, steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

 and grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

, which lies west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and east of the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. This area covers parts of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and the Canadian provinces
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. The Canadian portion of the Plains is known as the Prairies
Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are largely covered...

. Some geographers include some territory of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Plains, but many stop at the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

.

Usage


The term "Great Plains" is used in the United States to describe a sub-section of the even more vast Interior Plains
Interior Plains
The Interior Plains is a vast physiographic region that spreads across the Laurentian craton of central North America.-Geography:The Interior Plains are an extensive physiographic division encompassing 8 distinct physiographic provinces, the Interior Low Plateaus, Great Plains, Central Lowland,...

 physiographic division, which covers much of the interior of North America. It also has currency as region of human geography, referring to the "Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

" or the "Plains States".

In Canada the term is little used; Natural Resources Canada
Natural Resources Canada
The Department of Natural Resources , operating under the FIP applied title Natural Resources Canada , is the ministry of the government of Canada responsible for natural resources, energy, minerals and metals, forests, earth sciences, mapping and remote sensing...

, the government department responsible for official mapping and equivalent to the United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

, treats the Interior Plains as one unit consisting of several related plateaux and plains. There is no region referred to as the "Great Plains" in The Atlas of Canada. In terms of human geography, the term prairie is more commonly used in Canada, and the region is known as the Prairie Provinces
Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are largely covered...

 or simply "the Prairies."

The North American Environmental Atlas
North American Environmental Atlas
The North American Environmental Atlas is an interactive mapping tool created through a partnership of government agencies in Canada, Mexico and the United States, along with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a trilateral international organization created under the North American...

, produced by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was established by Canada, Mexico, and the United States to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation , the environmental side accord to the North American Free Trade Agreement...

, a NAFTA agency composed of the geographical agencies of the Mexican, American, and Canadian governments uses the "Great Plains" as a ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 synonymous with prairies and grasslands rather than as physiographic region defined by topography.

Boundaries



The region is about 500 mi (804.7 km) east to west and 2000 mi (3,218.7 km) north to south. Much of the region was home to American Bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 herds until they were hunted to near extinction during the mid/late 19th century. It has an area of approximately 1300000 km² (501,932.8 sq mi). Current thinking regarding the geographic boundaries of the Great Plains is shown by this map at the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is a public research university located in the city of Lincoln in the U.S. state of Nebraska...

.

The term "Great Plains", for the region west of about the 96th
96th meridian west
The meridian 96° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 or 98th meridian
98th meridian west
The meridian 98° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and east of the Rocky Mountains, was not generally used before the early 20th century. Nevin Fenneman's 1916 study, Physiographic Subdivision of the United States, brought the term Great Plains into more widespread usage. Before that the region was almost invariably called the High Plains, in contrast to the lower Prairie Plains of the Midwestern states. Today the term "High Plains
High Plains (United States)
The High Plains are a subregion of the Great Plains mostly in the Western United States, but also partly in the Midwest states of Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota, generally encompassing the western part of the Great Plains before the region reaches the Rocky Mountains...

" is used for a subregion of the Great Plains.

Geology


The Great Plains are the westernmost portion of the vast North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n Interior Plains
Interior Plains
The Interior Plains is a vast physiographic region that spreads across the Laurentian craton of central North America.-Geography:The Interior Plains are an extensive physiographic division encompassing 8 distinct physiographic provinces, the Interior Low Plateaus, Great Plains, Central Lowland,...

, which extend east to the Appalachian Plateau
Appalachian Plateau
The Appalachian Plateau is the western part of the Appalachian mountains, stretching from New York and Alabama. The plateau is a second level United States physiographic region....

. The United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 divides the Great Plains in the United States into ten physiographic subdivisions:
  • Coteau du Missouri
    Coteau du Missouri
    The Coteau du Missouri, or Missouri Plateau, is a large plateau that stretches along the eastern side of the valley of the Missouri River in central North Dakota and north-central South Dakota in the United States...

     or Missouri Plateau, glaciated – east-central South Dakota, northern and eastern North Dakota and northeastern Montana;
  • Coteau du Missouri, unglaciated – western South Dakota, northeastern Wyoming, southwestern North Dakota and southeastern Montana;
  • Black Hills
    Black Hills
    The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming, USA. Set off from the main body of the Rocky Mountains, the region is something of a geological anomaly—accurately described as an "island of...

     – western South Dakota;
  • High Plains
    High Plains (United States)
    The High Plains are a subregion of the Great Plains mostly in the Western United States, but also partly in the Midwest states of Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota, generally encompassing the western part of the Great Plains before the region reaches the Rocky Mountains...

     – Eastern New Mexico
    Eastern New Mexico
    Eastern New Mexico is a region of the U.S. state of New Mexico. The region is sometimes termed the "High Plains" or even "Little Texas". The region is largely coterminous with the Llano Estacado. Eastern New Mexico is generally located at an altitude of over 4,000 feet and is mostly characterized...

    , northwestern Texas (including the Llano Estacado
    Llano Estacado
    Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

     and Texas Panhandle
    Texas Panhandle
    The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

    ), western Oklahoma, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, most of Nebraska (including the Sand Hills
    Sand Hills (Nebraska)
    The Sand Hills, often written Sandhills, is a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes in north-central Nebraska, covering just over one quarter of the state...

    ) and southeastern Wyoming;
  • Plains Border – central Kansas and northern Oklahoma (including the Flint
    Flint Hills
    The Flint Hills, historically known as Bluestem Pastures or Blue Stem Hills, are a band of hills in eastern Kansas stretching into north-central Oklahoma, extending from Marshall County, Kansas and Washington County, Kansas in the north to Cowley County, Kansas and Osage County, Oklahoma in the south...

    , Red
    Red Hills
    The Red Hills is the name of a physiographic region located mostly in Clark, Comanche and Barber counties in southern and central Kansas. This undulating terrain of red-tinted sediments, a product of the underlying geology, does not fit the conventional description of the Great Plains landscape of...

     and Smoky Hills
    Smoky Hills
    The Smoky Hills are an upland region of hills in the central Great Plains of North America. They are located in the central United States, encompassing north-central Kansas and a small portion of south-central Nebraska. The hills are a dissected plain covered by tallgrass and mixed-grass prairie...

    );
  • Colorado Piedmont
    Colorado Piedmont
    The Colorado Piedmont is the geologic term for an area along the base of the foothills of the Front Range in north central Colorado in the United States...

     – eastern Colorado;
  • Raton
    Raton, New Mexico
    Raton is a city in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 7,282 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Colfax County. The city is located just south of Raton Pass.-Name:...

     section – northeastern New Mexico;
  • Pecos Valley
    Pecos River
    The headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, United States, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County. The river flows for through the eastern portion of that state and neighboring Texas before it...

     – eastern New Mexico;
  • Edwards Plateau
    Edwards Plateau
    The Edwards Plateau is a region of west-central Texas which is bounded by the Balcones Fault to the south and east, the Llano Uplift and the Llano Estacado to the north, and the Pecos River and Chihuahuan Desert to the west. San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio and Del Rio roughly outline the area...

     – south-central Texas; and
  • Central Texas
    Central Texas
    Central Texas , is a region in the U.S. state of Texas. It is roughly bordered by San Marcos to Fredericksburg to Waco, and to Brenham, and includes the Austin–Round Rock, Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Bryan-College Station, and Waco metropolitan areas...

     section – central Texas.


The High Plains is used in a related, more general context to describe the elevated regions of the Great Plains, which are primarily west of the 100th meridian
100th meridian west
The meridian 100° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 in the US.

During the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
The Cretaceous , derived from the Latin "creta" , usually abbreviated K for its German translation Kreide , is a geologic period and system from circa to million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the...

 Period (145-65 million years ago), the Great Plains was covered by a shallow inland sea called the Western Interior Seaway
Western Interior Seaway
The Western Interior Seaway, also called the Cretaceous Seaway, the Niobraran Sea, and the North American Inland Sea, was a huge inland sea that split the continent of North America into two halves, Laramidia and Appalachia, during most of the mid- and late-Cretaceous Period...

. However, during the Late Cretaceous
Late Cretaceous
The Late Cretaceous is the younger of two epochs into which the Cretaceous period is divided in the geologic timescale. Rock strata from this epoch form the Upper Cretaceous series...

 to the Paleocene
Paleocene
The Paleocene or Palaeocene, the "early recent", is a geologic epoch that lasted from about . It is the first epoch of the Palaeogene Period in the modern Cenozoic Era...

 (65-55 million years ago), the seaway had begun to recede, leaving behind thick marine deposits and a relatively flat terrain where the seaway had once occupied.

Paleontological
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 finds in the area have yielded bones of woolly mammoth
Woolly mammoth
The woolly mammoth , also called the tundra mammoth, is a species of mammoth. This animal is known from bones and frozen carcasses from northern North America and northern Eurasia with the best preserved carcasses in Siberia...

s, saber toothed tigers
Smilodon
Smilodon , often called a saber-toothed cat or saber-toothed tiger, is an extinct genus of machairodonts. This saber-toothed cat was endemic to North America and South America, living from near the beginning through the very end of the Pleistocene epoch .-Etymology:The nickname "saber-tooth" refers...

 and other ancient animals, as well as dozens of other megafauna
Megafauna
In terrestrial zoology, megafauna are "giant", "very large" or "large" animals. The most common thresholds used are or...

 (large animals over 100 lb (45.4 kg)) – such as giant sloth
Ground sloth
Ground sloths are a diverse group of extinct sloths, in the mammalian superorder Xenarthra. Their most recent survivors lived in the Antilles, where it has been proposed they may have survived until 1550 CE; however, the youngest AMS radiocarbon date reported is 4190 BP, calibrated to c. 4700 BP...

s, horses
Evolution of the horse
The evolution of the horse pertains to the phylogenetic ancestry of the modern horse from the small dog-sized, forest-dwelling Hyracotherium over geologic time scales...

, mastodon
Mastodon
Mastodons were large tusked mammal species of the extinct genus Mammut which inhabited Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Central America from the Oligocene through Pleistocene, 33.9 mya to 11,000 years ago. The American mastodon is the most recent and best known species of the group...

s, and American lion
American lion
The American lion — also known as the North American lion, Naegele’s giant jaguar or American cave lion — is an extinct lion of the family Felidae, endemic to North America during the Pleistocene epoch , existing for approximately...

 – that dominated the area of the ancient Great Plains for millions of years. The vast majority of these animals went extinct in North America around 13,000 years ago during the end of the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

.

Climate



In general, the Great Plains have a wide variety of weather throughout the year, with very cold winters and very hot summers. Wind speeds are often very high. The prairies support an abundant wildlife in undisturbed settings. Humans have converted much of the prairies for agricultural purposes or to create pastures.

The 100th meridian roughly corresponds with the line that divides the Great Plains into an area that receive 20 inches (50.8 cm) or more of rainfall per year and an area that receives less than 20 in (50.8 cm). In this context, the High Plains, as well as Southern Alberta
Southern Alberta
Southern Alberta is a region located in the Canadian province of Alberta. As of the year 2004, the region's population was approximately 272,017. The primary cities are Lethbridge and Medicine Hat...

, south-western Saskatchewan and Eastern Montana
Eastern Montana
Eastern Montana is a loosely-defined region of Montana. Some definitions are more or less inclusive than others, ranging from the most inclusive, which would include the entire part of the state east of the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains...

 are mainly semi-arid steppe land and are generally characterised by rangeland
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

 or marginal farmland
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. The region (especially the High Plains) is periodically subjected to extended periods of drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

; high winds in the region may then generate devastating dust storm
Dust storm
A dust / sand storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Particles are transported by saltation and suspension, causing soil to move from one place and deposition...

s. The eastern Great Plains near the eastern boundary falls in the humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 zone in the southern areas, and the northern and central areas fall in the humid continental climate
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

.

Flora


The Great Plains are part of the floristic North American Prairies Province
North American Prairies Province
The North American Prairies Province is a large grassland floristic province lying between the Appalachian Province and the Rocky Mountains and including the prairies of the Great Plains. It is bounded by the Canadian coniferous forests on the north and the arid semideserts to the southwest...

, which extends from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

.

Original American contact


The first Americans (Paleo-Indians) who arrived to the Great Plains were successive indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 cultures who are known to have inhabited the Great Plains for thousands of years, perhaps 10,000 years. Humans entered the North American continent in waves of migration, mostly over Beringia, the Bering Strait
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

s land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

.

Historically the Great Plains were the range of the bison and of the culture of the Plains Indians
Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the Indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America. Their colorful equestrian culture and resistance to White domination have made the Plains Indians an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.Plains...

, whose tribes included the Blackfoot
Blackfoot
The Blackfoot Confederacy or Niitsítapi is the collective name of three First Nations in Alberta and one Native American tribe in Montana....

, Crow
Crow Nation
The Crow, also called the Absaroka or Apsáalooke, are a Siouan people of Native Americans who historically lived in the Yellowstone River valley, which extends from present-day Wyoming, through Montana and into North Dakota. They now live on a reservation south of Billings, Montana and in several...

, Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

, Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

, Arapaho
Arapaho
The Arapaho are a tribe of Native Americans historically living on the eastern plains of Colorado and Wyoming. They were close allies of the Cheyenne tribe and loosely aligned with the Sioux. Arapaho is an Algonquian language closely related to Gros Ventre, whose people are seen as an early...

, Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

, and others. Eastern portions of the Great Plains were inhabited by tribes who lived in semipermanent villages of earth lodges
Earth house
An earth house is an architectural style characterized by the use of natural terrain to help form the walls of a house. An earth house is usually set partially into the ground and covered with thin growth...

, such as the Arikara
Arikara
Arikara are a group of Native Americans in North Dakota...

, Mandan, Pawnee and Wichita
Wichita (tribe)
The Wichita people are indigenous inhabitants of North America, who traditionally spoke the Wichita language, a Caddoan language. They have lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas...

.

European contact



With the arrival of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, a Spanish conquistador
Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

, the first recorded history of encounter between Europeans and Native Americans in the Great Plains occurred in Texas, Kansas and Nebraska from 1540-1542. In that same time period, Hernando de Soto crossed a west-northwest direction in what is now Oklahoma and Texas. Today this is known as the De Soto Trail. The Spanish thought the Great Plains were the location of the mythological Quivira
Quivira
Quivira may refer to:*Quivira, a place first visited by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado while in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Gold*Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, a salt marsh located in south central Kansas...

 and Cíbola
Zuni-Cibola Complex
Zuni-Cibola Complex, which comprises Hawikuh, Yellow House, Kechipbowa, and Great Kivas, is a set of sites near Zuni, New Mexico.It was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1974.Hawikuh Ruins is itself a National Historic Landmark....

, a place said to be rich in gold.

Over the next one hundred years, founding of the fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 brought thousands of ethnic Europeans into the Great Plains. Fur trappers from France, Spain, Britain, Russia and the young United States made their way across much of the region, making regular contacts with Native Americans. After the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and conducted the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition" was the first transcontinental expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis and William...

 in 1804-1806, more information about the Plains became available and various pioneers entered the areas. Manuel Lisa
Manuel Lisa
Manuel Lisa, also known as Manuel de Lisa , was a Spanish-American fur trader, explorer, and United States Indian agent. He was among the founders in St. Louis of the Missouri Fur Company, an early fur trading company...

, based in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, established a major fur trading site at his Fort Lisa on the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 in Nebraska. Fur trading posts were often the basis of later settlements. Through the 19th century, more European Americans and Europeans migrated to the Great Plains as part of a vast westward expansion of population. New settlements became dotted across the Great Plains.

The new immigrants also brought diseases against which the Native Americans had no resistance. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), "between one-half and two-thirds of the Plains Indians had died of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 by the time of the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

."

American



  • Fort Lisa
    Fort Lisa (North Dakota)
    The first Fort Lisa , also known as the Fort Manuel Lisa Trading Post and as Fort Manuel, was started by the notable fur trader Manuel Lisa of the Missouri Fur Company in 1809. It was located near the Gros Ventres village located between the mouth of the Little Missouri and that of the Big Knife...

     (1809), North Dakota
  • Fort Lisa (1812), Nebraska
  • Fontenelle's Post
    Fontenelle's Post
    Fontenelle's Post, first known as Pilcher's Post, and the site of the later city of Bellevue, was built in 1822 in the Nebraska Territory by Joshua Pilcher, then president of the Missouri Fur Company. Located on the Missouri River, it developed as one of the first European-American settlements in...

     (1822), Nebraska
  • Cabanne's Trading Post
    Cabanne's Trading Post
    Cabanne's Trading Post was established in 1822 by the American Fur Company as Fort Robidoux near present-day Dodge Park in North Omaha, Nebraska. It was named for influential fur trapper Joseph Robidoux...

     (1822), Nebraska

Pioneer settlement


European-American settlement led to the near-extinction of the bison, especially after extension of the railroad across the Plains
History of rail transport in the United States
Railroads have played a large role in the development of the United States of America, from the industrial revolution in the North-east to the colonization of the West. The American railway mania began with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad‎ in 1828 and flourished until the Panic of 1873 bankrupted...

 allowed hunters easy access to the herds. Encroaching settlement by migrant farmers and ranchers led to increasing competition and conflict with Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. In the end, settlers created so much political pressure that the United States removed the tribes to Indian reservation
Indian reservation
An American Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs...

s in the 1870s.

Much of the Great Plains became open range
Rangeland
Rangelands are vast natural landscapes in the form of grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras...

, hosting ranching operations where anyone was theoretically free to run cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

. In the spring and fall, ranchers held roundups where their cowboys branded new calves, treated animals and sorted the cattle for sale. Such ranching began in Texas and gradually moved northward. Cowboys drove Texas cattle north to railroad
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 lines in the cities of Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City, Kansas
Dodge City is a city in, and the county seat of, Ford County, Kansas, United States. Named after nearby Fort Dodge, the city is famous in American culture for its history as a wild frontier town of the Old West. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,340.-History:The first settlement of...

 and Ogallala, Nebraska
Ogallala, Nebraska
Ogallala is a city in Keith County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 4,737 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Keith County. In the days of the Nebraska Territory, the city was a stop on the Pony Express and later along the transcontinental railroad...

; from there, cattle were shipped eastward. Many foreign, especially British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, investors financed the great ranches of the era. Overstocking of the range and the terrible winter of 1886 resulted in a disaster, with many cattle starved and frozen to death. From then on, ranchers generally raised feed to ensure they could keep their cattle alive over winter.

To allow for agricultural development of the Great Plains and house a growing population, the US passed the Homestead Act
Homestead Act
A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....

 of 1862: it allowed a settler to claim up to 160 acre (64.7 ha) of land, provided that he lived on it for a period of five years and cultivated it. The provisions were expanded under the Kinkaid Act
Kinkaid Act
The Kinkaid Act of 1904 is a U.S. statute that amended the 1862 Homestead Act so that one section of a township of undeveloped land could be claimed in 37 northern and western Nebraska counties...

 to include a homestead of an entire section
Section (United States land surveying)
In U.S. land surveying under the Public Land Survey System , a section is an area nominally one square mile, containing , with 36 sections making up one survey township on a rectangular grid....

. Hundreds of thousands of people claimed such homesteads, sometimes building sod house
Sod house
The sod house or "soddy" was a corollary to the log cabin during frontier settlement of Canada and the United States. The prairie lacked standard building materials such as wood or stone; however, sod from thickly-rooted prairie grass was abundant...

s out of the very turf
Sod
Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots, or a piece of thin material.The term sod may be used to mean turf grown and cut specifically for the establishment of lawns...

 of their land. Many of them were not skilled dryland farmer
Dryland farming
Dryland farming is an agricultural technique for non-irrigated cultivation of drylands.-Locations:Dryland farming is used in the Great Plains, the Palouse plateau of Eastern Washington, and other arid regions of North America, the Middle East and in other grain growing regions such as the steppes...

s and failures were frequent. Much of the Plains were settled during relatively wet years. Government experts did not understand how farmers should cultivate the prairies and gave advice counter to what would have worked. Germans from Russia
Germans from Russia
Germans from Russia refers to the large numbers of ethnic Germans who emigrated from the Russian Empire, peaking in the late 19th century. The upper Great Plains in the United States and southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan have large areas populated primarily of descendants of Germans from Russia...

 who had previously farmed in familiar circumstances in what is now Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 were marginally more successful than the average homesteader. The Dominion Lands Act
Dominion Lands Act
The Dominion Lands Act was an 1872 Canadian law that aimed to encourage the settlement of Canada's Prairie provinces. It was closely based on the United States Homestead Act, setting conditions in which the western lands could be settled and their natural resources developed...

 of 1871 served a similar function for establishing homesteads on the prairies in Canada.


After 1900


The region roughly centered on the Oklahoma Panhandle
Oklahoma Panhandle
The Oklahoma Panhandle is the extreme western region of the state of Oklahoma, comprising Cimarron County, Texas County, and Beaver County. Its name comes from the similarity of shape to the handle of a cooking pan....

, including southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, and extreme northeastern New Mexico was known as the Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

 during the late 1920s and early 1930s. The effect of an extended drought, inappropriate cultivation, and financial crises of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, forced many farmers off the land throughout the Great Plains.

From the 1950s on, many areas of the Great Plains have become productive crop-growing areas because of extensive irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 on large landholdings. The southern portion of the Great Plains lies over the Ogallala Aquifer
Ogallala Aquifer
The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is a vast yet shallow underground water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States...

, a huge underground layer of water-bearing strata dating from the last ice age
Quaternary glaciation
Quaternary glaciation, also known as the Pleistocene glaciation, the current ice age or simply the ice age, refers to the period of the last few million years in which permanent ice sheets were established in Antarctica and perhaps Greenland, and fluctuating ice sheets have occurred elsewhere...

. Center pivot irrigation
Center pivot irrigation
Center-pivot irrigation , also called circle irrigation, is a method of crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot...

 is used extensively in drier sections of the Great Plains, resulting in aquifer
Aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...

 depletion at a rate that is greater than the ground's ability to recharge.

The rural Plains have lost a third of their population since 1920. Several hundred thousand square miles of the Great Plains have fewer than six persons per square mile—the density standard Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian in the early 20th century. He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History", whose ideas are referred to as the Frontier Thesis. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism...

 used to declare the American frontier
Frontier
A frontier is a political and geographical term referring to areas near or beyond a boundary. 'Frontier' was absorbed into English from French in the 15th century, with the meaning "borderland"--the region of a country that fronts on another country .The use of "frontier" to mean "a region at the...

 "closed" in 1893. Many have fewer than two persons per square mile.

There are more than 6,000 ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

s in the state of Kansas alone, according to Kansas historian Daniel Fitzgerald. This problem is often exacerbated by the consolidation of farms and the difficulty of attracting modern industry to the region. In addition, the smaller school-age population has forced the consolidation of school districts and the closure of high schools in some communities. The continuing population loss among European Americans has led some to suggest that the current use of the drier parts of the Great Plains is not sustainable
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

. One concept has been to propose restoration of large parts of the Plains to native grassland, accompanied by restocking of bison. This proposal is known as Buffalo Commons
Buffalo Commons
The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American Bison, that once grazed the shortgrass prairie...

. Native American tribes are among those devoted to breeding and raising bison.



Wind power


The Great Plains contribute substantially to wind power in the United States
Wind power in the United States
As of the third quarter of 2011, the cumulative installed capacity of wind power in the United States was 43,461 megawatts , making it second in the world, behind China. In 2010 wind power accounted for 2.3% of the electricity generated in the United States...

. In July 2008, oilman turned wind-farm developer, T. Boone Pickens, called for the U.S. to invest $1 trillion to build an additional 200,000 MW of wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

 nameplate capacity in the Plains, as part of his Pickens Plan
Pickens Plan
The Pickens Plan is an energy policy proposal announced July 8, 2008 by American businessman T. Boone Pickens. Pickens wants to reduce American dependence on imported oil by investing approximately $US1 trillion in new wind turbine farms for power generation, which he believes would allow the...

. Pickens cited Sweetwater, Texas
Sweetwater, Texas
Sweetwater is the county seat of Nolan County, Texas, United States. The population was 11,415 at the 2000 census.-History:Sweetwater received a U.S. post office in 1879. The Texas and Pacific Railway started service in 1881, with the first train arriving on March 12 of that year, beginning...

 as an example of economic revitalization driven by wind power development. Sweetwater was a struggling town typical of the Plains, steadily losing businesses and population, until wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s came to the surrounding Nolan County. Wind power brought jobs to local residents, along with royalty payments to landowners who leased sites for turbines, reversing the town's population decline. Pickens claims the same economic benefits are possible throughout the Plains, which he refers to as North America's "wind corridor."

See also


  • 1837–1838 smallpox epidemic 
  • Cerrado
    Cerrado
    The Cerrado, is a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil, particularly in the states of Gioas and Minas Gerais...

    , Brazil
  • Eurasian Steppe
    Eurasian Steppe
    The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

  • Great American Desert
    Great American Desert
    The term Great American Desert was used in the 19th century to describe the western part of the Great Plains east of the Rocky Mountains in North America....

  • Great bison belt
    Great bison belt
    The Great Bison Belt is a tract of rich grassland that ran from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico around 9000 BC. The Great Bison Belt was supported by spring and early summer rainfall that allowed short grasses to grow...

  • Great Plains Art Museum
  • High Plains (Australia)
    High Plains (Australia)
    The High Plains of South-Eastern Australia are a region, or more strictly a string of adjacent areas, in and adjacent to the Great Dividing Range. They were long used for summer grazing, in some cases since the 1830s. Much of the region is now National Park....


  • Kazakh Steppe
    Kazakh Steppe
    The Kazakh Steppe or Kirghiz Steppe ecoregion, of the Palearctic Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome, is a vast region of open grassland in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent portions of Russia, extending to the east of the Pontic steppe and to the west of the Emin Valley steppe,...

  • Llano Estacado
    Llano Estacado
    Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

  • Llanos
    Llanos
    The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

    , Colombia and Venezuela
  • Pampa
    Pampa
    The Pampas are the fertile South American lowlands, covering more than , that include the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Córdoba, most of Uruguay, and the southernmost Brazilian State, Rio Grande do Sul...

    , Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil
  • Pontic-Caspian steppe
    Pontic-Caspian steppe
    The Pontic-Caspian steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the north of the Black Sea as far as the east of the Caspian Sea, from western Ukraine across the Southern Federal District and the Volga Federal District of Russia to western Kazakhstan,...

  • Puszta
    Puszta
    Puszta is a steppe biome on the Great Hungarian Plain around the River Tisza in the eastern part of Hungary as well as on the western part of Hungary and in the Austrian Burgenland. The Hungarian puszta is an enclave of the Eurasian Steppe....

  • Wind power in Texas
    Wind power in Texas
    Wind power in Texas consists of many wind farms with a total installed nameplate capacity of 10,223 MW from over 40 different projects. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state, followed by Iowa with 3,708 MW...



External links