The Five Major Geographical Regions in AP World History

The Five Major Geographical Regions in AP World History
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  • 0:00 AP World History Geography
  • 0:51 Major Geographical Regions
  • 2:55 Subregions
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeff Calareso

Jeff teaches high school English, math and other subjects. He has a master's degree in writing and literature.

In this lesson, we will look at geography according to the AP World History curriculum. We will identify and highlight the major geographical regions throughout the world.

AP World History Geography

So, you and I know there are seven continents. They're Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. You probably learned this in early elementary school. But for the purposes of this lesson, you can forget all that. 'What?' You may say, 'Why?'

Well, the geography section of the AP World History course identifies five major geographical regions as opposed to the 7-continent system. Antarctica is missing from the AP framework (probably because it is largely uninhabited and has not been historically important). Also, North and South America are one single geographical region, just called 'the Americas.' Oh yeah, Australia is called 'Oceania.' Some of this might seem a little unusual, but we'll just go with it.

Major Geographical Regions

According to the AP World History framework, there are five major geographical regions. They are Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

The continent of Africa lies south of Europe, and west of Asia. Throughout history, it has been one of the least developed regions. Until recently, much of its culture and tradition have remained largely unchanged. Africa is also thought by many experts to be the first region inhabited by human beings. Africa's climate ranges considerably. It contains tropical jungles, arid deserts, and subarctic mountains.

The region of the Americas are located entirely within the Western Hemisphere. The Americas are surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The indigenous people groups of this region are believed by many scholars to have migrated from Asia during the last Ice Age. The climate of the Americas varies considerably. An arctic climate is found in the extreme North and South, while tropical and subtropical climates are found close to the equator. The Americas also contain arid regions.

Asia is located to the east of Europe. It is a massive region containing a host of different people groups, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Russians, and many others. Asia contains arid, arctic, tropical, and subtropical climates. The Pacific Ocean borders Asia to the east.

Europe is located north of Africa and west of Asia. The Atlantic Ocean borders Europe to the west. The Ural Mountains provide an artificial boundary between Europe and Asia. Europe has played an important role throughout modern history, especially in the global colonization. Europe has a mostly temperate climate.

Oceania is the AP World History designation for the island-continent of Australia and a few of the surrounding smaller islands, such as New Guinea and New Zealand. Oceania is south of Asia. The climate of Oceania ranges considerably, from temperate to arid to tropical.


The AP World History framework divides these five regions into smaller subregions. Let's explore these subregions. The subregions are ridiculously simple to identify. In many cases, they are just the Northern, Southern, Eastern, or Western section of the region. Here we go!

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