Can You Name All These Geography Terms That Begin With C?

By: Ian Fortey
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Can You Name All These Geography Terms That Begin With C?
Image: Paul Biris/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Imagine journeying to a faraway land and heading deep into volcanic voids of a caldera, or coming ashore on an exotic island cay surrounded by coral reefs. You could bundle up and head north to the icy and unforgiving regions of Earth's cryosphere if you like. Or even watch the sunset from the precarious edge of a stony cliff at the edge of a massive canyon by the cape. The diversity of Earth’s geography covers all manner of land masses and environmental features, from things as common as caves on the side of a mountain range or a cove just off the seashore to the much more exotic elements like cyclopean stairs or a cuesta. All of that, and we haven't even had to abandon the letter “c.”

If you know your geography terms like the back of your hand, now’s the time to strut your stuff. Let's head into a few craters, take a peek at the odd calanque, and see if you can ID a chine when you come across one. If you fancy yourself a geography expert of a high enough caliber to conquer a quiz focused solely on geography “c’s,” grab your compass and crush it.

Panama Canal Which of these is an artificial waterway?
Cyclopean stairs
Canal
A canal is a waterway constructed to allow the passage of boats, and as such, not a natural part of geography but one that does change the landscape. The most famous canals are likely the Panama and Suez, though canals were made even by the Romans.
Cape
Coulee

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Grand Canyon You can find which of these between two cliffs?
Continental shelf
Contour lines
Cove
Canyon
A canyon is best described as a deep valley between a couple of cliff faces, although how wide it is can vary greatly. The Grand Canyon, for instance, is quite long at 277 miles, and at points, it reaches 18 miles across.

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Cape of Good Hope Promontory is another word for which of these?
Cape
A cape is a raised mass of land that extends out into the water. Because a cape is typically narrow, many of them don't last long as a result of erosion, but some of the most significant ones, like Cape Horn and Cape Cod, can stand the test of time.
Cirque
Colony
Col

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Benagil caves, Portugal Do you know which of these is a void in rock?
Channel
Chapparal
Cave
A cave is just an absence of rock in the way a hole in the ground is an absence of the soil. Speleology is the study of caves and is a relatively young area of study as previously cave study was lumped in with geography as a whole or perhaps geology.
Cenote

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English Channel (Salcombe ) The path a body of water like a river follows can be called what?
Channel
Channels and canals are not all that different, though a channel is a natural formation, like the English Channel, and will often connect two larger bodies of water. Every so often, someone will refer to a channel as a canal, though.
Culvert
Caprock
Caldera

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Cliffs of Maher Another term for which of these is "precipice?"
Crater
Calanque
Canyon
Cliff
A cliff is a mostly vertical rock face that you'll usually find in the mountains and along coastlines as they tend to be formed by erosion more than anything else, though some could be constructed through artificial means.

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Full Earth view showing North America This term describes the largest kind of landmass in the world. What is it?
Country
Couloir
Continent
Oddly enough, there's no hard and fast definition for what a continent is. For instance, not everyone even agrees on how many continents there are in the world right now. Some say seven, while some accountings only make room for four, with all numbers in between represented as well.
Cuesta

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Lulworth Cove, Dorset, England Which of these is a small bay?
Cove
A cove is a small kind of bay that is sheltered in a way that can protect boats or whatever else is in the cove from things like storms. Generally speaking, they have a narrow entrance and then widen into a larger area, which is what provides that protection.
Crater
County
Cut bank

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Dorset Jurassic coast, UK (Cuesta) Do you know which of these is a kind of hill?
Corrasion
Cinder cone
Cuesta
Cuesta is a term you likely don't often hear even if you see them around at places like the Niagra Escarpment. It's a hill or a ridge that has a gentle slope on one side of it and a much steeper slope on the other side.
Cay

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Meteor Crater Which of these is a circular depression?
Caprock
Culvert
Corona
Crater
A crater is what happens when something impacts the ground and with significant enough force to create a depression in it. The most common cause of craters that most of us are familiar with is meteor strikes.

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USA counties This is an arbitrarily defined geographical region used for administrative purposes. What is it?
County
"County" comes from a French term for land that is under the jurisdiction of a count, so the name makes sense in that regard. The boundaries of a county are arbitrary and are just used for governmental or administrative purposes.
Coast
Cirque
Calanque

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Skier downhill a couloir If you like skiing in Europe, you've likely been on one of which of these?
Confluence
Compass
Chine
Couloir
A couloir is a fairly narrow passage or gully you'll find between steep cliff walls, essentially a crevasse. European ski resorts are famous for them, but they're actually rather rare in the United States.

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Moses Coulee You could potentially refer to which of these as a spillway or ravine?
Cenote
Cay
Chaparral
Coulee
A coulee is generally a kind of drainage zone that doesn't always have to have water in it, but will likely be a drainage area during heavy rains. The definition of the word tends to change from place to place.

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Cut bank Erosion from a river causes which of these?
Cliff
Creek
Cut bank
A cut bank is an eroded cliff along a river, essentially a cliff that was cut right into the rock by years of a river flowing through it. They're sometimes called river cliffs for pretty obvious reasons.
Cully

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Cyclopean stairs Glacial erosion causes which of these?
Credenza
Cyclopean stairs
Since glaciers aren't the fastest moving things in the world, as they erode the land in the passage, they create a series of irregular steps in the rock by depressing the land. Those landforms are referred to as cyclopean stairs.
Culvert
Calloway

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Corrasion (Arch of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) Which of these is a kind of mechanical erosion?
Corrasion
Corrasion, which is not the same as corrosion, is mechanical erosion, which is to say the act of some particles being rubbed against another surface. For instance, when a river moves the sand, that sand can rub against a rock and wear it down. That's corrasion.
Caprock
Corral
Cirque

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Conurbation (New York) What do you call it when two cities grow so large they merge?
Caldera
Col
Cavern
Conurbation
As weird a word as the word sounds, conurbation is the name for the process of two urban areas merging as a result of them just growing so large they end up running together. The term was coined back in 1915, so it has some history.

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Continental shelf Which of these is the term for the portion of land under water that surrounds a larger land mass?
Continental shelf
The area of land around a continent is the continental shelf on which the land sits. It'd be to some degree what you walk out onto when you're at the beach, which then tapers off to a slope and finally the abyssal plain, which is where a continent very much ends.
Cenote
Calanque
Confluence

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Compass What would you call a tool for navigation?
Cartography
Cryosphere
Crust
Compass
A compass can be used for navigating or just orienteering, and it shows the cardinal directions based on the Earth's magnetic pole manipulating a needle. Magnetic compasses date back to China in 206 BC and are considered one of the greatest inventions of all time.

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Col This is the lowest point between two peaks. What is it?
Caldera
Col
If you're looking at two mountains, a col is the lowest point between them and is sometimes just called a gap. Generally, these aren't conducive to travel and aren't easy to get across if you're just casually hiking.
Country
Chine

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Coast When land meets sea, what do we call it?
Coast
The coast or coastline of a land mass is where the land itself comes in contact with the sea. Smaller bodies of water like lakes also have coastlines, but those exist in the land mass rather than the coast that surrounds a land mass.
Culvert
Creek
Cuesta

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Thornton Lakes What do you call a valley shaped like an amphitheater?
Chine
Calanque
Caprock
Cirque
Glacial erosion is to blame for the creation of cirques, which are concave valleys that open on one side but are surrounded by high, sheer cliff faces. The center is often like a bowl and may contain a lake.

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Cinder cone Volcanic eruptions form which of these?
Confluence
Cinder cone
The cinder cone is the cone-like hill you'll find at the top of a volcanic vent, which gives what we know as a volcano its distinctive look. The ash, lava and assorted other sediments expelled from a volcano are what forms it.
Cartogram
Celestial pole

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Chine (Loch Ard Gorge) Which of these is a steep-sided gorge?
Caldera
Caprock
Cay
Chine
A chine is a steep-sided gorge that a river flows through to the sea and is generally a term you'll hear in England. It's formed by the water eroding fairly soft rock, which is what makes it so steep in the first place.

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Chaparral This is another term for shrubland. What is it?
Canal
Canter
Chaparral
Chaparral is a term that describes a kind of shrubland marked by a Mediterranean climate and a resistance to drought thanks to the hearty plant-life that lives there. This is the kind of land you'll find throughout California.
Contiguity

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Cenote Keken Which of these is another term for a kind of sinkhole?
Cay
Cenote
A cenote is a pit or a sinkhole that has formed naturally and exposes the groundwater underneath, thus making it a potentially good swimming hole if the conditions are otherwise safe around it. They're also favored by scuba divers.
Canyon
Canal

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Cays Do you know which of these is a small island on a coral reef?
Caprock
Couloir
Calanque
Cay
A cay is sometimes better known by the name key, and in that context is probably very familiar to you. The Florida Keys, for instance, are so named because they are a series of these small islands on coral reefs.

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Caprock Canyons Which of these is analogous to the chocolate coating on a cream-filled egg?
Cryosphere
Cartogram
Caprock
Caprock is what you get when a hard or resilient kind of rock is covering a softer or weaker rock, literally making a cap of rock that gives it its name. It's a common form of rock in escarpments and mesa formations.
Confluence

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Caldera What's a term for a kind of volcanic crater?
Caldera
A caldera is a crater or cavern typically formed when a volcanic eruption empties a chamber of magma and leaves a void behind. Technically speaking, it's more of a sinkhole than a crater as it needs to collapse in rather than something falling into it.
Culvert
Canyon
Compass

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Calanque de Sugiton This is a kind of inlet found along the Mediterranean coast. What is it?
Cinder cone
Cryosphere
Cove
Calanque
Formed in limestone or dolomite cliffs and rock formations, you'll only find calanques along the Mediterranean coast. They're pretty famous along the coast of France and are generally caused by erosion.

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Cryosphere You can use which of these terms to describe any place where water exists in frozen form?
Country
Cryosphere
The cryosphere is what stands in opposition to the hydrosphere, which accounts for the parts of the world where you will find liquid water like oceans, lakes, and rivers. The cryosphere is just every place with frozen water like the ice caps, frozen rivers, even permafrost.
Contour lines
Contiguity

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Crust Which of these is the top part of the lithosphere?
Crust
The Earth's crust is about 20 to 30 miles thick and accounts for a mere 1% of the entire planet's volume. Below the crust, you'll find the Earth's mantle. If you could dig down the edge of the crust where the mantle begins, you'd have to endure temperatures of up to 752° Fahrenheit.
Crevasse
Cap
Cliff

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Countries A nation with its own government is called what?
Courtyard
Conurbation
Country
There is no natural geographical border for any given country in the world; instead, they are differentiated from one another by borders made up for political reasons that are generally (but not always) agreed upon by neighboring countries.
Cartogram

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Confluence What do you call it when two bodies of water flow together?
Corral
Caldera
Confluence
The spot where bodies of water merge, whether that's two rivers or a stream meeting a river is called a confluence. You can find these all over the world such as where the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers come together at Three Forks, Montana.
Cape

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Cartography Which of these is the study of maps?
Cartography
Cartography is the study of maps and the craft of making them. Anyone who practices cartography is called a cartographer. The practice is remarkably old, and at least one map has been dated back to the 7th millennium BCE.
Calligraphy
Contiguity
Chinook

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