Secondary (12-13 years old)

Relief units

In this activity, you will discover what the main relief units of the world are. In this downloadable resource, you will find a PDF with instructions to energize your classes. On the one hand, we will show you which tool to use on the platform, and on the other hand, we will propose activities suitable for students aged 12-13.


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We propose you to teach geography in a fun way

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The Importance of relief

Relief are one of the most important aspects of physical geography, as they allow us to understand the complexity of the Earth’s surface. In this article, we will discuss the importance of relief and how they are composed of different units such as mountain ranges, plateaus, deserts, hills, and mountain systems.

The Importance of understanding relief

Understanding relief is important because it allows us to comprehend how different geographic features were formed and how they interact with each other. Relief influence climate, hydrology, and biodiversity of a region. Therefore, understanding Relief is essential in comprehending how natural systems work and how they affect humans.

Units of relief

Relief are composed of different units that are formed by geological processes.

Here are some of the most important units of relief:

Mountain ranges: Mountain ranges are chains of mountains that extend for hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. They are formed when two tectonic plates collide and one slides beneath the other, forming a subduction zone. The Andes in South America and the Rocky Mountains in North America are examples of mountain ranges.

Plateaus: Plateaus are elevated areas that extend for hundreds of kilometers. They are formed by the erosion of mountains and the sedimentation of eroded materials. The Tibetan Plateau in Asia and the Colorado Plateau in the United States are examples of plateaus.

Deserts: Deserts are dry and arid areas that receive very little precipitation. They are formed in areas where there is high atmospheric pressure and low humidity. The Sahara in Africa and the Atacama Desert in South America are examples of deserts.

Hills: Hills are smaller mountain chains than mountain ranges. They are formed by the uplift of the Earth’s crust and the erosion of the materials that form the mountain. The Sierra Nevada in the United States and the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico are examples of hills.

Mountain systems: Mountain systems are groups of mountains located near each other. They are formed by geological processes such as plate tectonics. The Alpine Mountain System in Europe and the Himalayan Mountain System in Asia are examples of mountain systems.


In summary, relief are a crucial aspect of geography, geology, and human life on Earth. Understanding the different units of relief, their characteristics, and their geographic distribution is essential in comprehending the diversity and complexity of the planet and how they influence natural processes and human activity.

From high peaks to deep valleys, from broad deserts to narrow hills, each relief unit has its own history and impact on the environment and society. Therefore, studying relief helps us better understand the world we live in and make more informed decisions about how to interact with it sustainably.

Ultimately, geography education should include a broad exploration of relief and the different units that compose them. Students can greatly benefit from this knowledge by understanding how geological processes have shaped the Earth’s surface and how these processes continue to influence the world around them. Moreover, learning about relief can inspire students to explore beyond their local environment and better comprehend the diversity and complexity of our planet.