prairies, generally level, originally grass-covered and treeless plains of North America, stretching from W Ohio through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa to the Great Plains region. The prairie belt also extends into N Missouri, S Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, E North and South Dakota, and S Canada. Many of the prairies of the world were formerly used for grazing purposes, but more and more are now coming under cultivation; hence they are often referred to today as the "vanishing grasslands." The soil of the prairies is basically a black chernozem, which is extremely fertile. The prairies correspond to the Pampa of Argentina, the llanos in northern South America, the steppe of Eurasia, and the highveld (see veld) of South Africa. Because they have the favorable climate and soil fertility characteristic of prairies, the wheat belts in the United States, Ukraine, and the Pampa of Argentina are among the world's most productive agricultural regions.

See R. Manning, Grassland (1995); S. R. Jones and R. C. Cushman, The North American Prairie (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on prairies from Fact Monster:

  • prairie dog - prairie dog prairie dog, short-tailed, ground-living rodent, genus Cynomys, of the squirrel family, ...
  • prairie schooner - prairie schooner prairie schooner, wagon covered with white canvas, made famous by its almost ...
  • prairie chicken - prairie chicken: prairie chicken: see grouse.
  • prairie wolf - prairie wolf: prairie wolf: see coyote.
  • prairie smoke - prairie smoke: prairie smoke: see pasqueflower.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Physical Geography

Play Hangman

Play Poptropica

Play Quizzes

Play Tic Tac Toe