AskDefine | Define steppe

Dictionary Definition

steppe n : extensive plain without trees (associated with eastern Russia and Siberia)

User Contributed Dictionary



step/e a grassy plain.


  • /stɛp/



  1. The grasslands of Eastern Europe and Asia. Similar to (US) prairie and (African) savannah.
  2. More properly, the name given vast cold, dry grass-plains.
    • Grasslands: The Steppe biome is a dry, cold, grassland that is found in all of the continents except Australia and Antarctica. It is mostly found in the USA, Mongolia, Siberia, Tibet and China. There isn't much humidity in the air because Steppe is located away from the ocean and close to mountain barriers. - 8k
  • Usage note: Although it may be the steppe biome, one would not normally speak of the steppes of Canada, whereas one would speak of the steppes of Asia or the steppes of Russia.


See also



  1. Plural of steppa

Extensive Definition

In physical geography, a steppe ( - , - /stɛp/, - tal, - /dɑlɑ/), pronounced in English as /stɛp/, is a plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes); it is similar to a prairie, although a prairie is generally considered as being dominated by tall grasses, while short grasses are normal in the steppe. It may be semi-desert, or covered with grass or shrubs or both, depending on the season and latitude. The term is also used to denote the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert. The term steppe originally comes from the Russian word /stɛp/ which means a flat and arid land.
Steppes are summarized by a continental climate or land climate. Peaks can be recorded in the summer of up to 40 °C and in winter -40 °C. Besides this huge difference between summer and winter, the differences between day and night are also very great. In the highlands of Mongolia, 30 °C can be reached during the day and sub-zero temperatures at night.
Also, the mid-latitude steppes can be summarized by hot summers and cold winters, averaging 250-500 mm (10-20 inches) of rain or equivalent in snowfall per year. In tropical locations, necessary rainfall to separate steppes from true deserts may be half as much again due to greater evapotranspiration.

Two types of steppe

Around the world, two types of steppe can be recorded:
  • the dry steppe
  • the temperate steppe
This division can further be divided in other subdivisions; as can be seen here
Other types of Steppe include Shrub-steppe and Alpine-steppe.


The world's largest zone of all steppes, often referred to as "the Great Steppe", is found in southwest Russia and neighbouring countries in Central Asia, stretching from Ukraine in the west to the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea. To the east of the Caspian Sea, the steppes extend through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the Altai, Koppet Dag and Tian Shan ranges. The vast Eurasian Steppe, as it is called, incorporates all of these steppes. The area is bordered in the north, on the eastern side of the Urals, by the forested West Siberian Plain taiga, extending nearly as far as the Arctic Ocean.
Other regions of steppes include transition zones between savanna and severe desert such as the Sahel that fringes the true Sahara or similar semi-arid lands that fringe the Thar desert of the Indian subcontinent or the more severe deserts of Australia.
Another large steppe area is located in the central United States and western Canada. The High Plains steppe is the westernmost part of the Great Plains region. A significant steppe, noteworthy for not grading into desert, is the Sertão of northeastern Brazil.
Some steppes are to be found in transition zones between zones of Mediterranean climate and desert, such as Reno, Nevada, and in places cut off from adequate moisture due to rain shadow effects such as Zaragoza, Spain.



Ecology and conservation of Steppe-Land birds

See also

steppe in Bulgarian: Степ
steppe in Chuvash: Çеçенхир
steppe in Czech: Step
steppe in Danish: Steppe (biotop)
steppe in German: Steppe
steppe in Modern Greek (1453-): Στέπα
steppe in Spanish: Estepa
steppe in Esperanto: Stepo
steppe in Basque: Estepa
steppe in French: Steppe
steppe in Galician: Estepa
steppe in Korean: 스텝
steppe in Ido: Stepi
steppe in Indonesian: Stepa
steppe in Italian: Steppa
steppe in Hebrew: ערבה (גאוגרפיה)
steppe in Georgian: ველი
steppe in Dutch: Steppe
steppe in Japanese: ステップ (地形)
steppe in Norwegian: Steppe
steppe in Norwegian Nynorsk: Steppe
steppe in Occitan (post 1500): Estèpa
steppe in Polish: Step
steppe in Portuguese: Estepe
steppe in Romanian: Stepă
steppe in Russian: Степь
steppe in Slovenian: Stepa
steppe in Serbian: Степа
steppe in Finnish: Aro
steppe in Swedish: Stäpp
steppe in Vietnamese: Thảo nguyên
steppe in Turkish: Bozkır (coğrafya)
steppe in Ukrainian: Степ
steppe in Chinese: 沙地

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Lebensraum, agricultural region, air space, alkali flat, alluvial plain, arable land, back country, basin, billiard table, black belt, bottomland, bowling green, bushveld, campo, champaign, champaign country, citrus belt, clear space, clearance, clearing, coastal plain, corn belt, cotton belt, countryside, dead flat, dead level, delta, desert, distant prospect, down, downs, dust bowl, earth, empty view, esplanade, farm belt, farm country, farmland, fell, flat, flat country, flatland, flats, floor, fruit belt, glade, grass, grass roots, grass veld, grassland, grazing, grazing region, ground, haugh, haughland, heath, highlands, homaloid, horizontal, horizontal axis, horizontal fault, horizontal line, horizontal parallax, horizontal plane, horizontal projection, lande, lea, ledge, level, level line, level plane, living space, llano, lowland, lowlands, lunar mare, mare, mead, meadow, meadow land, meadows and pastures, mean sea level, mesa, mesilla, moor, moorland, moors, open country, open space, outback, pampa, pampas, park, parterre, pasturage, pasture, pasture land, peneplain, plain, plains, plane, plateau, platform, playa, prairie, prairies, province, provinces, range, rural district, rustic region, salt flat, salt marsh, salt pan, savanna, sea level, sea of grass, sebkha, steppeland, steppes, swale, table, tableland, terrace, terrain, territory, the country, the soil, the sticks, tobacco belt, tree veld, tundra, upland, uplands, vega, veld, water level, weald, wheat belt, wide-open spaces, wilderness, wold, woodland, woods and fields, yokeldom
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