What do we Understand by Relief?

In trust and simplest meaning, "relief" is the opposite of the feature "flatness". Relief is the difference in the height between two points, which is the high point and the low point on a landscape, this is measured in feet or in metres. Relief structures can also be defined as qualitative characteristics like the "low relief plains" or the "high relief rolling hills". We can also differentiate the relief region by comparing its elevation with the surrounding area.

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On this page, we will discuss this feature in detail, we will elaborate on the landform structure and its features. Let us now proceed.

Relief Landform 

The mountain reliefs affect the climatic condition because they stand in the path of wind systems and force the air to rise over them. When the air rises it expands and then cools down, which leads to a higher amount of precipitation on the windward mountain slopes, this forms the orographic precipitation which descends leeward slopes and becomes warmer.

The natural features include these reliefs, these are at times mistakenly understood to be the only feature which marks a topographic map, and the hydrographic features, these are lakes and rivers; the man-made features, which include other characteristics of the area, like; the cities, towns, villages, roads, railways, canals, dams, bridges, and tunnels.

Features of Relief

The Characteristic of the Features of Relief are as follows: 

  • The characteristics that are well connected to the landscape of these specific areas are called relief features.

  • Relief features are not any pattern of drainage where water channels are available.

  • But water patterns are not included in the relief features.

  • In the study of geography, the structure of relief means the highest and lowest elevation points that are based in a particular region.

  • In the low-lying areas, there are elevated points such as Mountains, Ridges, and Valleys. They are of mountain heights and altitude.

Land Relief

Land Relief is also known as the quantitative measurement of the elevation which is vertically aligned and responsible for changing the landscape. This measurement is the difference between the maximum and minimum elevations within a given area, this is to a limited extent.

The relief feature of a landscape can change the size of the area when the same is measured, thus this makes the measurement very important. This measurement is well related to the slope of surfaces in which the area of interest and the gradient of the streams are present, the relief of a landscape feature is a useful way to study the surface of the earth. The relief energy is defined along "the maximum height range in a regular grid", this is quite important for the indication of the ruggedness or for the relative height of the terrain.

In Order to Understand the Terrain, There are Critical Reasons Which Include:

The terrain of this feature determines the suitability for the human settlement, the flatter alluvial plains tend to farm with adequate soils with steeper and rockier uplands.

In the case of environmental quality, agriculture, hydrology, and other related sciences the understanding of the terrain feature will assist the understanding of the watershed boundaries, the drainage characteristics, the groundwater system, and the water movement.


Understanding this terrain feature also conserves the soil essentially for agriculture. Contour ploughing is the practice that enables sustainability on the sloping land. This is the practice of ploughing along the lines in order to ensure equal elevation rather than up and down slopes.

This terrain is very much critical as this determines the ability of the army to take control of these areas and move their troops into and through the areas.

Also, the terrain is quite important while determining the weathering patterns. The two areas which are geographically very close to each other may also differ radically in case of precipitation level or by the timing because of the difference in their elevation.


Good knowledge of the terrain is also very much vital in aviation activities. The terrain will also affect the range and the performance of the radars and the terrestrial radio navigation systems.  While a hilly or mountainous terrain can also strongly impact the implementation of the new type of aerodrome and orientation of the runaways.

How do various natural agents and man-made activities affect relief landforms?

Landforms are always in a dynamic state of existence. Internal forces such as the constantly moving seismic plates are the cause of many of the relief features. Landforms are continuously created, destroyed and reformed partly by the environmental forces and partly by man-made activities. It is crucial to understand these agents to protect landforms (and their natural vegetation) against unjustifiable human destruction.

The natural forces affecting the landforms are Weathering, Volcanic eruptions, Soil erosion, deposition, natural catastrophes such as landslides, earthquakes, floods, etc.

The human agents affecting landforms are crop and irrigation activities, industrial activities, mining, construction of roads and highways, buildings, airports and other commercial projects. It is said that over time, man-made activities even on a small scale such as dam construction can have a lasting impact by increasing the rate at which landforms are destroyed.

There have been several studies by environmentalist organisations and conservation biologists that support this viewpoint. For example, the study published in the Conservation Biology journal in December 2012, extensively studied the impact of the construction of a huge number of dams in the Himalayan region in the last few decades (this region shows the densest global dam construction in the world, with over 290 dams in a 3000 square kilometres region). Researchers concluded that since 88% of the project sites fall in the regions of rich biodiversity areas, deforestation and habitat extinction is very high. More than 90% of the valleys and 25% of dense forests in the Himalayas have been affected. These lead to an increasing number of landslides (forests hold the soil in place) and geological problems for the northern plains.


The climate and environment are of utmost importance and their conservation should be our priority. Learning about landforms through this article can be a stepping stone in your life and help you make sustainable choices.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Radio Navigation Systems?

Radio navigation is the application of frequencies, which is radio in order to determine the position of any object on the Earth, which either can be a vessel or any obstruction. Like radiolocation, this is a type of radiodetermination system. The first system of this navigation was the Radio Direction Finder, abbreviated as RDF. By only tuning in any radio station and using a directional antenna, we could determine the direction to where the broadcast is being done. For the second measurement, the next station is taken.

GPS, which is the Global Positioning System, is a space-based radio-navigation system that broadcasts highly the exact navigation which pulses the users on or near the Earth. In the States' Navstar GPS, 24 main satellites in 6 orbits circle Earth every 12 hours.

2. Which Type of Landform has the Highest Relief? How are Landforms Formed?

The mountains are known to possess the highest relief of all the landforms found on Earth. And of all the mountains, Mount Everest at 8,850  metres has the highest relief. Landforms are formed as a result of the movement of the tectonic plates under the Earth crust and are the cause of the creation of continental mass, the mountains, hills, valleys, canyons, etc. Some landforms such as the third-order landforms are formed due to the erosion and deposition activities by environmental agents.

3. How many types of Landforms are There?

There are four most broadly understood landforms on Earth. These are the mountains, hills, the plateaus and the plains. The plains support most of the population on Earth. Landforms can further be understood on the basis of Hierarchical order such as the first order landforms are Oceans and continents. The second-order landforms include abyssal ridges, plateaus, mountains, etc. The third order landforms consist of local landscapes such as sand dunes, caves, valleys, volcanoes, lakes, gorges, etc. The basis of this hierarchy is placed on the way in which these terrains are formed geologically.

4. How many relief features are found in India? State the Indian Relief features.

The following six major relief features are found on the Indian landmass:

  • The Himalayas

  • The Coastal Plains

  • The Northern Plains (sometimes referred to as the Indo-Gangetic plains)

  • The Peninsular Plateau

  • The Desert, and lastly

  • The Islands

Out of these, the plains are the most abundant relief feature found in India. Approximately 42% (or 7,00,000 sq km) of the Indian peninsula is occupied by the famous Indo-Gangetic plains. It is supplied with some of the major river systems in the Indian subcontinent such as the Ganga river, the Brahmaputra river,  the Yamuna river, etc. facilitating irrigation, farming and industrial growth.

5. How are the northern plains segregated on the basis of relief features? Mention relief features found in northern plains.

The physical features of the northern plains are divided into four basic categories. These are the Rajasthan Plains, the Punjab Haryana Plains, the Upper Ganga Plains and the Lower Ganga Plains. These relief features lie above the flooding plains of the rivers and showcase a terrace-like feature.

Following are the relief features of the northern plains:

They show a very suitable climate for growing several crops a year.

The soil cover is also known to be rich and fertile, further supporting crops and plantation activities.

They are located in the south part of the Himalayas.

Northern plains, also known as the Indo Gangetic plain is one of Earth’s most densely populated regions with an ancient civilisation flourishing for thousands of years now. Extensive farming activities occur here, supporting a population of over a billion.