Grasslands of the World

Grasslands are found on either side of two desert belts that circle the earth. About one quarter of the earth's land is in the grasslands.

  • Tropical grasslands -- those closest to the equator -- are hot all year.
  • Temperate grasslands are farther from the equator -- such as the U.S. prairies -- and have both hot summers and harsh winters.
Temperate grasslands once covered much of the interior of North America, and they were common in Eurasia and South America as well. They are highly productive when they are first converted to agricultural uses because the organic material in the soil comes from hundreds of thousands of years of decomposition.

In North America, the prairies were once inhabited by huge herds of bison and pronghorns, which were hunted by wolves, bears, and other predators. Where U.S. prairies have been converted to farmland, the large herds and predators that followed them are gone now.

In addition to the prairies of the U.S. Midwest, the world has other grasslands which go by different names. In South America, grasslands are called "pampas"; in Europe, "steppes"; in Africa, "savannas".

Grasslands Biome Map
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