How to Approach World Geography

The major part of Physical Geography, various concepts and phenomena’s related to it come under World geography. Hence the topics under World Geography might seem to be vast. But covering these topics will not only help you in strengthening your conceptual understanding of Geography but also in Environment section (which forms a major part in UPSC prelims examination)

The Earth and the Universe


  • The Solar system; differences between meteors, asteroids, comets and region where they are found
  • Motion of the Earth – Rotation and Revolution – it’s impact on Day and Night;
  • Inclination of the Earth’s Axis – it’s effect on seasons
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Important Parallels and Meridians – the countries they pass through
  • General understanding of Solar Eclipse, Lunar Eclipse and Tides and their significance
  • Earth’s crust
  • The Structure of the Earth
  • Classification of Rocks – Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic with examples.

Example (2011 Prelims Questions Paper):

What is die difference between asteroids and comets?

1. Asteroids are small rocky planetoids, while comets are formed of frozen gases held together by rocky and metallic material.

2. Asteroids are found mostly between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, while comets are found mostly between Venus and Mercury.

3. Comets show a perceptible glowing tail, while asteroids do not.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a.) 1 and 2 only

(b.) 1 and 3 only

(c.) 3 only

(d.) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (b)

Example (2012 Prelims Questions Paper): 

Consider the following factors:

1. Rotation of the Earth

2. Air pressure and wind

3. Density of ocean water

4. Revolution of the Earth

Which of the above factors influence the ocean currents?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1, 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 4

(d) 2, 3 and 4

Solution (b)




  • A general idea about Continental Drift Theory, Plate Tectonics Theory, Sea Floor Spreading
  • Geomorphic process
  • Exogenic and Endogenic process, geomorphic agents – its impact.
  • Volcanoes – why and how are they formed?
  • Weathering and its significance
  • Mass Movements – creep, avalanche, landslides
  • Erosion and Deposits.
  • Basic ideas on other landforms like deltas, valleys, meanders, alluvial fans, caves, glaciers, cliffs, terraces, dunes
  • Earth’s movements like folding, faulting, warping and its impact on Landforms
  • Earthquakes – their origin, why and how are they formed, Earthquake Waves like P waves, S Waves, L Waves
  • Geographical features – Atlas mountains, Highlands and the regions they are found in; Desert regions across the world


Note: You can expect match the following questions from ‘World Geographic features/landforms’

Example (2013 Prelims Questions Paper):

Which one of the following pairs is correctly matched? 

Geographical Feature                              Region

(a) Abyssinian Plateau :                         Arabia

(b) AtlasMountains :                          North-Western Africa

(c) Guiana Highlands :                       South-Western Africa

(d) OkavangoBasin :                           Patagonia

Solution (b)

Example (2014 Prelims Questions Paper):

Which of the following phenomena might have influenced the evolution of organisms?

1.      Continental drift

2.      Glacial cycles

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

A.      1 only

B.      2 only

C.      Both 1 and 2

D.     Neither 1 nor 2.

Solution (c)


Atmosphere: (An important topic from Prelims point of view)


  • Composition and Structure of Atmosphere various layers of atmosphere significance of each layer
  • Important gases in the atmosphere, its significance and role in protecting human life
  • Example: ozone in the stratosphere prevents harmful ultra-violet radiations from reaching the earth and thereby protecting the humans from skin cancer etc.
  • Heating and Cooling of Atmosphere; Factors controlling temperature distribution
  • Heat Budget (Incoming and outgoing radiation)
  • Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming- Ozone layer, Ozone hole.
  • Temperature Zones on the globe- Tropical, Temperate, Frigid ; characteristics of these zones
  • Global Pressure Belts- Low Pressure, High Pressure, Doldrums, Horse Latitudes
  • Concepts like Temperature Inversion, Albedo.

Example (2011 Prelims Questions Paper):


A layer in the Earth’s atmosphere called Ionosphere facilitates radio communication. Why?

1. The presence of ozone causes the reflection of radio waves to Earth.

2. Radio waves have a very long wavelength.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a.) 1 only

(b.) 2 only

(c.) Both 1 and 2

(d.) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution (d)


Example (2012 Prelims Questions Paper): 


Normally, the temperature decreases with the increase in height from the Earth’s surface, because

1. the atmosphere can be heated upwards only from the Earth’s surface

2. there is more moisture in the upper atmosphere

3. the air is less dense in the upper atmosphere

Select the correct answer using the codes given below :

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (a)


Wind System


  • Factors affecting the velocity and direction of the Wind. Example: How does Coriollis force affects the direction of wind?
  • Planetary Winds, shifting of Planetary wind belts and their climatic influences in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Inter-tropical and Convergence Zone.
  • Seasonal and local Winds – Monsoons, Land and Sea breezes, Anabatic and Katabatic winds, Blizzards, Chinook
  • Mountain and Valley winds
  • Fronts – Warm and Cold front
  • Upper Air circulation- Jet streams, Westerlies
  • Phenomena’s like cyclones, anti-cyclones, thunderstorms, tornadoes.
  • Cyclones – Tropical and Temperate (More Emphasis should be given)
  • How are they developed or where do they originate?
  • Characteristic’s  of these cyclones
  • Difference between the two
  • It’s impact on the region

Example (2011 Prelims Questions Paper):·

The formation of ozone hole in the Antarctic region has been a cause of concern. What could be the reason for the formation of this hole? (2011)

(a.) Presence of prominent tropo-spheric turbulence; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

(b.) Presence of prominent polar front and stratospheric’ clouds; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

(c.) Absence of polar front and stratospheric clouds; and inflow of methane and chlorofluorocarbons

(d.) Increased temperature at polar region due to global warming

Solution (b)

Example (2013 Prelims Questions Paper):

During a thunderstorm, the thunder in the skies is produced by the: (2013)

1. meeting of cumulonimbus clouds in the sky

2. lightning that separates the nimbus clouds

3. violent upward movement of air and water particles

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(C) 1 and 3

(d) None of the above produces the thunder

Solution (d)


Clouds and Precipitation


  • Classification of Clouds
  • Condensations and its forms- Dew, Frost, Fog, Smog, Mist and Haze; How are they different from each other?
  • Precipitation
  • Forms of Precipitation – Rainfall, Sleet, Snowfall, Hail
  • Mechanism of Condensation and Precipitation – adiabatic cooling
  • Types of Precipitation – Convectional, Orographic, Cyclonic, Frontal precipitation


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