Prairie vs Plain
Plain is a geographical term used to describe a relatively flat piece of land with little or no elevation. Plains are also characterized by the absence of any depression. Some of the well known examples of plains in the world are Indo-Gangetic plains, Salisbury Plain, and the plain of Babylon. There is another term prairie that is similar to plains, which confuses many. It is also a flat piece of land with differences in vegetation. People use these words interchangeably which is incorrect. This article attempts to highlight the differences between plains and prairies by describing their features.
As the word implies, it is a stretch of land that is mostly flat and does not have any elevation or depression. A plain may have different types of vegetation, or it may lack all vegetation like in deserts. The foothills of mountains often have plain land. Plains are mostly found in the interiors of most countries of the world. Plains can be found on any altitude, and this means they can be arid, semi arid, wet, humid, grass covered or forests (treeless).
Prairie is a type of plain that is covered with perennial grass. Prairies are mostly treeless. It can be a tall grass, mid grass or a short grass prairie. Prairies are found in many countries, but Canada is one country where the word is used prominently to describe the inner plains covered with grass. Surprisingly, the same stretch of land down south in US is termed as Great Plains. North America is the continent where the word is used. The prairies that comprise Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in Canada continue in the southern direction of US, where Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas states have this type of land; though it is referred to as Great Plains.
If we look at the origins of the word, we find that meadows in southern France were called la prairies, which gave birth to such lands being referred to as prairies.
What is the difference between Prairie and Plain?
• A prairie is a special type of plain.
• A plain is a flat surface with no elevation and depression. It may have any type of vegetation or no vegetation at all. When it is covered with perennial grass, the plain is referred to as a prairie.
• The word is mostly used in North America to refer to inner grassland, which surprisingly is called the Great Plains, in US. Thus, people in America find no difference in a prairie and a plain, as the same stretch of land is called a prairie in Canada, and plain in US.