The tropics are the region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by The Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.43679°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.43679°) S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone (see geographical zone). The tropics include all the areas on the Earth where the Sun contacts a point directly overhead at least once during the solar year (which is a subsolar point) - thus the latitude of the tropics is roughly equal to the angle of the Earth's axial tilt.

The tropics are distinguished from the other climatic and biomatic regions of Earth, which are the middle latitudes and the polar regions on either side of the equatorial zone.

The tropics comprise 40% of the Earth's surface area[1] and contain 36% of the Earth's landmass.[2] As of 2014, the region is home to 40% of the world population, and this figure is projected to reach 50% by the late 2030s.[3]

World map indicating tropics and subtropics
World map with the intertropical zone highlighted in crimson
Koppen-Geiger Map A present
Areas of the world with tropical climates.

Seasons and climate

Monthly zonal mean precipitation
A graph showing the zonally averaged monthly precipitation. The tropics receive more precipitation than higher latitudes. The precipitation maximum, which follows the solar equator through the year, is under the rising branch of the Hadley circulation; the sub-tropical minima are under the descending branch and cause the desert areas.
Bora Bora
Aerial view of Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Kota Kinabalu by Dale Preston
Tropical sunset over the sea in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

"Tropical" is sometimes used in a general sense for a tropical climate to mean warm to hot and moist year-round, often with the sense of lush vegetation.

Many tropical areas have a dry and wet season. The wet season, rainy season or green season is the time of year, ranging from one or more months, when most of the average annual rainfall in a region falls.[4] Areas with wet seasons are disseminated across portions of the tropics and subtropics.[5] Under the Köppen climate classification, for tropical climates, a wet-season month is defined as a month where average precipitation is 60 millimetres (2.4 in) or more.[6] Tropical rainforests technically do not have dry or wet seasons, since their rainfall is equally distributed through the year.[7] Some areas with pronounced rainy seasons see a break in rainfall during mid-season when the intertropical convergence zone or monsoon trough moves poleward of their location during the middle of the warm season;[8] typical vegetation in these areas ranges from moist seasonal tropical forests to savannahs.

When the wet season occurs during the warm season, or summer, precipitation falls mainly during the late afternoon and early evening hours. The wet season is a time when air quality improves, freshwater quality improves and vegetation grows significantly, leading to crop yields late in the season. Floods cause rivers to overflow their banks, and some animals to retreat to higher ground. Soil nutrients diminish and erosion increases. The incidence of malaria increases in areas where the rainy season coincides with high temperatures. Animals have adaptation and survival strategies for the wetter regime. The previous dry season leads to food shortages into the wet season, as the crops have yet to mature.

However, regions within the tropics may well not have a tropical climate. Under the Köppen climate classification, much of the area within the geographical tropics is classed not as "tropical" but as "dry" (arid or semi-arid), including the Sahara Desert, the Atacama Desert and Australian Outback. Also, there are alpine tundra and snow-capped peaks, including Mauna Kea, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Andes as far south as the northernmost parts of Chile and Argentina.


Coconut palms in the warm, tropical climate of northern Brazil

Tropical plants and animals are those species native to the tropics. Tropical ecosystems may consist of tropical rainforests, seasonal tropical forests, dry (often deciduous) forests, spiny forests, desert and other habitat types. There are often significant areas of biodiversity, and species endemism present, particularly in rainforests and seasonal forests. Some examples of important biodiversity and high endemism ecosystems are El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Costa Rican and Nicaraguan rainforests, Amazon Rainforest territories of several South American countries, Madagascar dry deciduous forests, the Waterberg Biosphere of South Africa, and eastern Madagascar rainforests. Often the soils of tropical forests are low in nutrient content, making them quite vulnerable to slash-and-burn deforestation techniques, which are sometimes an element of shifting cultivation agricultural systems.

In biogeography, the tropics are divided into Paleotropics (Africa, Asia and Australia) and Neotropics (Caribbean, Central America, and South America). Together, they are sometimes referred to as the Pantropic. The Neotropical region should not be confused with the ecozone of the same name; in the Old World, there is no such ambiguity, as the Paleotropics correspond to the Afrotropical, Indomalayan, and partly the Australasian and Oceanic ecozones.


"Tropicality" refers to the geographic imagery that many people outside the tropics have of that region. The idea of tropicality gained renewed interest in modern geographical discourse when French geographer Pierre Gourou published Les Pays Tropicaux (The Tropical World, in English), in the late 1940s.[9]

Tropicality encompasses at least two contradictory imageries. One is that the tropics represent a Garden of Eden, a heaven on Earth;[10] the alternative is that the tropics are primitive and essentially lawless. The latter view was often discussed in Western literature—more so than the first.[10] Evidence suggests that over time the more primitive view of the tropics in popular literature has been supplanted by more nuanced interpretations that reflect historical changes in values associated with tropical culture and ecology, although some primitive associations are persistent.[11]

Western scholars also theorized about the reasons that tropical areas were deemed "inferior" to regions in the Northern Hemisphere. A popular explanation focused on the differences in climate—tropical regions typically have much warmer weather than northern regions. This theme led some scholars, including Gourou, to argue that warmer climates correlate to primitive indigenous populations lacking control over nature, compared to northern populations having "mastered nature".[12]

See also


  1. ^ "How much land is in the tropics?". God Plays Dice. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  2. ^ "tropics". National Geographic Encyclopedia. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  3. ^ "Expanding tropics will play greater global role, report predicts". Science Magazine. 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ Glossary of Meteorology (2009). Rainy season. Archived 2009-02-15 at the Wayback Machine American Meteorological Society. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  5. ^ Michael Pidwirny (2008). CHAPTER 9: Introduction to the Biosphere. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  6. ^ "Updated world Koppen-Geiger climate classification map" (PDF).
  7. ^ Elisabeth M. Benders-Hyde (2003). World Climates. Blue Planet Biomes. Retrieved on 2008-12-27.
  8. ^ J . S. 0guntoyinbo and F. 0. Akintola (1983). Rainstorm characteristics affecting water availability for agriculture. Archived 2009-02-05 at the Wayback Machine IAHS Publication Number 140. Retrieved on 2008-12-27
  9. ^ Arnold, David. "Illusory Riches: Representations of the Tropical World, 1840-1950", p. 6. Journal of Tropical Geography
  10. ^ a b Arnold, David. "Illusory Riches: Representations of the Tropical World, 1840-1950", p. 7. Journal of Tropical Geography
  11. ^ Menadue, Christopher B. (2017-05-30). "Trysts Tropiques: The Torrid Jungles of Science Fiction". eTropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics. 16 (1). doi:10.25120/etropic.16.1.2017.3570. ISSN 1448-2940.
  12. ^ Arnold, David. "Illusory Riches: Representations of the Tropical World, 1840-1950", p. 13. Journal of Tropical Geography

External links

Anna in the Tropics

Anna in the Tropics is a play by Nilo Cruz. It won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Dry season

The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which moves from the northern to the southern tropics and back over the course of the year. The tropical rain belt lies in the southern hemisphere roughly from October to March; during that time the northern tropics have a dry season with sparser precipitation, and days are typically sunny throughout. From April to September, the rain belt lies in the northern hemisphere, and the southern tropics have their dry season. Under the Köppen climate classification, for tropical climates, a dry season month is defined as a month when average precipitation is below 60 millimetres (2.4 in).The dry season has low humidity, and some watering holes and rivers dry up. This lack of water (and hence of food) may force many grazing animals to migrate to more fertile spots. Examples of such animals are zebras, elephants, and wildebeest. Because of the lack of water in the plants, bushfires are common.Data shows that in Africa the start of the dry season coincides with a rise in the cases of measles—which researchers believe might be attributed to the higher concentration of people in the dry season, as agricultural operations are all but impossible without irrigation. During this time, some farmers move into cities, creating hubs of higher population density, and allowing the disease to spread more easily.The rain belt reaches roughly as far north as the Tropic of Cancer and as far south as the Tropic of Capricorn. Near these latitudes, there is one wet season and one dry season annually. At the equator there are two wet and two dry seasons, as the rain belt passes over twice a year, once moving north and once moving south. Between the tropics and the equator, locations may experience a short wet and a long wet season; and a short dry and a long dry season. Local geography may substantially modify these climate patterns, however.

New data shows that in the seasonal parts of the South American Amazon forest, foliage growth and coverage varies between the dry and wet seasons—with about 25% more leaves and faster growth in the dry season. Researchers believe that the Amazon itself has an effect in bringing the onset of the wet season: by growing more foliage, it evaporates more water. However, this growth appears only in the undisturbed parts of the Amazon basin, where researchers believe roots can reach deeper and gather more rainwater. It has also been shown that ozone levels are much higher in the dry than in the wet season in the Amazon basin.A dry season can also be seen in temperate areas. In Los Angeles, summer is the dry season. In Beijing, winter is the dry season.

Florida Tropics SC

Florida Tropics SC is a professional indoor soccer team based in Lakeland, Florida. They were a founding member of the Indoor Professional League. They are owned by Central Florida Sports Ventures, LLC, led by Dr. Panos Iakovidis, and former USL commissioner and Rochester Rhinos owner Chris Economides. The team was founded by Andrew Haines, former owner of the St. Louis Ambush in 2015. The team is a member of the Major Arena Soccer League.

The Tropics organization also owns and operates an outdoor soccer team, the Lakeland Tropics, who compete in USL League Two and play home games at Thomas W. Bryant Stadium. On 22 March 2018, it was announced the Tropics would be partnering with Pinellas County United SC to field a squad in the Women's Premier Soccer League, Florida Tropics SC WPSL. The team played two of their three home games at Bryant Stadium and the third at St. Petersburg High School.


The family Melastomataceae (alternatively Melastomaceae) is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants found mostly in the tropics (two thirds of the genera are from the New World tropics) comprising c. 165 genera and c. 5115 known species. Melastomes are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or small trees.

One Night in the Tropics

One Night in the Tropics is a 1940 comedy film noteworthy for being the film debut of Abbott and Costello. They are listed as supporting actors but steal the picture with five of their classic routines, including an abbreviated version of "Who's On First?" Their work earned them a two-picture deal with Universal, and their next film, Buck Privates, made them bona fide movie stars. Songs in the film were by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. The film is based on a 1914 novel, Love Insurance by Earl Derr Biggers, the creator of Charlie Chan.It was filmed as a silent movie in 1919 as Love Insurance by Paramount with Bryant Washburn and Lois Wilson, and in 1925 by Universal as The Reckless Age.


Semi-Pro is a 2008 American sports comedy film from New Line Cinema. The film was directed by Kent Alterman and stars Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin and Maura Tierney. The film was shot in Los Angeles near Dodger Stadium (in the gym of the Los Angeles City Fire Department Training Center), in Detroit, and in Flint, Michigan. Released in theaters on February 29, 2008 and released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 3, 2008, it was the last film from New Line Cinema before they merged with Warner Bros.


The subtropics are geographic and climate zones located roughly between the tropics at latitude 23.5° (the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) and temperate zones (normally referring to latitudes 35–66.5°) north and south of the Equator.

Subtropical climates are often characterized by warm to hot summers and cool to mild winters with infrequent frost. Most subtropical climates fall into two basic types: humid subtropical, where rainfall is often concentrated in the warmest months (for example Brisbane, Queensland or Jacksonville, Florida), and dry summer climate or (Mediterranean), where seasonal rainfall is concentrated in the cooler months (for example Naples, Italy or Los Angeles, California).

Subtropical climates can occur at high elevations within the tropics, such as in the southern end of the Mexican Plateau and in Vietnam and Taiwan. Six climate classifications use the term to help define the various temperature and precipitation regimes for the planet Earth.

A great portion of the world's deserts are located within the subtropics, due to the development of the subtropical ridge. Within savanna regimes in the subtropics, a wet season is seen annually during the summer, which is when most of the yearly rainfall falls. Within Mediterranean climate regimes, the wet season occurs during the winter. Areas bordering warm oceans are prone to locally heavy rainfall from tropical cyclones, which can contribute a significant percentage of the annual rainfall. Plants such as palms, citrus, mango, pistachio, lychee, and avocado are grown within the subtropics.

Temperate climate

In geography, the temperate or tepid climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout the year and more distinct seasonal changes compared to tropical climates, where such variations are often small. They typically feature four distinct seasons, Summer the warmest, Autumn the transitioning season to Winter, the colder season, and Spring the transitioning season from winter back into summer. On the northern hemisphere the year starts with winter, transitions in the first halfyear trough spring into summer which is in mid-year, then at the second halfyear trough autumn into winter at year-end. On the southern hemisphere seasons are swapped with summer in between years and winter in mid-year.

The temperate zones (latitudes from 35° to the polar circles at about 66.5°, north and south) are where the widest seasonal changes occur, with most climates found in it having some influence from both the tropics and the poles. The subtropics (latitudes from about 23.5° to 35°, north and south) have temperate climates that show further similarities with the tropics, usually having warmer summers and milder winters. The poleward outskirts of the temperate zones are where the coldest but yet temperate climates such as the boreal climate are found, with colder winters and milder summers, showing further similarities with the poles.

It is not only latitudinal positions that influence temperature changes: sea currents, air masses, continentality, maritimity, and altitude are also defining factors, with climates considered temperate being found even in tropical areas or milder climates in polar regions. Humidity and precipitation changes are also taken into account.

The Köppen climate classification defines a climate as "temperate" when the coldest month has a mean temperature below 18 °C (64.4 °F).

Tropic of Cancer

The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent. It is currently 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.4368°) north of the Equator.

Its Southern Hemisphere counterpart, marking the most southerly position at which the Sun can be directly overhead, is the Tropic of Capricorn. These tropics are two of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth; the others being the Arctic and Antarctic Circles and the Equator. The positions of these two circles of latitude (relative to the Equator) are dictated by the tilt of Earth's axis of rotation relative to the plane of its orbit.

Tropic of Capricorn

The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the circle of latitude that contains the subsolar point on the December (or southern) solstice. It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead. Its northern equivalent is the Tropic of Cancer.

The Tropic of Capricorn is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth. As of 18 March 2019, its latitude is 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.43679°) south of the Equator, but it is very gradually moving northward, currently at the rate of 0.47 arcseconds, or 15 metres, per year.

Tropical Africa

Although tropical Africa is mostly familiar to the West for its rainforests, this ecozone of Africa is far more diverse. While the tropics are thought of as regions with warm to hot moist climates caused by latitude and the tropical rain belt, the geology of areas, particularly mountain chains, and geographical relation to continental and regional scale winds impact the overall parts of areas, also, making the tropics run from arid to humid in West Africa. The area has very serious overpopulation problems.

Tropical climate

A tropical climate in the Köppen climate classification is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures of warmer than 18.4 °C (65.1 °F). In tropical climates there are often only two seasons: a wet season and a dry season. Tropical climates are frost-free, and changes in the solar angle are small. In tropical climates temperature remains relatively constant (hot) throughout the year. Sunlight is intense.

Tropical horticulture

Tropical horticulture is a branch of horticulture that studies and cultivates plants in the tropics, i.e., the equatorial regions of the world. The field is sometimes known by the portmanteau "TropHort".

Tropical horticulture includes plants such as perennial woody plants (arboriculture), ornamentals (floriculture), vegetables (olericulture), and fruits (pomology) including grapes (viticulture). The origin of many of these crops is not in the tropics but in temperate zones. Their adoption to tropical climatic conditions is an objective of breeding. Many important crops, however, are indigenous to the tropics. The latter embrace perennial crops such as oil palm, vegetables including okra, field crops such as rice and sugarcane, and particularly fruits including pineapple, banana, papaya, and mango.

Since the tropics represent 36 percent of the earth's surface and 20 percent of its land surface, the potential of tropical horticulture is huge. In contrast to temperate regions, environmental conditions in the tropics are defined less by seasonal temperature fluctuations and more by seasonality of precipitation. Thus the climate in the greater part of the tropics is characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons, although such variation is reduced in locations closer to the equator (±5° latitude). Temperature conditions in the tropics are affected by elevation, in which contrasting warmer and colder climate areas in the tropics can be differentiated, and highland areas in the tropics can consequently be more favourable for production of temperate plant species than are lowland areas.

Tropical monsoon climate

A tropical monsoon climate (occasionally known as a tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate) is a type of climate that corresponds to the Köppen climate classification category "Am". Tropical monsoon climates have monthly mean temperatures above 18 °C (64.4 °F) in every month of the year. Tropical monsoon climates is the intermediate climate between the wet Af (or tropical rainforest climate) and Aw (or tropical savanna climate).

A tropical monsoon climate, however, has its driest month seeing on average less than 60 mm, but more than 100 – [total annual precipitation {mm}/25] of average monthly precipitation. This latter fact is in direct contrast to a tropical savanna climate, whose driest month sees less than 60 mm of precipitation and also less than 100 – [total annual precipitation {mm}/25] of average monthly precipitation. In essence, a tropical monsoon climate tends to either see more rainfall than a tropical savanna climate or have less pronounced dry seasons. Additionally, a tropical monsoon climate tends to see less variance in temperatures during the course of the year than a tropical savanna climate. This climate has a driest month which nearly always occurs at or soon after the "winter" solstice for that side of the equator.

Tropical rainforest climate

A tropical rainforest climate is a tropical climate usually found within 10 to 15 degrees latitude of the equator, and has at least 60 mm (2.4 inches) of rainfall every month of the year. Regions with this climate are typically designated Af by the Köppen climate classification. A tropical rainforest climate is typically hot and wet.

Tropical savanna climate

Tropical savanna climate or tropical wet and dry climate is a type of climate that corresponds to the Köppen climate classification categories "Aw" and "As".

Tropical savanna climates have monthly mean temperatures above 18 °C (64 °F) in every month of the year and typically a pronounced dry season, with the driest month having less than 60 mm (2.36 inches) of precipitation and also less than 100 – [total annual precipitation {mm}/25] of precipitation. This latter fact is in direct contrast to a tropical monsoon climate, whose driest month sees less than 60 mm of precipitation but has more than 100 – [total annual precipitation {mm}/25] of precipitation. In essence, a tropical savanna climate tends to either see less rainfall than a tropical monsoon climate or have more pronounced dry season(s).

In tropical savanna climates, the dry season can become severe, and often drought conditions prevail during the course of the year. Tropical savanna climates often feature tree-studded grasslands, rather than thick jungle. It is this widespread occurrence of tall, coarse grass (called savanna) which has led to Aw and As climates often being referred to as tropical savanna. However, there is some doubt whether tropical grasslands are climatically induced. Additionally, pure savannas, without trees, are the exception rather than the rule.

Tropical wave

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics, and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

United States Basketball League

The United States Basketball League (OTC Pink No Information: USBL), often abbreviated to the USBL, was a professional men's spring basketball league. The league was formed in 1985.

Wet Tropics of Queensland

The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site consists of approximately 8,940 km² of Australian wet tropical forests growing along the north-east Queensland portion of the Great Dividing Range. The Wet Tropics of Queensland meets all four of the criteria for natural heritage for selection as a World Heritage Site. World Heritage status was declared in 1988, and on 21 May 2007 the Wet Tropics were added to the Australian National Heritage List.The tropical forests have the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world. Only Madagascar and New Caledonia, due to their historical isolation, have humid, tropical regions with a comparable level of endemism.The Wet Tropics rainforests are recognised internationally for their ancient ancestry and many unique plants and animals. Many plant and animal species in the Wet Tropics are found nowhere else in the world. The Wet Tropics has the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforests on earth

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