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What is a formal region?

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A formal region is an area that is designated by official boundaries. These areas are publicly known and include cities, towns, states, counties and countries.

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Regions divide the world into manageable areas that make it easier for geographic studies. There are particular characteristics that help define a region and unify the area. The three types of regions are formal, functional and vernacular. A functional region is defined by its connections — for example, a school district. Vernacular regions are perceived regions. For example, the southern states in the United States are often referred to as simply “the South." Other vernacular regions might include “the Midwest” or the “Middle East.”

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