A mesa (Spanish and Portuguese for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape.
It is a characteristic landform of arid environments, particularly the Western and Southwestern United States in badlands and mountainous regions ranging from Washington and California to the Dakotas and Texas. Examples are also found in many other nations including Spain, Sardinia, North and South Africa, Arabia, India, and Australia.
The term mesa is used throughout the United States to describe a flat-topped mountain or hill. In Spanish such a landform is more usually known as a meseta.
Famous quotes containing the word mesa:
“This mesa plain had an appearance of great antiquity, and of incompleteness; as if, with all the materials for world-making assembled, the Creator had desisted, gone away and left everything on the point of being brought together, on the eve of being arranged into mountain, plain, plateau. The country was still waiting to be made into a landscape.”
—Willa Cather (18731947)