Plains are of great importance to man. Their importance in man’s physical environment cannot be overemphasized. Plains occupy more than 50% of the continental landmass.
Mention may be made of alluvial plains formed by rivers which are of special importance to man because they have fertile soils, enough of surface and ground water helping to produce different types of crops.
It may be stated that all the important food crops as well as the commercial crops are grown on plains. Moreover, it is easier to develop means of transport and communication on plains than elsewhere such as, plateaux and mountains.
As we know all the great agricultural regions of different countries of the world are on plains.
Where plains have favourable climate and soils conducive to agriculture, as much as 80 per cent of the land is devoted to agriculture, leaving the rest for building houses, cities and towns, and roads etc.
Besides, plains suitable for human habitation also favour contact between human populations and the spread of ideas, culture and trade etc. Keeping in view various advantages that the plains offer to man practically all the large cities and metropolitan centers of the world are situated on plains.
It may be mentioned that coastal plains of the Netherlands and Denmark, alluvial plains such as those of India’s north plain, delta plains such as that of the Nile in Egypt are especially favourable to man because of their fertile and productive soils and availability of means of transportation.
It should be borne in mind that climates as well as soils are the two most important factors which control the use of plains. Unfavourable climatic conditions and poor soils restrict the use of plains for human habitation.
Hot deserts in tropical regions and the cold deserts in the Tundra have sparse population because climatic conditions in these regions, despite their favourable surface configuration do not offer opportunities for human settlements.
Remember that surface configuration alone does not make plains useful. Had it been so, the tropical deserts such as the Sabara, the Gobi, the Arabian and the Australian deserts would not have remained of little use to man.
Even coastal, alluvial and delta plains suffer from certain disadvantages like flood hazards which offset the advantages of fertile soils and cheap water transportation.