In geography, a plain (pleyn) is land that is flat or gently rolling, with relatively low relief. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrub lands, woodland and forest, or vegetation may be absent in the case of sandy or stony plains in hot deserts. Types of flatlands for which the term is not generally used include those covered entirely and permanently by swamps, marshes, playas, or ice sheets.
Plains occur as lowlands and at the bottoms of valleys but also on plateaus at high elevations. In a valley, a plain is enclosed on two sides but in other cases a plain may be delineated by a complete or partial ring of hills, by mountains or cliffs. Where a geological region contains more than one plain, they may be connected by a pass (sometime termed a gap). Plains may have been formed from flowing lava, deposited by water, ice or wind, or formed by erosion by these agents from hills and mountains.
Plains in many areas are important for agriculture because where the soils were deposited as sediments they may be deep and fertile, and the flatness facilitates mechanization of crop production; or because they support grasslands which provide good grazing for livestock.