In geography, the temperate or tepid climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes, which span between the tropics and the polar regions. 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.
The north temperate zone extends from the Tropic of Cancer (approximately 23.5° north latitude) to the Arctic Circle (approximately 66.5° north latitude). The south temperate zone extends from the Tropic of Capricorn (approximately 23.5° south latitude) to the Antarctic Circle (at approximately 66.5° south latitude).
In some climate classifications, the temperate zone is often divided into several smaller climate zones, based on monthly temperatures, the coldest month, and rainfall. These include humid subtropical climate, Mediterranean climate, oceanic, and continental climate.
Subtropical climates are generally located between 23.5° and 35.0° north or south latitude on the eastern or leeward sides of landmasses. This climate has long, generally hot, summers and short, mild winters, with annual rainfall often concentrated in the warmest part of the year. These climates may occur in southern Asia, the southeastern United States, parts of eastern Australia, and in eastern coastal South America.
Mediterranean climates occur generally between 30° and 42° north and south latitude, on the western sides of landmasses. This climate has long hot summers and short mild winters; however, seasonal rainfall is the opposite of that of the subtropical humid type, with a winter or cool season rainfall peak being typical. These climates occur near the rimlands of the Mediterranean Sea, in western Australia, in California, and in the southernmost areas of South Africa.
The oceanic climates occur in the higher middle latitudes, between 45° and 60° north and south latitude. They are created by the onshore flow from the cool high latitude oceans to their west. This causes the climate to have cool summers and cool (but not cold) winters. These climates are frequently cloudy. Annual rainfall is spread throughout the entire year. Regions with this climate include Western Europe, northwestern North America, and parts of New Zealand.
The continental climates occur in middle latitudes, between 35° or 40° and 55°. These climates are normally inland or on leeward sides of landmasses. They feature warm to hot summers and cold winters, with a large interseasonal temperature variation. Regions with this climate include northern temperate Asia, the northern United States, southern Canada, and parts of northeastern Europe.
The vast majority of the world's human population resides in temperate zones, especially in the northern hemisphere, due to its greater mass of land. The richest temperate flora in the world is found in southern Africa, where some 24,000 taxa (species and infraspecific taxa) have been described.
Farming is a large-scale practice in the temperate regions due to the plentiful rainfall and warm summers, because most agricultural activity occurs in the spring and summer, cold winters have a small effect on agricultural production. Extreme winters or summers have a huge impact on the productivity of agriculture.
Temperate regions have the majority of the world's population, which leads to large cities. There are a couple factors why the climate of large city landscapes differs from the climate of rural areas. One factor is the strength of the absorption rate of builds and asphalt, which is higher than natural land. The other large factor is the burning of fossil fuels from buildings and vehicles. These factors have led to the average climate of cities to be warmer than surrounding areas.