There are two main meanings for the word landscape: it can refer to the visible features of an area of land, the landforms and how they integrate with natural or man-made features or to an example of the genre of Landscape painting that depicts such views of an area of land.
A Landscape, in both senses, includes the physical elements of geophysically defined landforms such as (ice-capped) mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of land use, buildings and structures, and transitory elements such as lighting and weather conditions.
Combining both their physical origins and the cultural overlay of human presence, often created over millennia, landscapes reflect a living synthesis of people and place that is vital to local and national identity. The character of a landscape helps define the self-image of the people who inhabit it and a sense of place that differentiates one region from other regions. It is the dynamic backdrop to people’s lives. Landscape can be as varied as farmland, a landscape park, or wilderness.
The earth has a vast range of landscapes, including the icy landscapes of polar regions, mountainous landscapes, vast arid desert landscapes, islands and coastal landscapes, densely forested or wooded landscapes including past boreal forests and tropical rainforests, and agricultural landscapes of temperate and tropical regions.
Landscape may be further considered under the following categories: landscape art, cultural landscape, landscape ecology, landscape planning, landscape assessment and landscape design. The activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land is named landscaping.