hin·​ter·​land | \ ˈhin-tər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio) , -lənd\

Definition of hinterland

1 : a region lying inland from a coast
2a : a region remote from urban areas
b : a region lying beyond major metropolitan or cultural centers

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Did You Know?

When you're dealing with geography, it helps to know your hinterland from your umland. In 1888, geographer George Chisholm borrowed the German word Hinterland (literally, "land in back of") and applied it specifically to the region just inland from a port or coastal settlement. (Chisholm spelled the word hinderland, but English speakers eventually settled on "hinterland.") Early in the 20th century, another geographer adopted the German Umland ("land around") to refer to the territory around an inland town. What "hinterland" and "umland" have in common is a reference to a region economically tied to a nearby city. But nowadays "hinterland" has a less technical use as well; it's used for land that's simply out in the sticks.

Examples of hinterland in a Sentence

the colonies hugged the coastline, while the hinterland remained largely unexplored

Recent Examples on the Web

But the challenge for these countries—as for any hinterland reliant on supplying labour to produce goods for richer neighbours, maquiladora-style—is to keep closing the income gap. The Economist, "Central Europe’s Goldilocks economies," 5 July 2018 Get our daily newsletter Ethnic tension in Syria’s east dates back decades, a legacy of the divide-and-rule tactics used by President Bashar al-Assad and his father before him in the country’s hinterlands. The Economist, "America’s strategy against Islamic State is storing up trouble," 26 May 2018 In this case, however, most of the group’s supporters came from the Oromo hinterland, which surrounds the capital, and tens of thousands flocked into the city. Paul Schemm, The Seattle Times, "Ethiopia’s ethnic divides rock capital," 17 Sep. 2018 Towering on a cliff top overlooking Kimmeridge Bay is Clavell Tower, a four-floor, Tuscan style building that offers the most striking views of the Dorset coast and its hinterland. Max Maeckler, Vogue, "You Can Rent a Pineapple Palace on the Airbnb For Historic Homes," 16 Aug. 2018 Smiley’s character, on the other hand, gave the MI6 officer himself a certain mystique, suggesting a rich hinterland. Henry Hemming, WSJ, "Rendezvous With le Carré," 1 Sep. 2017 The meeting with the world’s most wanted man took place at a secret location in the barren hinterland of eastern Syria, at the heart of Islamic State’s shrinking realm. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Prisoner Recounts Secret Meeting With ISIS Leader Baghdadi," 17 Aug. 2018 Yemeni fighters combating the group in the hinterlands of Shabwa and Abyan provinces say al-Qaeda has weathered this pounding and remains a fierce opponent. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "U.S. airstrikes are pounding the group in Yemen, yet the militants fight on fiercely," 6 July 2018 Islamic State militants are hunkered down a few miles away in their last refuge: the desert hinterlands straddling the Iraq-Syria border. Nabih Bulos, latimes.com, "It's an awkward dance as the U.S., Russia and Iran all zero in on Islamic State," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hinterland.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hinterland

1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hinterland

German, from hinter hinder + Land

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Statistics for hinterland

Last Updated

6 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for hinterland

The first known use of hinterland was in 1890

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More Definitions for hinterland



English Language Learners Definition of hinterland

: an area that is not close to any cities or towns : a remote region


hin·​ter·​land | \ ˈhin-tər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio) \

Kids Definition of hinterland

: a region far from cities

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