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capitalization: geographical terms

Capitalize the names of countries, regions, counties, cities and other official and specified political, administrative and geographical divisions and topographical features:

  • El Salvador
  • the Northern Hemisphere
  • the International Boundary
  • the Prairies
  • the Canadian Shield
  • the Maritimes
  • the Atlantic provinces
  • the Ontario Region (sector of government department)
  • the Crow’s Nest Pass
  • the Grassy Narrows Reserve
  • the Pacific
  • Lanark County
  • Sherbrooke
  • Pickle Lake
  • Elm Street West
  • the Okanagan Valley
  • the South Saskatchewan River
  • the Northwest Territories

Generic terms

Capitalize a generic term when it is an accepted short form of the proper noun:

  • the Continent
  • the States

Do not capitalize a generic term such as city, county, state or province when it precedes the proper noun or stands alone, unless it is used in a corporate sense:

  • She lives in the city of Regina. (place)
  • I have travelled all over the province of Ontario. (place)
  • The states of Switzerland are called cantons.


  • Buy Province of Ontario bonds. (provincial government)
  • The City of Regina took him to court. (municipal government)
  • The State of New York has revamped its social assistance programs. (state government)

Do not capitalize a generic term used in the plural unless it is part of a geographical name:

  • lakes Huron and Ontario
  • the Thompson and Fraser rivers


  • the Rocky Mountains
  • the South Seas