1 : a region lying inland from a coast
2 a : a region remote from cities
b : a region lying beyond major metropolitan or cultural centers
Did You Know?
When you’re dealing with geography, it helps to know your hinterland from your umland. In the late 19th century, geographer George Chisholm took note of 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. Nowadays, hinterland has a less technical use as well—it can be used for land that is simply out in the sticks. It can also be applied figuratively.
“All the same, the large turnout, particularly unusual in Russia’s quiescent hinterland, posed a bold challenge to the Kremlin, exposing deep wells of public anger as Russia struggles with the economic damage left by the coronavirus pandemic and growing fatigue with political stagnation.” — Andrew Higgins, The New York Times, 18 July 2020
“Edmund, summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike’s shoes was to be found, had no views on the subject.” — P. G. Wodehouse, Mike and Psmith, 1909