This article is about the geographical term. For other uses, see Hinterland (disambiguation).
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Hinterland is a German word meaning "the land behind" (a city, a port, or similar).[1] The term's use in English was first documented by geographer George Chisholm in his Handbook of Commercial Geography (1888).[2]

Etymology and usage

The term hinterland has several meanings. It may refer to:

Geographic region

Breadth of knowledge

A further sense in which the term is commonly applied, especially by British politicians, is in talking about an individual's depth and breadth of knowledge of other matters (or lack thereof), specifically of academic, artistic, cultural, literary and scientific pursuits. For instance, one could say, "X has a vast hinterland", or "Y has no hinterland". The spread of this usage is usually credited to Denis Healey (British Defence Secretary 1964–1970, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1974–1979) and his wife Edna Healey, initially in the context of the supposed lack of hinterland of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.[5]

In popular culture

The term figures prominently in numerous works of popular culture. See Hinterland (disambiguation).


  1. Hinterland – pons.eu, Pons Online Dictionary
  2. Definition of the term hinterland on Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com
  3. Douglas Kerr (June 1, 2008). Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in British Writing. Hong Kong University Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-962-209-934-0.
  4. Allan Woodburn, Hinterland connections to seaports, unece.org, January 23, 2009. Accessed 2009.10.01.
  5. See, for example, Roy Hattersley's review of Edward Pearce's biography of Healey, and Healey's autobiography Time of My Life (1989).
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