How could one convey the idea that a place is “in the middle” of the geographic area of a country, thus far from the seaside — whether city or town, rural or urban?

The fact that it’s a city or town or rural or urban is not relevant. The only relevant information would be: far from the sea; non-coastal.

This word (or phrase, expression) would be used in sentences like this: “I don’t go to the beach very often, I live [...]” — without needing to say one’s exact location or explain too much, if possible.

Does such straightforward expression (preferably a single word) exist?

  • Could you clarify what the sea has to do with being in a city? There are plenty of large cities near the sea (e.g., Tokyo, Miami, Rio) and plenty that are not. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 13:59
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    Indeed! That's why I was wondering if there's such a word that would let my audience know that I'm talking about a place (small or big) that's not near the sea - "I can't go to the beach so often, I live ... (?) " ("in the countryside" comes to my mind, but whether it's a rural place or not is irrelevant, I just want to point out that it's far from the sea)
    – Monica
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 16:02
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    The natural idiomatic (ie most common) way to get across what you want is: "I don't go to the beach very often, I don't live near the coast."
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 21:50
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    In addition to@Mitch's suggestion, I would expect your sentence to go "I don't go to the beach very often, I live too far away". The US is vast, so many people who live "near the coast" relative to the middle of the country still aren't actually close to the beach. When I lived in LA I knew many people who only made it to the beach once every five years or so because it was a five hour round-trip—despite the fact that they lived approximately a thousand miles (1600 km) closer to the coast than someone in, say, Wyoming.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 2:35
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    Why would someone need to live near an ocean to go to the beach? This is very confusing. If you live in Minnesota, you can certainly go to 10,000 beaches without having to live within reach of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority!
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 3:41

5 Answers 5


In American English, a city which is inland from the sea can be referred to simply as an inland city. The AHD definition—

adj. 1. Of, relating to, or located in the interior part of a country or region: inland freshwater lakes and ponds.

—is typical, but I would say that inland as used in AmE does not usually mean "toward the middle," but rather "away from the coast," and may be very relative depending on context. The Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood is inland from Pacific Palisades, but that isn't much an impediment for getting to the beach, even in Los Angeles traffic.

I hesitate to speak for British English as I know inland is frequently a synonym for domestic (e.g. inland post, Inland Revenue), and geographic sensibilities as to direction and distance are very different, so too with Australia.

If you want to specify that a city is very deep inland, you could refer to it as an interior city—

adj. 1. Of, relating to, or located on the inside; inner. 3. Situated away from a coast or border; inland.

[AHD]. While

Interior more strongly indicates something close to the middle and far from the coasts; Sacramento or Albany or even Washington, D.C. are inland, but I would not expect them to be called interior cities, even if by a technical definition that would be true. Salt Lake City is an interior city, St. Louis is in the interior. In the U.S., this sense may be reinforced because the U.S. Department of the Interior is the division of the federal government which deals with federal lands, natural resources, and Native Americans—far away (or driven away) from the major cities, and again I cannot speak for elsewhere, where an interior ministry is something completely different that has no real U.S. equivalent.

Distance from the borders with Canada or Mexico is more nebulous a requirement; I wouldn't refer to Detroit or El Paso as interior cities, but others might.

Another approach, as @Billy suggests, is to describe the city based on geographic terms that indicate distance from the sea. If I describe Lincoln, Nebraska as a Great Plains city, or Helena, Montana as nestled in the Rockies, or even that Louisville is in Kentucky, someone familiar with American geography will know that they cannot be situated anywhere near the ocean. This only works for a handful of regions, however.

The further danger is that there are cultural associations with certain geographic terminology that may not make sense, particularly with ill-defined terms like heartland or Middle America. Boulder, Colorado is in the middle of America, but it is not of Middle America; its stereotypical resident would not be labeled a Middle American, but its stereotypical resident would not mind that in the slightest.

As to the setting of a city in the countryside, I don't understand your meaning. The very definition of city means that wherever the city is located is not rural. You will encounter farms and ranches and open space driving an hour outside Kansas City, Missouri, but you can also find farms and ranches and open space an hour outside San Diego or Philadelphia.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot! I'm starting to realize it's much more complex than I thought, and one would need to describe their location in more detail depending on where they are or where their audience is from. As geography is something so unique pretty much everywhere you go, I'm guessing there's not a "universal" answer to my question. And regarding the "city in the countryside", I thought I got the distinction clear in my question; I agree with you that a city is not rural, therefore not in the countryside.
    – Monica
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 20:44
  • We have beaches in Boulder. :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 3:44

"I live in the city"? - Does this automatically convey the idea of "no sea"?

No, it does not automatically convey the idea of "no sea." That's because "city" doesn't convey anything about seas, not that it's on a sea, not that it's not on a sea.

Moscow isn't on a sea. Paris isn't on a sea. Madrid isn't on a sea. New Delhi isn't on a sea. Munich isn't on a sea. Prague isn't on a sea. Mexico City isn't on a sea. These are all huge world cities and none of them are on the sea, so what makes you think the word "city" has anything to do with being on a sea?

Terms you might use to describe a city that isn't on a sea:

  • Omaha is in the heartland of the United States.
  • Las Vegas is landlocked, even having no rivers or navigable waterways.
  • Kansas City is in the interior of the United States, almost a thousand miles from any shore.
  • Indianapolis is smack dab in the middle of middle America.
  • Cheyenne, its state's capital and largest city, is in rural Wyoming.
  • Which one would you say is the most used one? "I can't go to the beach so often, I live... in the interior(?)" Is there such a word or phrase that conveys this meaning?
    – Monica
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 16:03
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    I'm not sure rural is a good option -- a city could be in a rural area that borders the ocean. Eureka is a city in a rural part of California and on the ocean. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 20:16

Non-coastal (city / place / area / state), according to Oxford Living Dictionary:

(of an area) not near or having a coast.

One example sentence by ODO:

‘There are some places, notably Shetland, where the art of using fish livers has been developed by a fishing community to an extent which is unimaginable for persons in non-coastal urban environments.’

In your example:

"I don't go to the beach very often, I live in a non-coastal city.

The benefit of this answers over the others is that is straightforward. Most people know what you mean right away.

It's also defined by Eurostat, a Directorate-General of the European Commission (emphasis is mine):

Coastal areas are defined on the basis of the local administrative units or municipalities (LAU-2) and consist of those municipalities (or equivalent local administrative units) within a given country or NUTS 3 region that are bordering the sea or close to the sea:

*if a municipality borders the sea, it is by default coastal;

*if a municipality is not bordering the sea but has 50% of its surface within a distance of 10km from the sea, it is also considered coastal;

All other municipalities are non-coastal.

Attribution: "Non-coastal | Definition of Non-coastal in English by Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries | English. Accessed July 16, 2018. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/non-coastal.

Eurostat. "Glossary:Coastal Area." - Statistics Explained. Accessed July 16, 2018. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:Coastal_area.


It can't just be city because that would include places like Venice.

If your main concern is there be "no sea," then you could use an adjective, and refer to land-based cities.

As for "no countryside," I suppose you could say urban city. That sounds redundant at first, and would likely be confusing outside of context, but it does serve to explicitly set such a thing described apart from a rural town—assuming that just city itself does not.

Assuming that city does not, by definition, mean "no countryside," I don't believe there is any single word or adjective that means both "no countryside" and "no sea."

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    Birmingham is an inland city. Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 14:49

upcountry TFD

  1. of, relating to, residing in, or situated in the interior of a region or country; inland.

  2. the interior of a region or country.

  3. toward, into, or in the interior of a country.

As in: Oxford

‘One thing we coastal dwellers have that upcountry folk don't, is our beaches.’ and

‘Taylor said that people from upcountry and inland were not used to seeing ships, especially not one so close to the shore.’

  • I love it! How regional/common is this word? Can I say that at least in America and England and be quickly understood? "I don't go to the beach very often, I live upcountry"
    – Monica
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 12:24
  • In AmE, less used but used enough that it would be understood.
    – lbf
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 13:08

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