Nitisols occur mainly in the tropics and subtropics, as well as in areas with a Mediterranean type of climate. They are associated with basic rocks (e.g. basalts) or hard limestone or dolomite deposits.
Soils having a nitic horizon (a horizon with pronounced nut-shaped soil structure and significant amount of active iron) within 100 cm from the soil surface, and gradual to diffuse horizon boundaries between the surface and the underlying horizons. They do not have a ferric, plinthic or vertic horizon within 100 cm from the soil surface.