Locales such as cities, neighborhoods, countries, planets or geographical regions are common settings that can be used to stage a story. The setting is important because it establishes the time and place of the plot, which can be invaluable to the progression of the story.
Settings include time of year, cultural environments, climate, geography, historical eras and population. A setting is never just one of these components; instead, it is comprised of many facets that render a deep, realistic landscape for the story.
For stories that have characters who must overcome physical barriers, a natural environment can be very useful. Situate a story in the remote wilderness, a mountain village or a stormy beach. Each of the settings bears different landforms and ecosystems that can be integrated into a character's journey.
The setting of time determines specific environmental, social, economic, political and geographical aspects of a story, as well. For example, setting a story in medieval times helps guide the plot, social circumstances and characters since certain elements of the story are determined by the era.
A story could also be set during a moment in an era that hinges on necessary change. For example, setting a story at the beginning or ending of a major war would make a more dynamic story.