Chapter 1

Geography
Geography
Description of the earth. The study of the earth as the home of humankind.
Ethnogeographies
Systems of geographic knowledge used by indigenous peoples who have not had written languages.
Six Essential Elements of Geography
Summary of what geographic research and education involve today and what distinguishes geography from other fields.
Element #1: The World in Spatial Terms
Geography studies the relationships between people, places, and environments by mapping information about them into a spatial context.
Element #2: Places and Regions
The identities and lives of individuals and peoples are rooted in particular places and in human constructs called regions.
Element #3: Physical Systems
Physical processes shape the earth’s surface and interact with plant and animal life to create, sustain, and modify ecosystems.
Element #4: Human Systems
People are central to geography; human activities, settlements, and structures help shape the earth’s surface, and humans compete for control of the earth’s surface.
Element #5: Environment and Society
The physical environment is influenced by the ways in which human societies value and use the earth’s physical features and processes.
Element #6: Uses of Geography
Knowledge of geography enables people to develop an understanding of the relationship between people, places, and environments over time – of the earth as it was and might be.
Physical Geography
Concerned with the climate, landforms, soils, and physiography of the earth’s surface.
Human Geography
Concerned with the indigenous peoples of a particular geographic region.
Human-environment interaction
How people affect, and are affected by, a geographic environment.
Human agency
Humans’ role in changing the face of the earth.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859)
“Felling the trees which cover the sides of the mountains provokes in every climate two disasters for future generations: a want of fuel and a scarcity of water.”
Carl Sauer (1889 – 1975)
“We have accustomed ourselves to think of ever expanding productive capacity, of ever fresh spaces of the world to be filled with people, of ever new discoveries of kinds and sources of raw materials, of continuous technical progress operating indefinitely to solve problems of supply. We have lived so long in what we have regarded as an expanding world, that we reject in our contemporary theories of economics and of population the realities that contradict such views. Yet our modern expansion has been effected in large measure at the cost of an actual and permanent impoverishment of the world.”
Landscape perspective
Founded by Sauer; method of studying the transformation through time of a natural landscape to a cultural landscape.
Landscape
The collection of physical and human geographic features on the earth’s surface.
Culture
The realm of anthropology.
World regional approach
Ranges across the human and physical subfields of geography, synthesizing, simplifying, and characterizing the human experiences of earth as home.
Regions
Eight spatial geographic subdivisions. Regions are human constructs.
Formal region
All the population shares a defining trait or set of traits.
Functional region
Spatial unit characterized by a central focus on some activity (often economic)
Vernacular region
Exists in the mind of a large number of people, and may play an important role in cultural identity but does not necessarily have official or clear-cut borders.
Space
The precise placement of locations on the face of the earth.
Place
The physical and cultural context of a location.
Spatial
Pertaining to space.
Cartography
The science of making maps.
Scale
The amount of reduction found within distances on a map.
Large-scale map
Relatively-large fraction that portrays a relatively-small area in detail.
Small-scale map
A small-representative fraction that portrays a relatively-large area in more generalized terms.
Relative location
A place in relationship to other places.
Absolute location
Uses coordinate systems to label places so that every place has its own unique location.
Coordinate systems
Grids whose linear intersections create the locations of addresses via a unique and mathematical situation.
Core location
Prosperity growth in a select ‘core’ of countries.
Peripheral location
The rest of the countries in the world.
Land hemisphere
Northern hemisphere, possessing the bulk of the earth’s land masses.
Water hemisphere
Southern hemisphere, possessing the bulk of the earth’s water masses.
Statute mile
Land-mile; 5,280 feet.
Nautical mile
Sea-mile; 6,076 feet.
Prime meridian
Runs through Greenwich, with a latitude of 0*.
International date line
Separates two calendar days. West is a day ahead, east is a day behind.
Map projection
Way of displaying the curved globe on a flat piece of paper; azimuthal projections.
Cylindrical projections
Around the equator or the entire world.
Conic projections
Perfect for middle latitudes or larger areas.
Reference maps
Locations of various features of the earth’s surface and their relationship to one another.
Thematic maps
Showing spatial relationships and distributions, but only for one phenomenon.
Mental map
Collection of personal geographic information that we use to organize spatially images and facts we possess about places in the world.
Geographic Information Systems
A computerized system designed to help people analyze, manage, and visualize geographic data.
Remote sensing
Use of various kinds of satellite imagery and photography to assess land use or other geographic patterns.

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