Glossary Terms: Introduction to Geography and Maps

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Location based on latitude and longitude coordinates

absolute location

Two Greek philopsophers who believed the Earth was round

Aristotle and Plato

Maps that assign space by the size of some form of data; eg. population

cartograms

Map makers; concerned with the problem of distortion

cartographers

The density of a phenomenon over an area, either clustered or agglomerated

concentration

Maps that distort area but keep shapes intact

conformal maps

Maps that put a cone over the Earth keeping distance intact but losing directional qualities

conic projection maps

Cultural attributes of an area often used to describe a place; eg. buildings, theaters, places of worship.

cultural landscape

Maps that show true direction but lose distance: eg. Mercator map.

cylindrical maps

A time when academic thought was not advancing in Europe but was very active in the rest of the world.

Dark Ages

Describes how often an object occurs within a given area or space; most often used in terms of population density.

density

Describes the spread or movement of a principle or idea.

diffusion

This terms comes from the idea that everything on Earth's surface must have a physical location. There are three different aspects of distribution: density, concentration, and pattern.

distribution

An important development in the field of geography in the early 20th century that stated that human behaviors are a direct result of their environment. This philosophy gave some people the justification to believe that Europeans were smarter than other people's, because they live in a more temperate climate.

environmental determinism

Maps that try to distribute distortion equally throughout the map; these maps distort shapes.

equal-area projection maps

The term used to describe the spread of a characteristic from a central node through various means. There are three different types of expansion diffusion: heirarchical, contagious, and stimulus diffusions.

expansion diffusion

Maps that are good for determining movement, such as migration trends.

flow-line maps

Regions where anything and everything inside has the same characteristic or phenomena.

formal regions

Regions that can be defined around a certain point or node; functional regions are most intense around the center but lose their characteristics as the distance from the focal point increases.

functional regions

A way for geographers to obtain new information, GIS layers geographic information into a new map, showing specific types of geographic data. Watershed, population density, highways, and agricultural data are geographic features that can be used as layers of data.

Geographic Information System (GIS)

A way for geographers to obtain new information, GPS technology is found in cars and cellphones; it uses the Earth's latitude and logitude coordinates to determine an exact location.

Geographical Positioning System (GPS)

The description of the Earth's surface and the people and processes that shape those landscapes

Geography

One of the first people to produce a world map that showed, with relative accuracy, the general outline of the continents. His map exaggerated the landforms around the polar regions, because all lines of latitude and longitude meet at right angles.

Gerardus Mercator

The notion that a phenomenon spreads as a result of a social elite, such as political leaders, entertainment leaders, or famous athletes, spreading societal ideas or trends.

heirarchical diffusion

The study of human charactrersitics on the landscape, including population, agriculture, urbanization, and culture.

Human Geography

Parallel lines that run east/west on the surface of the Earth; the highest degree of this is 90 degrees.

latitudes

Parallel lines that run north/south on the surface of the Earth. The Prime Meridian is one.

longitudes

The basic tools used by geographers to convey information. Maps generally are a representation of the Earth's surface, although they do come in many forms.

maps

A map that contains what a person believes to exist; most people have their own idea of these maps, and they prove to be useful tools in communication.

mental maps

A time after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Enlightenment.

Middle Ages

The term used to describe the physical spread of people moving from one place to another.

migration diffusion

Maps that conbine the cylindrical and conic projections; eg. Molleweide projection.

oval projection maps

Describing how objects are organized in a space, patterns can be anything from triangular to linear or even three-dimensional.

pattern

Maps that show true direction and examine the Earth from one point, usually from a pole or a polar direction; eg. any azimuthal map.

planar maps

An approach to geography favored by contemporary geographers that suggests that humans are not a product of their environment but possess skills necessary to change their environment to satisfy human needs. With this approach, people can determine their own outcomes without regard to location.

possibilist

Wrote the series Guide to Geography, which gave very detailed descriptions of cities and people during the Greek period when the Roman Empire took hold of the Mediterranean region.

Ptolemy

A concept used to link different places together based on any parameter the geographer chooses.

region

A location that is based on, or refers to, another feature on the Earth's surface.

relative location

The relationship between the size of a map to the amount of the planet it represents, the dimension into which one is trying to cast the real world.

scale

Concerned with how linked a place is to the outside world, this theme of geography deals mainly with area, because how well an area is connected to the world determines its importance.

spatial interaction or movement

Used to determine some type of geographic phenomenon, thematic maps can be represented in various ways: area class maps, area symbol maps, cartograms, choropleth maps, digital images, dot maps, flow-line maps, isoline maps, point symbol maps, and proportional symbol maps.

thematic maps

A region that exists primarily in the individual's perception or feelings (eg. the concept of "the South" differs depending on where someone lives in the United States).

vernacular region

In the mid 1400s, this famous Chinese explorer wrote in his journal of a coast with tall trees and mountains expanding as far as the eye could see. It is suspected that he may have come across the coast of Alaska or even the West Coast of the United States. His most famous explorations include those around the Indian Ocean.

Zheng He

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