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Human Geography

One of the two major divisions of geography; the spatial analysis of human population, its cultures, activities, and landscapes.


The art and science of making maps, including data compilation, layout, and design. Also concerned with the interpretation of mapped patterns.


Relationship between the portion of Earth being studied and the Earth as a whole.

Spatial Perspective

Observing variations in geographic phenomena across space

5 Themes of Geography

the five themes of geography are location, human-environment interaction, region, place, and movement.


The system used to transfer locations from Earth's surface to a flat map.

Absolute Location

The position of place of a certain item on the surface of the Earth as expresed in degrees, minutes, and seconds of latitude, 0° to 90° north or south of the equator, and longitude, 0° to 180° east or west of the Prime Meridian passing through Greenwich, England. (Also known as Mathematical Location)

Relative Location

The regional position or situation of a place relative to the position of other places.

Geographic Information System (GIS)

a computer system that can capture, store, query, analyze, and display geographic data. Uses geocoding to calculate relationships between objects on a map's significance

Remote Sensing

The acquisition of data about Earth's surface from a satellite orbiting the planet or other long-distance methods.


An area of Earth distinguished by a distinctive combination of cultural and physical features

Formal/Site Region

An area within which everyone shares in common one or more distinctive characteristics, generally identified to help explain broad global or national patterns, generally illustrating a general concept rather than a precise mathematical distribution

Functional Region

Area organized around a node or focal point/place where there is a central focus that diminishes in importance outward. Used to display information about economic areas.

Perceptual/Vernacular Region

A place that people believe exists as part of their cultural identity from people's informal sense of place such as mental maps.


A book by Ptolemy which was the most detailed description of the known world.

Spatial Distribution

Physical location of geographic phenomena across space. Density, Concentration, and Pattern.


process by which a characteristic spreads across space from one place to another over time (through complex transportation, communications, resulting in complicated interactions) Can mean people in different regions can modify ideas at the same time in different ways.

Relocation Diffusion

The spread of an idea through physical movement of people from one place to another; migrate for political, economic, envir. issues that bring their culture with them to a new place; helps understand spread of AIDS

Expansion Diffusion

The spread of a feature or trend among people from one area to another in a snowballing process

Contagious diffusion

rapid, widespread difufsion of a characteristic throughout the population; diseases and ideas spread without relocation

Hierarchical diffusion

Spread of ana idea from persons or nodes of authority or power to other persons or places of power (hip-hop: low-income people, but urban society); from people/places of power

Stimulus diffusion

spread of an underlying principle, even though a characteristic itself apparently fails to diffuse.

Distance Decay

the diminishing in importance and eventual disappearance of a phenomenon with increasing distance from its origin.

Location Theory

A logical attempt to explain the locational pattern of an economic activity and the manner in which its producing areas
are interrelated. The agricultural location theory contained in the von Thünen model is a leading example.


The expansion of economic, political, and cultural processes to the point that they become global in scale and impact. The processes of globalization transcend state boundaries and have outcomes that vary across places and scales.

Neolithic Revolution

The agricultural revolution- the first time humans began using agriculture.

Chloropleth Map

a thematic map in which ranked classes of some variable are depicted with shading patterns or colors for predefined zones.

Map Distortion

disadvantages for maps depicting the entire world of the: shape, distance, relative size, and direction of places on maps

Isoline Map

a thematic map with lines that connect points of equal value.

Dot Map

a thematic map in which a dot represents some frequency of the mapped variable

Proportional Symbol Map

Portrays numeric quantities with a symbol, with different sizes of symbols being proportional to each others quantities.


The numbering system to indicate the location of a parallel


the numbering system used to indicate the location of meridians drawn on a globe and measuring distance east and west of the Prime Meridian.

Radiation Theory

Humans originated in Africa and then migrated to regions around it.

Cholera Epidemic

One of the first epidemics of disease to be studied by epidemiological methods.


the directness of routes linking pairs of places; an indication of the degree of internal connection in a transport network; all of the tangible and intangible means of connection and communication between places.

Cultural Landscape

A combination of cultural features such as language and religion, economic features such as agriculture and industry, and physical features such as climate and vegetation. (defined by Carl Sauer as an area fashioned from nature by a cultural group) [Cultural Attributes]

Cultural Ecology

Geographic study of human-environment relationships

Cultural Determinism

The way that a cultural environment can influence social development.

Cultural Barriers

Prevailing cultural attitude rendering certain innovations, ideas or practices unacceptable or unadoptable in that particular culture.


The sum total of the knowledge, attitudes, and habitual behavior patterns shared and transmitted by the members of a society. This is anthropologist Ralph Linton's definition; hundreds of others exist.

Transnational Corporation

A business interaction overseas.


The study of humans.

Sequent Occupancy

The notion that successive societies leave their cultural imprints on a place, each contributing to the cumulative cultural landscape. This is an important concept in geography because it symbolizes how humans interact with their surroundings. [Changing attribute of a place]

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