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absolute location

The position or place of a certain item on the surface of the earth as expressed in degrees, minutes, and seconds of a latitude, 0 degrees to 90 degrees North or South of the equator, and longitude, 0degrees to 180 degrees east or west of the prime meridian passing through Greenwich, England.


The degree of ease with which it is possible to reach a certain location from other locations. Accessibility varies from place to place and can be measured.

activity space

The space which in daily activity occurs.


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


The degree of direct linkage between one particular location and other locations in a transport network.

contagious diffusion

The distance - controlled spreading of an idea, innovation, or some other item through a local population by contact from person to person - analogous to the communication of a contagious illness.

cultural barrier

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

cultural diffusion

The expansion and adoption of a cultural element, from the place of origin to a wider area.

cultural ecology

The multiple interactions and relationships between a culture and the natural environment.

cultural hearth

Heartland, source area, innovation center; place of origin or major culture.

cultural landscape

The visible imprint of human activity and culture on the landscape. The layers of buildings, forms, and artifacts sequentially imprinted on the landscape by the activities of various human occupants.

culture complex

A related set of cultural traits, such as prevailing dress codes and cooking and eating utensils.

culture trait

A single element of normal practice in a culture, such as the wearing of a turban.


The sun 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.


Measurement of the physical space between two places.

environmental determinism

The view that natural environment as a controlling influence over various aspects of human life, including cultural development. Also referred to as environmentalism.


Regional outbreak of a disease.

expansion diffusion

The spread of an innovation or ideas through a population in an area in which such a way that the number of those influenced grows continuously larger, resulting in an expanding area of dissemination.

field work

The study of geographic phenomenon by visiting places and observing how people interact with and thereby change those places.

five themes

Developed by the geography education national implementation project (GEN IP), the five themes of geography are location, human û environment, region, place, and movement.

formal region

A type of region marked by a certain degree homogeneity in one or more phenomenon; also called uniform region or homogeneous region.

functional region

A region marked by the particular set of activities or interactions that occur within it.

generalized map

Help us see general trends, but we cannot see all cases of a given phenomenon.


A hunt for a cache, the global positioning system (GPS) 40 minutes which are placed on the Internet by other geocachers.

geographic concept

Ways of seeing the world spatially that are used by geographers in answering research questions.

geographic information system- (GIS)

A collection of computer hardware and software that permits spatial data to be collected, recorded, stored, retrieved, manipulated, analyzed, and displayed to the user.

global positioning system

(GPS) Satellite-based system for determining the absolute location of places or geographic features.


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

hierarchical diffusion

A form of diffusion in which an idea or innovation spreads by passing first among those most connected places or people an urban hierarchy is usually involved, encouraging the leap-frogging of innovations over wide areas, with geographic distance of less important influence.

human geography

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


The second theme of geography as defined by the geography educational national implementation project; reciprocal relationship between humans and environment.

independent invention

The term for a trait with many cultural hearths that developed independent of each other.


The overall appearance of an area. Most landscapes are comprised of a combination of natural and human - induced influences.

location theory

A logical attempt to explain the location pattern of an economic activity and the manner in which it's producing areas are interrelated. The agricultural location contained in the Von Thunen model is a leading example.


The first theme of geography as defined by the geography educational national implementation project; the geographical situation of people and things.

medical geography

The study of health and disease within a geographic context and from a geographical perspective. Among other things, medical geography looks at sources, diffusion routes, and distribution of diseases.

mental maps

Image or picture of the way space is organized as determined by an individual's perception, impression, and knowledge of that space.


The fifth theme of geography as defined by the geography educational national implementation project; the mobility of people, goods and ideas across the surface of the planet.


An outbreak of a disease that spreads worldwide. See also and endemic.


The design of spatial distribution (e.g. scattered or concentrated).

perception of place

Belief or "understanding" about - place developed through books, movies, stories or pictures.

perceptual region

A region that only exists as a conceptualization or an idea and not as a physically demarcated entity. For example, in the United States, the south and the mid - Atlantic region are perceptual regions.

physical geography

One of the two major divisions of systematic geography; the spatial analysis of the structure, processes, and location of the earth and natural phenomena such as climate, soil, plants, animals, and topography.


The fourth theme of geography as defined by the geography educational national implementation project; uniqueness of a location.

political ecology

An approach to studying nature - society relations that is concerned with the ways in which environmental issues both reflect, and are the result of, the political and socioeconomic context in which they are situated.


Geographic viewpoint - a response to determinism - that holds that human decision-making, not the environment, is the crucial factor in cultural development. Nonetheless, possiblists view the environment as providing a set of broad constraints that limits the possibilities of human choice.

reference maps

Maps that show the absolute location of places and geographic features determined by a frame of reference, typically latitude and longitude.


The third being a geography as defined by the geography educational national implementation project; an area on the earth's surface marked by a degree of formal, functional, or perceptual homogeneity of some phenomenon.

relative location

The regional position or situation of a place relative to the position of other places. Distance, accessibility, and connectivity affect relative location.

relocation diffusion

Sequential diffusion process in which the items being defused or transmitted by their carrier agents as they evacuate the old areas and relocate to new ones. The most common form of relocation diffusion involves the spreading of innovations by a migrating population.

remote sensing

A method of collecting data or information through the use of instruments that are physically distant from the area or object of study. (eg. Satellites )


Involvement of players at other scale to generate support for position for an initiative (Eg., Use of the Internet to generate interest on a national or global scale for a local position or initiative).

sense of place

State of mind derived through the infusion of a place with meaning and emotion by remembering important events that occurred in that place or by labeling a place with a certain character.

sequent occupance

The notion that successive societies leave their cultural imprints on a place, each contributing to the cumulative cultural landscape.

spatial distribution

Physical location of geographic phenomenon across space.

spatial interaction

Depends on distances and use of reaching one location to another, and use of transportation and communication between areas.

spatial perspective

Observing variations in geographic phenomenon across space.


Pertaining to space on the Earth's surface; sometimes used as a synonym for geographic.

stimulus diffusion

A form of diffusion in which a cultural adaptation is created as a result of the introduction of a cultural trait from another place.

thematic maps

Maps that tell stories, typically showing the degree of some attribute where the movement of a geographic phenomenon.

time-distance decay

The declining degree of acceptance of an idea or innovation with increasing time and distance from its point of origin or source.

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