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a two-dimensional or flat scale model of Earth's surface, or a portion of it


a specific point of Earth distinguished by a particular character


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


the relationship between the portion of Earth being studied and Earth as a whole


refers to the physical gap or interval between two objects


relationships among people and objects across the barrier of space


the science of map-making


the scientific method of transferring locations on Earth's surface to a flat map

Land Ordinance of 1785

a law that divided much of the United States into a system of townships to facilitate the sale of land to settlers


a square 6 miles on each side

principal meridians

some of the north-south lines separating townships

base lines

some east-west lines


a square normally 1 mile on a side

GIS (geographic information system)

a computer system that can capture, store, query, analyze and display geographic data

remote sensing

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

GPS (global positioning system)

a system that determines accurately the precise position of something on Earth


the position that something occupies on Earth's surface


the name given to a place on Earth


the physical character of a place


the location of a place relative to other places


an arc drawn between the North and South poles


a circle drawn around the globe parallel to the equator and at right angles to the meridians


the numbering system used to indicate the location of meridians drawn on a globe and measuring distance east and west of the prime meridian

prime meridian

the meridian that passes through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, is 0 degrees longitude


the numbering system to indicate the location of a parallel

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

the time in that time zone encompassing the prime meridian, or 0 degrees longitude

International Date Line

an arc that for the most part follows 180 degrees longitude, although it deviates in several places to avoid dividing land areas

cultural landscape

a combination of cultural features, economic features, and physical features

regional studies

contemporary cultural landscape approach in geography

formal region

an area within which everyone shares in common one or more distinctive characteristics

functional region

an area organized around a node or focal point

vernacular region

a place that people believe exists as a part of their cultural identity

mental map

an internal representation of a portion of Earth's surface


the body of customary beliefs, material traits, and social forms that together constitute the distinct tradition of a group of people

cultural ecology

the geographic study of human-environment relationships

environmental determinism

an approach on how the physical environment caused social development


the theory that the physical environment may set limits on human actions, but people have the ability to adjust the physical environment and choose a course of action from many alternatives


substances that are useful to people, economically and technologically feasible to access, and is socially acceptable to use


a piece of land that is created by draining water from any area


a force of process that involves the entire world and results in making something worldwide in scope


the arrangement of a feature in space


the frequency with which something occurs in space

arithmetic density

the total number of objects in an area

physiological density

the number of persons per unit of area suitable for agriculture

agricultural density

the number of farmers per unit of farmland


the extent of a feature's spread over space


the geometric arrangement of objects in space

space-time compression

a term applied by geographers to describe the reduction in the time it takes for something to reach another place

distance decay

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


the process by which a characteristic spreads across space from one place to another over time


the place from which an innovation originates

relocation diffusion

the spread of an idea through physical movement of people from one place to another

expansion diffusion

the spread of a feature from one place to another in a snowballing process

hierarchical diffusion

the spread of an idea from persons or nodes of authority or power to other persons or places

contagious diffusion

the rapid, widespread diffusion of a characteristic throughout the population

stimulus diffusion

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

uneven development

the increasing gap in economic conditions between regions in the core and periphery that results from globalization of the economy

transnational corporation

conducts research, operates factories, and sells products in many countries

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