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absolute distance

a distance that can be measured with a standard unit of length, such as a mile or a kilometer


human-induced changes on the natural environment

azimuthal projection

a map projection in which the plane is the most development

breaking point

the outer edge of a city's sphere of influence, used in the law of retail gravitation to describe the area of a city's hinterlands that depend on that city for its retail supplies

Carl Sauer

Geographer from the University of California at Berkeley who defined the concept of cultural landscape as the fundamental unit of geographical analysis. This landscape results from the interaction between humans and the physical environment. Sauer argued that virtually no landscape has escaped alteration by human activities.


a type of thematic map that transforms space such that the political unit with the greatest value for some type of data is represented by the largest relative area

choropleth map

a thematic map that uses tones or colors to represent spatial data as averages values per unit area


the actual or potential relationship between two places, usually referring to economic interactions

contagious diffusion

the spread of a disease, an innovation, or cultural traits through direct contact with another person or another place

cultural ecology

the study of the interactions between societies and the natural environments in which they live

cultural landscape

the human-modified natural landscape specifically containing the imprint of a particular culture or society

dot maps

thematic maps that use points to show the precise locations of specific observations or occurrences, such as crimes, car accidents, or births

Earth System Science

a systematic approach to physical geography that looks at the interaction between Earth's physical systems and processes on a global scale


the head librarian at Alexandria during the third century BC; one of the first cartographers; remarkably accurate computation of Earth's circumference; coined term geography

friction of distance

measure of how much absolute distance affects the interaction between two places


actual shape of Earth, which is rough and oblate, or slightly squashed; diameter longer around equator

gravity model

mathematical formula that describes the level interaction between two places, based on the size of their populations and their distance from each other


pertaining to the unique facts or characteristics of particular place

intervening opportunities

proximity wins out when two places have the same product for the same cost


map line that connects points of equal or very similar values


horizontal; parallels

law of retail gravitation

law stating that people will be drawn to larger cities to conduct their business since larger cities have a wider influence on the surrounding hinterlands

location charts

on a map, a chart or graph that gives specific statistical information about a particular political unit or jurisdiction


vertical; Prime Meridian

George Perkins Marsh

provided first description of the extent to which natural systems had been impacted by human actions

Mercator projection

accurate direction, famous for area distortion at the poles


line of longitude that runs north-south; all line of longitude are equal in length and intersect at the poles


concepts or rules that can be applied universally


east-west line of latitude that runs parallel to the equator and that marks distance north or south of the equator

perceptual region

highly individualized definition of regions based on perceived commonalities in culture and landscape

Peters Projection

equal-area projection purposely centered on Africa in an attempt to treat all regions of Earth equally

preference map

map that displays individual preferences for certain places

proportional symbols map

thematic map in which the size of the chosen symbol indicates the relative magnitude of some statistical value for a given geographic region


Roman geographer-astronomer, author of Guide to Geography, which included maps containing a grid system of latitude and longitude

qualitative data

data associated with a more humanistic approach to geography, often collected through interviews, empirical observations, or the interpretation of texts, artwork, old maps, and other archives

quantitative data

data associated with mathematical models and statistical techniques used to analyze spatial location and association

quantitative revolution

period in human geography associated with the widespread adoption of mathematical models and statistical techniques

reference map

shows reference information for a particular place, making it useful for finding landmarks and for navigation

relative distance

measure of distance that includes the costs of overcoming the friction of absolute distance separating two places; often describes the amount of social, cultural, or economic connectivity between two places


map's smallest discernible unit

Robinson projection

projection that attempts to balance several possible projection errors; does not maintain area, shape, distance, or direction completely accurately, but it minimizes errors in each

sense of place

feelings evoked by people as a result of certain experiences and memories associated with a particular place

spatial perspective

intellectual framework that looks at the particular locations of a specific phenomenon, how and why that phenomenon is where it is, and finally how it is spatially related to phenomena in other places

topographic maps

use isolines to represent constant elevations

topological space

amount of connectivity between places regardless of the absolute distance separating them


costs involved in moving goods from one place to another


use of sophisticated software to create dynamic computer maps, some of which are three dimensional or interactive

W.D. Pattison

claimed that geography drew from four distinct traditions; the earth-science tradition, culture-environment tradition, locational tradition, and area-analysis tradition

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