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absolute distance

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

absolute location

The exact position of an object or place, measured with the spatial coordinates of a grid system.


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 spacial data as average values per unit area.

cognitive map

An image of a portion of the earth's surface that a person creates in his or her mind._____ can include knowledge of actual locations and relationships between locations as well as person exceptions and preferences of particular places.

contagious diffusion

The rapid, widespread diffusion of a feature or trend throughout a population

distance decay

The decrease in interaction between two phenomena, places, or people as the distance between them increases.

dot maps

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

expansion diffusion

The spread of ideas, innovations, fashion, or other phenomena to surrounding areas through contact and exchange.

friction of distance

The increase in time and cost that usually comes with increasing distance, concerning interaction.

hierarchical diffusion

the spread of a feature or trend from one key person ot node of authority or power to other persons or places.

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. When you cross the ________ heading east, the clock moves back 24 hours, when you go west, the calendar moves ahead 24 hours

intervening opportunity

the presence of a nearer oppurtunity that greatly diminishes the attractiveness of sites farther away

isoline map

a map which uses lines joining points of an equal value to show variations in that value

large scale

A relatively small ratio between map units and ground units. _____maps usually have higher resolution and cover much smaller regions.


the numbering system used to indicate the location of parallels drawn on a globe and measuring distance north and south of the equator


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

map projection(s)

A mathematical method that involves transferring the earth's sphere onto a flat surface. This term can also be used to describe the type of map that results from the process of projecting. All _____ have distortions in either area, direction, distance, or shape.


A line of longitude that runs north-south. All lines of longitude are equal in length and intersect at the poles. Another term for a longitude


An east-west line of latitude that runs parallel to the equator and that marks distance north or south of the equator.Another name for latitude

Physical geography

the study of where and why natural forces occur as they do

Prime meridian

An imaginary line passing through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, which marks the 0° line of longitude.


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

relative distance

approximate measurement of the physical space between two places

relative location

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

relocation diffusion

The spread of a feature or trend through bodily movement of people from one place to another.


the physical characteristics of a place


The location of a place relative to other places

small scale

Map scale ratio in which the ratio of units on the map to units on the earth is quite small. _____ maps usually depict large areas.

Space time compression

The reduction in the time it takes to diffuse something to a distant place, as a result of improved communications and transportation systems

stimulus diffusion

The spread of an underlying principle, even though a specific characteristic is rejected

thematic map

A type of map that displays one or more variables--such as population, or income level--within a specific area.


containing two or more ethnic groups

topographic map

A map of a surface feature, natural and human, drawn to scale

Vernacular Region

an area that people believe exists as part of their cultural identity


the science of making maps


the spread of something over a given area

cultural ecology

Geographic approach that emphasizes human-environment relationships

cultural hearth

place of origin of a major culture

declination (magnetic declination)

The latitude where, on any particular day, the sun is 90 degrees above the horizon at solar noon


The frequency with which something exists within a given unit of area


The arrangement of something across Earth's surface

environmental determinism

A 19th and early 20th century approach to the study of geography that argued that the general laws sought by human geographers could be found in the physical sciences. Geography was therefore the study of how the physical environment caused human activities.

formal region

a region in which everyone shares in one or more distinctive characteristics

functional region

a region organized around a node or focal point

GIS (geographic information system)

a computer system that stores, organizes, analyzes, and displays geographic data


actions or processes that involve the entire world and result in making something worldwide in scope

GPS (global postioning system)

a system that determines the precise position of something on Earth through a series of satellites, tracking stations, and receivers

greenwich mean time

the current time of the time zone encompassing the prime meridian, or 0 degrees longitude

human geography

the study of where and why human activities are located where they are


a two-dimensional representation of Earth's surface or a portion of it


generally, the relationship between the portion of Earth being studied and Earth as a whole, specifically the relationship between the size of an object on a map and the size of the actual feature on Earth's surface


the geometric or regular arrangement of something in a study area

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