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Geographic Concepts and Map Tools

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Andrew Paulsen

on 23 August 2018

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Transcript of Geographic Concepts and Map Tools

Regions, areas with common characteristics, are derived from an area’s landscape: it’s features both cultural and physical.
Cultural landscape come from human activity
Physical landscapes come from nature
A region’s uniqueness comes from the combination of both physical and cultural attributes.

Geography used to be the science of mapmaking (cartography).
As maps and technology got more sophisticated, so did geography.
A philosopher named Immanual Kant once explained: Geographers look at where and why. Geography can apply to anything.
What is Geography?

How would Geography (where and why) be important to fast food restaurants?
How would Geography (where and why) be important to dating?

Physical geography focuses on the natural world: landforms, climates, etc.
Human geography is more concerned with the location of human activities: cultures, cities, the spread of ideas, etc.
Human geography still considers the natural world, but how it affects humans.

Human Geography v. Physical Geography

Geography asks the question “Where?”, which makes it spatial.
Geographers look for patterns (spatial distribution).
Geography then tries to answer the question “Why?”, which is spatial analysis.
Geographers look for processes that explain the patterns they see.

Spatial Perspective

Create a circle map defining Spatial Perspective


Women Leaders: Patterns? Explanation?
Map of Trafficking: Pattern? Explanation?
The Spatial Perspective
The Five Themes of Geography
Geographers look at where things happen.
Absolute location/mathematical location: exact spot on the globe using longitude and latitude
Relative location/ situation: describing where something is using what’s nearby
Geographers use location theory to try to explain why things occur where they do. It also can predict where good spots would be for various activities (business, cities, etc.)


Geographers look at the relationship between nature and humans which is reciprocal: nature affects humans, humans affect/change nature.
Cultures can interact with nature differently, called cultural ecology.
Environmental Determinism: Local environment is most important factor in development of culture.
Possibilism: People’s decisions are most important factor in development of culture.

Human-Environment Interaction

Does this comic represent Possibilism or Environmental Determinism?


Geographers look for patterns or similarities in areas or between areas.
Areas with common characteristics or processes are regions (corn belt, desert region, spanish-speaking, etc.)
Creating and naming these areas is called regionalization.


Describing the special characteristics of an area falls under the theme of place.
Site is the term for physical character of a spot (mountains, rivers, climate, etc.)
Sense of place is the meaning/feelings people have for a particular area.
Perceptions of place are ideas about an area from stories, pictures, media, etc.


Describe your “happy place” to someone next to you.
What do you think of with with China?


Geography studies where something starts (hearth) and how it spreads (diffusion).
The connection between areas is called Spatial Interaction. It’s based on:
Distance- How far apart? This is impacted by distance-decay and time-space compression/convergence
Accessibility- What barriers are in the way? (physical and man-made barriers)
Connectivity- How integrated? (networks of roads, internet, etc.)


Distance Decay
Time Space Compression
Create a Tree Map for Five Themes of Geography.


Diffusion is the process of some characteristic (trait) spreading to another place over time
Hearth is the area where the trait started
The combination of characteristics make up the cultural complex: the unique culture of an area.
Sometimes, a trait has many hearths which is called independent invention.

What is Diffusion?

This is the spread of an idea through the physical movement of people
What is Relocation Diffusion?

Draw an example of a trait that came to California through relocation diffusion.

This is the spread of a trait from one location to another because people learn or adopt the idea. The area of the trait expands or grows.
Hierarchal diffusion- spread of ideas from persons of power or nodes of authority
Contagious diffusion- rapid spread of ideas throughout the population due to popularity
Stimulus diffusion- the spread of an underlying principle even though the trait itself doesn’t spread.

What is Expansion Diffusion?

Why do most people believe the explanation of the spatial distribution of food production is independent invention?
Scale is how narrow or broad a geographer studies something.
Local scale- within neighborhoods
Regional scale- counties, provinces
National/State scale- the whole country
International/ Global scale- the whole world
Local views emphasize unique attributes.
Global views emphasize patterns and generalizations.

Types of Scale

To understand human activities, people must be able to see both the small and large scale.
At local level, conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda is occurs from families passing on racism.
At national level, conflict is happening because of migration patterns and economic problems.
To solve conflict, both local and national issues must be addressed.

Moving Between Scales

Globalization of economy allows for transnational or multinational corporations to exist.
Activities of the company operate all over the world.
This allows areas around world to specialize: manufacturing, banking, hi-tech, research, etc.
Globalization impacts culture.
Different ethnic groups becoming more alike, like in food, fashion, attitudes.
With technology, immigrants can hold onto culture.
This can lead to conflict: excluded groups become frustrated, or groups resist changes to their culture.

Impact of Globalization

Look at your mental map. At what scale was it created? Is there evidence of globalization in Menifee that shows up on your map?


A slogan “Think global, Act Local” was used to promote better treatment of the environment. What does that mean?



Create a tree map of the different types of diffusion and subcategories.


Regions come from Landscapes

What are the dominate characteristics of the Inland Empire (IE)?


Formal (also uniform or homogenous) region is where pracitically everyone in an area shares one or more common charactericts
Examples: states (CA), countries (Mexico), the wheat belt
Formal regions are used to make generalizations and establish patterns

Formal Regions

Perceptual or vernacular regions are areas that people associate with their culture
Examples: NorCal, the South, the Far East
These are not scientific regions with data, they don’t have defined boundaries, and they don’t have exact definitions.
They are important to know to understand an area’s culture.

Vernacular Regions

Functional or nodal regions are regions organized a focal point or node that dominates an area
Examples: Dodger fans, radio or tv stations
These are used mostly for economic areas or to show places of influence

Functional Regions

When it comes to tv, what city/area is our node (focal point)? Is it the same as radio?


Types of Regions

Create a tree map with the three main types of regions for human geography. Include an example/picture.

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