THE FIVE THEMES OF GEOGRAPHY

 

LOCATION - Where is it?

Position on the Earth's Surface -- Absolute and relative location are two ways of describing the positions of people and places on the earths surface.

PLACE - What is it like there?

Physical and Human Characteristics:

All places on the earth have distinctive tangible and intangible characteristics that give them meaning and character and distinguish them from other places.  Geographers generally describe places by their physical or human characteristics.

MOVEMENT - How are people and places connected?

Humans Interacting on the Earth -- Human beings occupy places unevenly across the face of the earth. Some live on farms or in the country; others live in towns villages or cities. Yet these people interact with each other: that is, they travel from one place to another, they communicate with each other or they rely upon products information, and ideas that come from beyond their immediate environment. The most visible evidence of global interdependence and the interaction of places are the transportation and communication lines that link every part of the world. These demonstrate that most people interact with other places almost every day of their lives. This may involve nothing more than a Georgian eating apples grown in the state of Washington and shipped to Atlanta by rail or truck.  On a larger scale, international trade demonstrates that no country is self-sefficient.

Human/Environment Interaction -- How do people interact with the environment?

Humans and Environments -- All places on the earth have advantages and disadvantages for human settlement. High population densities have developed on flood plains, for example, where people could take advantage of fertile soils, water resources, and opportunities for river transportation. By comparison,  population densities are usually low in deserts. Yet flood plains are periodically subjected to severe damage, and some desert areas, such as Israel, have been modified to support large population concentrations.

REGIONS -- What makes it like other areas?

How they Form and Change

The basic unit of geographic study is the region, an area that displays unity in terms of selected criteria.  We are all familiar with regions showing the extent of political power such as nations, states, lander, countries, provinces, or cities, yet there are almost countless ways to define meaningful regions depending on the problems being considered. Some regions are defined by one characteristic such as a governmental unit, a language group, or a land form type, and others by the interplay of many complex features. For example, Indiana as a state is a governmental region, Latin American as an area where Spanish and Portuguese are major languages can be a linguistic region, and the Rocky Mountains as a mountain range is a land form region. A geographer may delineate a neighborhood in Minneapolis by correlating the income and educational levels of residents with the assessed valuation or property and tax rate, or distinguish others by prominent boundaries such as a freeway, park, or business district.  On another scale we may identify the complexity of ethnic, religious, linguistic, and environmental features that delineate the Arab World from the Middle East or North Africa.

Source: Guidelines for Geographic Education, Elementary and Secondary Schools, The Joint

Committee on Geographic Education of the National Council for Geographic Education and the

Association of American Geographers, Washington, D.C., 1984, pp.3-8.