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Five Themes of Geography

Transcript: Five Themes of Geography

What is Geography?
Geography is an overwhelmingly vast field of study
covering everything from the global landscape to the air we
breathe to how people interact with the world around
them. While a career in geography usually examines only a
small subset of the overall topic, it is important that people
understand some of the basic principles that are found
throughout the field.
The Five Themes of Geography
In 1984, the National Council for Geographic Education
along with the Association of American Geographers
developed the five themes of geography as a way to teach
the ideas behind geography to grade school students. The
subject was broken down into location, place, humanenvironment interaction, movement, and region.

Location discusses the position of objects, and

encompasses both relative and absolute location. Relative
location describes one objects location in relation to
another object such as California is West of
Nevada. Absolute location gives precise coordinates,
determined by lines of latitude and longitude, such as the
Statue of Liberty is at 69 W and 47 N

Place is used to describe the physical and human

characteristics of a location. The physical characteristics of
a location include any natural formations, such as
mountains and lakes, as well as the flora and fauna
present. Human characteristics pertain to man made
structures as well as population and cultural descriptions of
the area.
Human-Environment Interaction studies the ways humans
impact the environment around them. From altering the
landscape with things such as bridges or shopping centers
to the effect of pollution, there are three concepts that are
shaping this relationship:
Humans depend on the environment
Humans modify the environment
Humans adapt to the environment
Movement pertains to the travel of people, good, and
ideas throughout a particular location or throughout the
world. It can be the study of migration as well as the
spread of fads.

Region is a way of dividing the world into distinct areas

through unifying characteristics. These areas can be
determined by natural characteristics or political lines
and fall into one of the following categories; formal,
functional, or vernacular.
Formal regions are designated by official boundaries
like states and countries
Functional regions are determined by their connections
like the delivery area of a pizza place
Vernacular regions are perceived regions with no formal
boundaries like the south

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