You are on page 1of 76

Chapter 1:

Major Geographic Concepts

Geographic Patterns
Spatial arrangement of a given phenomenon.

Political Boundaries


Ethnic Distribution




Cultural Differences

The actions that bring about
particular patterns.
Processes necessarily have a
temporal component, i.e. they occur
over time.
In human geography, processes
tend to be probabilistic rather than
May be multivariate and

Urban Growth
The growth of Lawrence:

Changes in Migration

Environmental Changes

The Aral Sea in Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan

Absolute Location

Refers to where something exists using a reference system

Latitude and Longitude

Lines of Latitude run East to West

Lines of Longitude run North to South

Latitudinal and Longitudinal Coordinates for Lawrence:

38 58' 18" N, 95 14' 17" W

Relative Location

Location in relation to other places or within a specific

spatial context
County, KS



From the Textbook (pg. 7):

"While geographers occasionally discuss absolute location, particularly if working with
global positioning systems or as part of a project in mapping, human geographers are
much more comfortable with relative location. At the heart of geography is the issue of
how some geographical phenomena relate spatially to other geographical phenomena
and what this means."

Place & Space

What the textbook says (pg. 8):
"Place has very different connotations,
depending on how it is used. A place can
be something that is quite objective,
representing a series of attributes found
at a fixed location. This kind of place is
usually named."
"...Places are considered to be points,
with zero dimensions. On the other hand,
spaces are considered to be areas.
Spaces have two dimensions and
include a number of places within them.
While overall space may itself be
boundless, individual spaces have
edges of some sort. They might not
necessarily be strictly bounded
although very often they arebut they
are usually demarcated in some way."

These definitions don't quite get to the

main point, though...

Some Better Explanations:

A location distinguished by certain attributes and
characteristics that form a particular meaning attached to this
location. Places can be universally recognized as such and be
identified by name (i.e., "Kansas," "Lawrence," "Lindley Hall,"
etc.), or simply constructed as place through personal
meaning (your room, your favorite spot on campus, etc.).

A (usually) two-dimensional area that acts as a "container" for
a given phenomenon, activity, action, pattern, or process.
Spaces often encompass large areas, but can exist at any
scale. Spaces can be clearly bounded and/or demarcated, or
their boundaries can be only vaguely defined.

Consider the difference between these two phrases:

"I need a place to work"

"I need space to work"

Spaces aren't necessarily bigger than places. Space can

exist within a place, and vice versa. For example, this
square in Kyiv, Ukraine is considered a "public space"
within Kyiv...

...Which is located within what is commonly referred to as

the "Post-Soviet Space."

Place can be established at any geographic scale, and is

the summation of all the meaning we attach to a given area
or location either as a society, or individually.

When we discuss spaces, we often define or qualify them

as certain kinds of space, or spaces designated for specific
phenomena, activities, etc.

Spaces of Commerce

Sacred Spaces

Spaces of Learning/Education

Green Spaces

Place and Space are therefore both multiscalar,

overlapping, and "nested" within one another. Often
they can both define the same given location. How we
determine place and space depends on how we want to
characterize a given area or location and its relationship
to human activity.

In geography, scale refers to the spatial extent to which we
chose to focus our presentation, discussion and/or analysis of a
given phenomenon, pattern, process, activity, or action.
When using a map, scale refers to the ratio of the distance on
the map to that which it represents in the real world.
1:100,000 1 inch on the map = 100,000 inches in the real world

Small scale:
Large area but with
little detail

Large scale:
Small area but with
lots of detail

Human Geographers tend to focus their study on a number

of useful scales that are defined by human activity, such as
political or cultural boundaries and territories:
Local Scale
State Scale
Regional Scale

National Scale

Global Scale

Which scales we choose to focus on will greatly

determine what kind of observations we make.

Per Capita Income in the USA: $41,663

Per Capita Income in

Loudoun County,

Per Capita Income in

Buffalo County,
South Dakota:

2012 Presidential Election Results


Douglas County:

Mitt Romney: 59.71%

Barack Obama: 37.99%

Mitt Romney: 36.8%

Barack Obama: 60.5%

Keep in mind that, like space and place, scales are not discrete or mutually
exclusive. They can be overlapping or interconnected. They do not need to be
formal territories either; scale is merely a tool used to focus our inquiry on a
specific geographic location or area.

Mapping Spatial Distributions

There are many methods used to map data in order to show
their inherent geographic qualities. These are usually called
Thematic Maps. They are generally used to show the
distribution, flow, or connection of one or more
characteristics or phenomena across space.

This map
really tell us

Point Pattern Maps

Each incident of a given

phenomenon is displayed as
a point within some
geographic area
This type of thematic map
can be used to find patterns
more specifically, to show
whether a distribution is
dispersed or clustered

Physician John Snow created a point pattern map in 1854 to

visualize the distribution of cholera cases during an outbreak
in London, and used it to determine the source of the outbreak
and prevent further illness.

Bike Crashes in San Francisco

Point pattern maps can also

be used to show patterns of
space similarity in order to
view trends. Here we see
that textile towns tended to
be located along rivers or on
the coast, which is explained
by the fact that access to
water was required for
automated textile

Point pattern maps can

also be used to show
patterns of spatial
interaction or spatial
connectivity. This map
of Afghanistan and
Pakistan reveals the
relationships of crossborder terrorist
networks by plotting
individual incidents of
and information about
terrorism across the

Choropleth Maps
Show the quantity or type of phenomena by territory or region
usually by coloring each with a different color or pattern to
represent different values in order to reveal broader spatial
Countries' GDP per capita

Changes in Russia's population

Choropleth maps can reveal very different things depending on

what scale you use.

Diabetes rates by state, 2007

Diabetes rates by county, 2007

Isoline Maps

Show areas with similar characteristics connected by lines and

bands. Usually used to display physical characteristics such as
topography (changes in elevation), they can also be used to
display human geographical data.
Crime in Manhattan

Reduction of Travel time from New York to the rest of the US

Flow Maps
Show the direction and volume of movement of people, goods,
money, etc. between different locations

The volume of movement is typically shown by the width

of the arrows in a flow map.

In simple terms, it is an expression of the space between
different objects and the time it takes to travel between them,
but there are different ways of conceiving of distance:
Absolute or Euclidean Distance: The actual geometric length
of a straight line drawn between two objects ("as the crow
Travel Distance: The length of the route that must actually be
traveled between two objects. Depends upon physical
geography, transportation technology, and infrastructure. The
amount of time needed to travel between two objects is known
as the friction of distance.
Cognitive Distance: Distance as it is perceived by subjective
observers. It is influenced by a person's own knowledge,
experience, and perspective.

Distance Decay

As the distance between two objects increases, the degree of

interaction between them decreases. This concept can be
applied to many things, but will typically follow the same
geometric curve:

Regions are a way of subdividing space into categorizable
geographic units. Regions characterize broad spaces that
share some common characteristic or attribute, or which are
connected by a certain process, theme, or perception. As with
space, place, and scale, they may be overlapping and

Formal Regions
Regions that consist of spaces and places that share one or
more commonly recognized and often institutionalized attribute,
whether it is defined historically, politically, agriculturally,
linguistically, culturally, etc. These regions may often have some
sort of functional meaning, such as political cohesion or internal

This map shows the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting

Countries (OPEC), which may be considered a formal region as these countries
operate together for their own mutual benefit.

"Corn Belt"


"Cotton Belt"

Linguistic Regions of the World

Functional Regions
Regions constructed out of places that interact, or are
connected through processes and human activity.
This diagram shows
the space and all the
places within which
an individually might
perform their normal
tasks and activities
on a regular basis,
and how they are
connected to each
other to form a
functional region of
those activities.

Functional region around Lynchburg, VA.

Vernacular Regions
Informal regions that people construct in their own mind or that
societies construct within their common imagination. Because
they are generally not formalized, their boundaries can be very
ambiguous and contentious.
The South is a wellrecognized vernacular region
in the US, as there are certain
historical and cultural qualities
that distinguish it from the rest
of the country. However, there
is no consensus on which
states truly belong in the
South. Depending on whose
perspective you take, there
are many states which may or
may not be included.

Where is the Middle East, exactly?

Where is Siberia, exactly?


Loosely related to region, though referring specifically to the assemblage of

sensed elements (mainly visual) that come together in a given place or space
and how they reflect and represent both the natural environment and human
activity, and the interaction between them. We can speak about the landscape
of any given place, space, region, and they can exist at any scale. We can talk
about a landscape whether or not we can view it all at once.

Ordinary / Vernacular Landscapes

Those that we encounter on a regular basis and reflect certain aspects of our
daily experiences. These landscapes help us understand the culture and ways
of life of the people who inhabit them.

Iconic Landscapes

Those that contain iconic or symbolic representations associated with a

particular place or type of place. They are closely linked to identity, and may
reveal efforts to foster nationalism, project power, elicit certain beliefs or
sensibilities, and persuade peoples' opinions.

Interior Landscapes

Those that occur within buildings, homes, or other structures. They too can
reveal important things about a society or culture.