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AP Human Geography Chapter 1

How do geographers describe where things are?

- Geography is the study of where things are found on the earth.
- Thinking geographically is one of the oldest human activities.

- A map is a 2d or flat scale model of the real world.
- Maps serve two purposes:
- As a reference tool, for getting from one point to another.
- As a communications tool, to understand the distribution of
human activity.

Early Mapmaking
- Earliest maps were reference tools.
- First recorded map was made by Eratosthenes in 194 BC. Ptolemy
produced maps based on information from merchants and soldiers.

- Mapmaking didn't change much for 1000 years, but became more
fanciful. Outside Europe, Pei Xiu created a map of China and Muhammad al-Idrisi prepared a world map.
- Mapmaking was revived during the age of exploration. Martin Waldseemller made first map with "America" on it. Ortelius created first
- By 17th Century, maps accurately displayed the continents.
- Contemporary Mapping was still a reference tool, but now primarily a
tool for communication.

Mapping a Disaster: Hurricane Katrina

- Aftermath of Katrina provides a useful introduction to geographical
perspectives on contemporary global issues of sustainability and inequality.
- New Orleans was vulnerable because it is below sea level.
- Inequality of destruction.
- Inequality of reconstruction.

Map Scale
- Smaller scale maps show more detail
- Larger scale maps show more more area
- Map scale is represented in three ways
- Ratio/fraction ex. 1:24,000 or 1/24,000

- Written scale ex. 1 inch equals 1 mile

- Graphic scale ex. Miles: 123
- Scale will be larger for map with larger area shown

- Globes are accurate but inconvenient
- Maps are convenient but less accurate because of distortion
- Scientific method of transferring locations on Earths surface to a flat
map is projection
- 4 types of distortion:
- Shape of area can be distorted
- Distance between two points can be distorted
- Relative size of different areas can be distorted
- Direction from one place to another can be distorted
- Equal area projections
- Relative sizes arent distorted
- Shape distortion is minimized
- Areas close to the poles become more distorted
- To preserve size and shape of landmasses, this forces other
- Eastern and Western hemispheres are separated, aka.

- Meridians do not converge or form right angles with

- Robinson projections allots more space to the oceans
- Mercator projection has several advantages:
- Shape is distorted very little
- Direction is consistent
- Rectangular
- Disadvantage: extremely distorted toward

Geographic Grid
- Imaginary arcs drawn in a grid on Earths surface
- Meridians and parallels
- Meridians are longitude and parallels are latitude
- Prime meridian passes through Greenwich, England, at 0
- North and south poles are at 90 latitude
- Parallels and meridians together are used to determine location
- Degrees are divided into minutes
- Minutes are divided into seconds
- 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per degree
- GPS divides degrees into decimals
- Latitudes are scientifically derived
- Longitude is human invention

- Prime meridian is in England because it was the most powerful country in the world at the time that longitude was first measured accurately
- John Harrison measured longitude by using a clock

Telling Time
- Longitude helps calculate time
- Earth is divided into 360 of longitude
- 180 east and 180 west
- 24 time zones
- Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
- Time at prime meridian
- Master reference time
- Each 15 of longitude is assigned a time zone
- When crossing International Date Line:
- Set clock back 24 hours if going east
- Set clock forward 24 hours if going west
- Several islands in Pacific moved International Date Line

Contemporary Tools
- Geographers have turned to geographic information science
- GIScience

- Develops and analyses data about Earth

- Is used to create more accurate and complex maps
- Made possible by satellites in orbit

Collecting Data: Remote Sensing

- Remote sensing - acquisition of data about Earths surface from a
satellite or other long-distance method
- Satellite sensor records image of tiny area called a picture element or
- Scanners detect radiation reflected from that area
- Maps are created from scanner data
- Smallest feature that can be detected is scanners resolution

Pinpointing Locations: GPS

- GPS - the system that accurately determines the precise location of
something on Earth
- GPS in the United States has 3 elements:
- Satellites placed in predetermined orbits by US military
- Tracking stations to monitor and control satellites
- Receiver that can locate at least 4 satellites, figure out distance
to each, and use this information to pinpoint location

Layering Data: GIS

- Geographic information System - computer system that captures,
stores, queries, analyses, and plays geographical data
- Creates better-looking and more accurate maps
- Each type of data is stored in a layer
- GIS combines layers in a map
- Layers can be compared to show relationships among data

Mixing Data: Mashups

- You can create a GIS because of public APIs, such as the Google Maps
- Mashup - the practice of overlaying data from one source on top of
one of the mapping services

Why is Each Point on Earth Unique?

- Place - specific point on Earth distinguished by a particular characteristic

Place: A Unique Location

- Humans have a strong sense of place

- Geographers think about where places are located and the combination of features that make each place distinct.
- Location - position that something occupies on Earths surface

Place Names
- Toponym - the name given to a place on Earth
- Place may be named for a person or origin of its settlers

- Site - physical characteristics of a place
- Humans can modify site

- Situation - location of a place relative to other places
- Valuable way to indicate location
- Finding an unfamiliar place
- Understanding its importance
- Compares location with a familiar place
- We give directions by situation
- Uses landmarks
- Many locations are important because they give access to other

Region: A Unique Area

- Humans sense of place may apple to a larger area of Earth rather
than a specific point
- Region - area of Earth defined by one or more distinctive characteristics
- A place can be in more than one region
- Region is often used to describe:
- Several neighboring countries that share important features
- Many localities within a country, such as those in southern California
- Derives its unified character through the cultural landscape - a combination of cultural features such as language and religion, economic
features such as agriculture and industry, and physical features such as
climate and vegetation
- Gains uniqueness from possessing a combination of human and environmental characteristics
- 3 types:
- Formal
- Functional
- Vernacular

Formal Region
- Also called a uniform region

- Area within which everyone has something in common

Functional Region
- Also called a nodal region
- Area organized around a node or focal point
- Distinguishing characteristic diminishes in importance outward from
the node

Tied to central point by transportation, communication systems, or

economic or functional associations

- Often used to display information about economic areas

Vernacular Region
- Also called a perceptual region
- Area people believe exists as part of their cultural identity
- Emerge from peoples sense of place
- Mental map region

Regions of Culture
- Culture - body of customary beliefs, material traits, and social forms
that together constitute the distinct tradition of a group of people
- Root word: cultus (Latin) to care for


Culture: What People Care About

- Geographers study why the customary ideas, beliefs, and values of a
people produce a distinctive culture in a particular place.
- Language is a big part of culture
- Religion is an important cultural value because it is principal system of
attitudes, beliefs, and practices
Culture: What People Take Care Of
- Production of material wealth
- Divide into regions of developed and developing countries
- Possession of material wealth is higher in developed countries

Spatial Association
- Region can be constructed for widely varying area size
- Different conclusions may be reached about the regions characteristics depending on the size

Why Are Different Places Similar?

- Human area is rarely confined to one area
- Similarities among places and regions arent coincidental


Scale: From Local to Global

- Scale - relationship between the portion of Earth being studied and
Earth as a whole
- Many levels of scale
- More concerned with global-scale patterns and processes
- Globalization - force or process that involves the entire world and results in making something worldwide in scope
- Scale of the world is shrinking

Globalization of Economy
- Recession in 2008 was the first global recession
- Global financial crisis began in US and EU with bursting of
housing bubble
- Housing bubble - rapid increase in the value of houses followed by a sharp decline in their value
- Low interest rates caused house prices to rise
- Poorer people bought houses because they could get
- Wealthy people bought more houses for the financial
advantage later on
- The government encouraged low-income families to
buy housing even though they might not be able to


pay off loans; less government oversight made this

- Decline in demand for housing leads to lower prices
- Many defaulted on their loans
- Leads to crisis
- Transitional corporation - conducts research, operates factories, sells
products in many countries
- Globalization has led to more specialization at local level
- Spatial diversion - when regions workers specialize in certain tasks

Globalization of Culture
- Uniform cultural preferences make uniform global landscapes of
material artifacts and cultural values
- Cause of uniformity is globalization of cultural beliefs
- Despite globalization, cultural differences flourish

Space: Distribution of Features

- Space - physical gap or interval between two objects
- Spatial thinking is the most fundamental skill geographers have
- Geographers explain how features are arranged
- Distribution - arrangement of a feature in space


Distribution Properties: Density

- Density - frequency with which something occurs in space
- High population density is unrelated to poverty

Distribution Properties: Concentration

- Concentration - extent of a features spread over space
- Use concentration to describe changes in distribution

Distribution Properties: Pattern

- Pattern - geometric arrangement of objects in space
- Some features in geometric pattern, while others irregular

Cultural Identity In Space

- Patterns may vary according to gender, ethnicity, and sexuality
- Cultural traits are important in explaining why people move in different ways
Distribution Across Space
- Space is very important
- Space may be designed for one cultural group


- Behavioral geography - branch of human geography that emphasizes

the importance of understanding the psychological basis for individual human actions
- Humanistic geography - branch of human geography that emphasizes
the different ways that individuals perceive their surrounding environment
Movement Across Space
- Tradition influences how people move across space
- Typical spatial patterns of married couple:
- Movement by gender: Husband
- Drives to work every morning
- Drives home in the afternoon
- Movement by gender: Wife
- Drives kids to school every morning
- Walks the dog
- Drives to the supermarket
- Visits mother
- Picks up kids from school
- Drives kids to baseball practice or ballet
- Movement by ethnicity


Cultural Identity In Contemporary Geography Thought

- Poststructural geography - emphasizes the need to understand multiple perspectives regarding space
- Cultural groups compete to organize space
- Critical geographers focus on underprivileged
- Spatial segregation still exists

Connections Between Places

- Connection - relationships among people and objects across the barrier of space
- Rapid connections have reduced the figurative distance between

Relocation Diffusion
- Hearth - place from which an innovation originates
- Diffusion - process by which a characteristic spreads across space
from one place to another over time
- Hearth emerges by a cultural group doing something new and sustaining it
- Innovations may originate independently in more than one hearth
- For a person, object, or idea to interact with another region, diffusion
must occur


- 2 types of diffusion - relocation and expansion

- Relocation diffusion - spread of an area through physical movement of
people from one place to another
- People migrate for a variety of reasons
- Most common languages spread through relocation diffusion

Expansion Diffusion
- Expansion diffusion - spread of a feature from one place to another in
an additive processes
- Expansion may result from one of 3 processes
- Hierarchical diffusion - spread of an idea from persons or
nodes of authority of power to other persons or places
- Contagious diffusion - rapid, widespread diffusion of a characteristic throughout the population
- Stimulus diffusion - spread of an underlying principle even
though a characteristic itself apparently fails to diffuse

Spatial Interaction
- In the past, most connections required traveling
- Distance decay - how contact diminishes with distance
- Space-time compression - reduction in the time it takes for something
to reach another place
- Network - chain of communication that connects places


- Ideas from hearths can diffuse through the Internet

Unequal Access
- Electronics have been essential to removing barriers of interaction
- Barriers of interaction are more likely from lack of access to electronics or the Internet
- Africa, Asia, and Latin America have less access to technology
- US has become more wealthy since 1997

Why Are Some Human Actions Not Sustainable?

- Geography is unique because it encounters both social science and
natural science
- Resource - substance in the environment that is useful to people, economically and technologically feasible to access, and socially acceptable to use

Sustainability and Resources

- Renewable resource - produced in nature more rapidly than it is consumed by humans
- Nonrenewable resource - produced in nature more slowly than it is
consumed by humans


- Two major misuses of resources:

- Humans deplete nonrenewable resources
- Humans destroy otherwise renewable resources through pollution
- Sustainability - use of Earths renewable and nonrenewable resources
in ways that ensure resource availability in the future
- Recycle

Three Pillars of Sustainability

- According to the US, sustainability is divided into three parts
- Sustainability is a combination of natural and human elements
The Environmental Pillar
- Conservation - sustainable use and management of Earths natural resources to meet human needs such as food, medicine, and recreation
- Natural resources are conserved if they are consumed slower than
they are created
- Preservation - maintenance of resources in their present condition,
with as little human impact as possible
The Economy Pillar
- Natural resources are worth money when traded in a market
- Price is based on supply and demand


- Price depends on societys ability to obtain and adapt to it

- Potential resources - things that might become resources in the near
The Society Pillar
- Humans make use of resources to meet their needs
- Consumer choices reflect sustainability when consumers value it

Sustainabilitys Critics
- Some people believe it is too late to discuss sustainability
- Some believe we are too late and that Earth is doomed
- Some believe that sustainability is not an issue because the definition
of resources varies over time

Earths Physical Systems

- Natural resources are classified under 4 systems
- Biotic system - composed of living organisms
- Abiotic system - composed of nonliving or inorganic matter
- 3 of Earths 4 systems are abiotic
- Atmosphere - a thin layer of gases surrounding Earth
- Hydrosphere - all of the water on and near Earths surface
- Lithosphere - Earths crust and a potion of upper mantle directly below the crust


- Biosphere - all living organisms on Earth, including plants and animals, as well as microorganisms
- 300 miles up
- Air contains:
- 78% nitrogen
- 21% oxygen
- 0.9% argon
- 0.036% carbon dioxide
- 0.064 other gases
- Pressure is created by gases in the atmosphere and gravity
- Variations in pressure are responsible for weather
- Climate - long-term average weather condition at a particular location
- Climates classified by the modified Kppen system
- 5 climate regions
- A: Tropical Climates
- B: Dry Climates
- C: Warm Mid-Latitude Climates
- D: Cold Mid-Latitude Climates
- E: Polar Climates
- 97% of Earths water is salt


- Water moderates temperatures around Earth

- Climate influences human activities, especially food production
- Monsoon - rainy season
- Earth is composed of concentric spheres
- Surface features are influenced by plates in Earths crust
- People prefer to live in flat land near water and resources

Sustainability and Human-Environment Relationships

- Modern technology has altered the historic relationship between people and the environment
- People can modify the environment greatly

Interactions in the Biosphere

- Biosphere includes portions of other 3 systems because life cannot
function without them
- Most living organisms interact within the top 10 feet of the lithosphere, top 650 feet of the hydrosphere, and lowest 100 feet of the atmosphere
- Lithosphere is where most plants and animals live and where
they obtain food and shelter


- Hydrosphere provides water to drink and physical support for

aquatic life
- Atmosphere provides air for animals to create and protects
them from the Suns rays
- Ecosystem - group of living organisms and the abiotic spheres with
which they interact
- Ecology - scientific study of ecosystems
- Humans contribute to the destruction of soil
- 2 main problems:
- Erosion
- Depletion of nutrients

Cultural Geology: Integrating Culture and Environment

- Cultural ecology - geographic study of human environment relationships
Environmental Determinism
- Environmental determinism - belief that physical environment causes
social development
- Possibilism - belief that physical environment may limit some human
actions, but people have the ability to adjust to their environment


- Peoples wealth can influence their attitude toward modifying the environment
Possibilism and Sustainability
- Use cultural ecology to determine whether particular patterns and
processes are sustainable
- Physical environment is not always the most significant factor in human decisions

Modifying the Environment

- Netherlands and Everglades have been modified the most by humans
The Netherlands: Sustainable Ecosystem
- Dutch have modified their environment with 2 constructions
- Polder - piece of land that is created by draining water from an area
- 2600 square miles of polders
- Dike - a long wall of embankment built to prevent flooding from the
- Global warming could threaten the Netherlands by raising sea levels
South Florida: Unsustainable Ecosystem
- Sensitive environmental areas in Florida include
- Barrier islands


- Wetlands between Lake Okeechobee and Everglades

- These wetlands have been modified more poorly
- US Army built dikes and canals around the Everglades
- Kept Florida from flooding
- Polluted water flowed into Lake Okeechobee
- Polluted water flowed south into the Everglades
- Plans were developed to unpollute the Everglades but few were ever
- Half of the Everglades has been lost