The 5 Themes of Geography

Definition- The five governing themes of geography are Movement, Region, Human Environment Interactions, Location, and Place.
Movement- The movement of individuals across any given scale
Region- An area distinguished by a unique combination of trends or features.
Human Environment Interaction- The effects humans have on the environment
Location- The position of anything on Earth’s surface.
Place- A specific point on Earth distinguished by a particular character.
Explanation- The 5 Themes of Geography are basically the governing principles of geographical studies. They play a major role in the explanation of various concepts and can be applied in nearly any geographic situation.
Movement- This geographic theme encompasses migration and diffusion, such as migration of cultures or diffusion of certain ideas (religion).
Region- A way that humans have divided up the world, such as into formal regions like California (any other state or country would also suffice)
Human Environment Interaction- Humans clearing land to create farmland or mountains preventing humans from establishing settlement.
Location- Either an absolute location or relative location would suffice as an example of this geographic theme.
Place- The physical characteristics of a location that sets it apart from other locations is defined as its characteristics of place.


Environmental Determinism and Possibilism

Environmental Determinism- How the physical environment causes social development.
Possibilism- How humans adjust to the challenges posed by the physical environment.

Environmental Determinism- This type of human environment interaction is characterized by the various limitations posed by the physical environment such as ways in which human development is altered or hindered by the environment.
Possibilism- This type of human environment interaction is basically the way in which humans overcome the environment.

Environmental Determinism- An example of Environmental Determinism would be any climactic or geographic hindrance to humans, such as deserts or mountains.
Possibilism- Possibilism can be observed in any situation where humans conquer their environment, such as through building roads through arid land or establishing radical settlements in inhospitable conditions.

Geographic Regions and 3 Types of Regions

Formal Region- (or uniform or homogenous region) An area in which everyone shares in one or more distinctive characteristics.
Functional Region- (or nodal region) An area organized around a node or focal point. Vernacular Region- (or perpetual region) An area that people believe exists as part of their identity.

Formal Region- A formal region is defined as any geographic location whose boundaries are clear and whose territory is set. There is no disagreement over the relative area a formal region may occupy.
Functional Region- A functional region is a region whose territory is organized around something central, such as a newspaper. The distribution of a given local newspaper is limited to a certain area, which is its functional region.
Vernacular Region- A vernacular region is nonexistent in a literal sense, and the territory it occupies is not clearly defined. There is disagreement on the location of a given vernacular region, and stance is dependent solely upon personal view.

Formal Region- Any country would serve as an adequate example of a formal region, such as the United Sates, Russia, or China.
Functional Region- The distribution of a local newspaper would suffice as functional region as well as the fan base of a sports team.
Vernacular Region- An example of a vernacular region in the United Sates in particular would be the South. Any given person may have different beliefs of where the South is located and what regions it encompasses.

Example of Functional Regions in Australia

Spatial Association and Distribution

Spatial Association- The concept that the distribution of one phenomenon is scientifically related to the location of other phenomena.
Distribution- The arrangement of phenomenon across Earth’s surface.
Density- The frequency something occurs in space (how many there are)
Concentration- The extent a feature is spread over space.
Pattern- Geometric arrangement of an object.

Spatial Association- The location of observable phenomena is related to the location of others. Most phenomena are situated where they are because of phenomena that already exist. For instance, a business may be located in closer proximity to a population, in other words its consumers.
Distribution- This aspect of human geography basically displays where a given phenomena is located
Density- This aspect of distribution portrays the number of a given phenomena there are in a given area.
Concentration- This is how a given feature is dispersed across space, whether they be dispersed or clustered.
Pattern- This aspect of distribution, just as it sounds displays the pattern in which a given feature is organized.

Spatial Association- Restaurants locate nearer to residential areas.
Distribution- A series of libraries are located throughout a given city I a pattern of circular service areas, with buildings located far apart.

Köppen Climate System

Definition- The Köppen Climate System is the most widely used climate classification systems. The Köppen System divides the Earth into 6 climate zones designated by letters (A- Humid Low Latitude, B- Dry, C- Warm Mid-Latitude, D- Cold Mid-Latitude, E- Polar, and H- Undifferentiated Highlands).
Explanation- In order to easily classify various regions of the world, the Köppen System dictates each region into a category. These categories range from the extremes (dry and polar), to moderate climates in between, to varied high and humid climates.


  1. (Humid Low Latitude)- Regions classified in this climate zone include parts of Malaysia, Brazil, and Singapore.
  2. (Dry)- This climate zone includes parts of Chile, Spain, and Mexico.
  3. (Warm Mid-Latitudes)- Areas such as part of Greece, South Africa, and Portugal are classified into this area.
  4. (Cold Mid-Latitude)- Parts of Hungary, Romania, and Canada can be classified into this climate zone.
  5. (Polar)- Parts of Russia, Greenland, and Svalbard can be classified as polar climates. H. (Undifferentiated Highlands) - This climate zone includes areas such as the Alps, Himalayas, and Andes.
  6. (Undifferentiated Highlands) - This climate zone includes areas such as the Alps, Himalayas, and Andes.

Map Projections
Definition- A map projection is a representation of the earth as presented on a flat surface.
Explanation- There are many different methods of projecting the earth, a spherical shape, as a flat image. Each method has its own downturns and advantages such as the accuracy of the ultimate image and the distortion it creates. A given projection is defined by the view of the cartographer and the maps produced ultimately affects the world view of all those who see it.
Examples- Examples of various map projections include the Mercator, Goode, Robinson, Mollweide, and Azimuthal Equidistant projections. The Mercator is extremely distorted but works well with navigation. The Peter acts as a correction to the distortion but is also difficult to use for navigation. The Goode is difficult for navigation and the Robinson is described as decent. On the other hand the Mollweide projection gives up accuracy in situation and clarity in order to represent landmasses accurately while the Azimuthal Equidistant approach is excellent for navigation but also highly distorted.
rykyukr.jpgA Goode Map Projection

Definition- Diffusion is the spread of cultural aspects from a central point known as a hearth. The cultural aspects that can be spread include language, ideas, and religion.
Explanation- The diffusion of a given idea can be attributed to various factors which are encompassed by the term diffusion. Relocation diffusion is characterized by physical spread of an idea through the movement of people. Expansion Diffusion includes several types of diffusion. Hierarchal diffusion is spread through a given class, stimulus diffusion is the spread of an idea after reestablishing it after initial failure, and contagious diffusion is the rampant spread of a given idea.
Examples- Examples of diffusion can be seen in the spread of many different cultural aspects. One such example is the spread of Christianity through relocation diffusion, hierarchal diffusion, and contagious diffusion. An example of stimulus diffusion would be the initial failure of Mac and reestablishment to spread exponentially.

Carl Sauer’s Cultural Landscape Theory

Definition- Carl Sauer’s Landscape Theory states that the cultural landscape is shaped by humans and various cultural aspects of their culture.
Explanation- This theory basically states that the sum effects the human population has on the environment is the cultural landscape. This includes any changes the human race makes to the environment such as anything they overcome (possibilism).
Examples- Humans have altered the physical environment in many ways including the architecture humans build, the toponyms placed on certain locations, burial practices, and sacred sites that are established.