The Five themes of geography

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THE FIVE THEMES OF GEOGRAPHY
WHAT IS GEOGRAPHY?
Geography comes from a Greek word that
means “to describe the earth”
 Geography – study of the distribution and
interaction of physical and human features on
earth
 In plain English, geography is the study of the
earth and how people live in it.
 There are 5 main themes of geography.
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THEME #1: LOCATION
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There are 2 types of location:
1) Absolute location – the exact place where something
is.
2) Relative location – describes a place in relation to
other places around it.
EXAMPLE: The absolute location of Owensboro, KY is
37.75 degrees North, 87.11 degrees west)
The relative location of Owensboro is, south of the Ohio
River, 40 miles from Evansville, close to Louisville, etc.
THINK ABOUT IT: What is the difference between
absolute and relative location?
THEME 2: PLACE
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Place includes the physical
features (climate, landforms,
vegetation), and cultural
landscape (types of people,
population, etc.)
Place can change over time
because people may change
the physical environment or
the culture of an area.
THINK ABOUT IT: How might
people change places?
Example: Map of Owensboro,
Kentucky by MapQuest
THEME #3: REGION
A region is an area of the earth that is defined by
shared characteristics.
 There are 3 types of regions
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1) Formal region – areas defined by similar styles and
that are close (continents, countries)
 2) Functional region – organized around a set of
interactions and connections around a center, usually
called a hub (the “Tri-State area”)
 3) Perceptual region – a region which people perceive
the characteristics of a region in the same way (the
South, the ghetto)
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THEME #4: HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTION
How people use the
environment and interact
with it.
 People can either learn
to live with their
environment (wearing a
coat if you live in Alaska)
or they can change the
environment (building a
house with a heater).
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THEME #5: MOVEMENT
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Geographers look at three types of
distance: linear, time, and
psychological
Linear distance means how far
ideas, people, or products travel.
Time distance is how long it takes an
idea, person, or product to travel.
Psychological distance describes the
way people view distance.
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Example: When you become more
familiar with a place, you think that it
is closer than it actually is.

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