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the degree of ease with which it is possible to reach a certain location from other locations. Accessibility varies from place to place and can be measured.

physical geography

one of the two major divisions of systematic geography; the spatial analysis of the structure, processes, and location of the Earth’s natural phenomena such as climate, soil, plants, animals, and topography.


the degree of direct linage between one particular location and other locations in a transport network.

sequent occupance

the notion that successive societies leave their cultural imprints on a place, each contributing to the cumulative cultural landscape

spatial distribution

physical location of geographic phenomena across space

five themes (of geography)

they are location, human-environment, region, place, and movement

location theory

a logical attempt to explain the locational pattern of an economic activity and the manner in which its producing areas are interrelated. The agricultural location theory contained in the von Thunen model is a leading example.

medical geography

the study of health and disease within a geographic context and from a geographical perspective. Among other things, medical geography looks at sources, diffusions routes, and distribution of diseases.

spatial perspective

observing variations in geographic phenomena across space

human geography

one of the major divisions of geography; the spatial analysis of human population, its cultures, activities, and landscapes


regional outbreak of a disease

cultural landscape

the visible imprint of human activity and culture on the landscape. The layers of buildings, forms, and artifacts sequentially imprinted on the landscape by the activities of various human occupants.


the overall appearance of an area. Most landscapes are comprised of a combination on natural and human-induced influences.

perception of place

belief or "understanding" about a place developed through books, movies, stories or pictures

sense of place

state of mind derived through the infusion of a place with meaning and emotion by remembering important events that occurred in that place or by labeling a place with a certain character.


the design of a spatial distribution (e.g. scattered or concentrated)


pertaining to space on the Earth’s surface; sometimes used as a synonym for geographic


the study of geographic phenomena by visiting places and observing how people interact with and thereby change those places


the fourth theme of geography; uniqueness of a location


an outbreak of a disease that spreads worldwide. (see also – endemic)


the expansion of economic, political, and cultural processes to the point that they become global in scale and impact. The processes of globalization transcend state boundaries and have outcomes that vary across places and scales.


the first theme of geography as defined by the Geography Educational National Implementation Project; the geographical situation of people and things.


measurement of the physical space between two places

spatial interaction

see complementarity (a condition that exists when two regions, through an exchange of raw materials and/or finished products, can specifically satisfy each others demands) and intervening opportunity (the presence of a nearer opportunity that greatly diminishes the attractiveness of sites farther away)


the second theme of geography; reciprocal relationship between humans and environment.


the third theme of geography; an area on the Earth’s surface marked by a degree of formal, functional, or perceptual homogeneity of some phenomenon


the fifth theme of geography; the mobility of people, goods, and ideas across the surface of the planet.

reference maps

Maps that show the absolute location of places and geographic features determined by a frame of reference, typically latitude and longitude

absolute locations

The position or place of a certain item on the surface of the Earth as expressed in degrees, minutes, and seconds of latitude, 0° to 90° north or south of the equator, and longitude, 0° to 180° east or west of the Prime Meridian passing through Greenwich, England (a suburb of London)


Geographic viewpoint—a response to determinism—that holds that human decision making, not the environment, is the crucial factor in cultural development. Nonetheless, possibilists view the environment as providing a set of broad constraints that limits the possibilities of human choice

relocation diffusion

Sequential diffusion process in which the items being diffused are transmitted by their carrier agents as they evacuate the old areas and relocate to new ones. The most common form of relocation diffusion involves the spreading of innovations by a migrating population

cultural hearth

Heartland, source area, innovation center; place of origin of a major culture

generalized map

"When mapping data, whether human or physical geographers, cartographers, the geographers who make maps, generalize the information the present on maps." (de Blij, Murphey, Fouberg, ph 16)

cultural barriers

Prevailing cultural attitude rendering certain innovations, ideas or practices unacceptable or unadoptable in that particular culture


Involvement of players at other scales to generate support for a position or an initiative (e.g., use of the Internet to generate interest on a national or global scale for a local position or initiative)

contagious diffusion

The distance-controlled spreading of an idea, innovation, or some other item through a local population by contact from person to person—analogous to the communication of a contagious illness

hierarchical diffusion

A form of diffusion in which an idea or innovation spreads by passing first among the most connected places or peoples. An urban hierarchy is usually involved, encouraging the leapfrogging of innovations over wide areas, with geographic distance a less important influence

global positioning systems (GPS)

Satellite-based system for determining the absolute location of places or geographic features

stimulus diffusion

A form of diffusion in which a cultural adaptation is created as a result of the introduction of a cultural trait from another place

formal region

A type of region marked by a certain degree of homogeneity in one or more phenomena; also called uniform region or homogeneous region

relative location

The regional position or situation of a place relative to the position of other places. Distance, accessibility, and connectivity affect relative location

activity spaces

the space within which daily activity occurs


The art and science of making maps, including data compilation, layout, and design. Also concerned with the interpretation of mapped patterns


The sum total of the knowledge, attitudes, and habitual behavior patterns shared and transmitted by the members of a society. This is anthropologist Ralph Linton’s definition; hundreds of others exist

environmental determinism

The view that the natural environment has a controlling influence over various aspects of human life, including cultural development. Also referred to as environmentalism

culture diffusion

The expansion and adoption of a cultural element, from its place of origin to a wider area

thematic maps

Maps that tell stories, typically showing the degree of some attribute or the movement of a geographic phenomenon

independent invention

The term for a trait with many cultural hearths that developed independent of each other

geographic information systems (GIS)

collection of computer hardware and software permitting spatial data to be collected, recorded, stored, retrieved, used, and displayed.

time-distance decay

The declining degree of acceptance of an idea or innovation with increasing time and distance from its point of origin or source

culture complex

A related set of cultural traits, such as prevailing dress codes and cooking and eating utensils


Line on a map connecting points of equal temperature values

cultural ecology

The multiple interactions and relationships between a culture and the natural environment

remote sensing

A method of collecting data or information through the use of instruments (e.g., satellites) that are physically distant from the area or object of study

political ecology

An approach to studying nature—society relations that is concerned with the ways in which environmental issues both reflect, and are the result of, the political and socioeconomic contexts in which they are situated

culture trait

A single element of normal practice in a culture, such as the wearing of a turban

mental maps

Image or picture of the way space is organized as determined by an individual’s perception, impression, and knowledge of that space

functional region

A region defined by the particular set of activities or interactions that occur within it


A hunt for a cache, the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates which are placed on the Internet by other geocachers

expansion diffusion

The spread of an innovation or an idea through a population in an area in such a way that the number of those influenced grows continuously larger, resulting in an expanding area of dissemination

geographic concepts

Ways of seeing the world spatially that are used by geographers in answering research questions

arithmetic population density

The population of a country or region expressed as an average per unit area. The figure is derived by dividing the population of the areal unit by the number of square kilometers or miles that make up the unit


A periodic and official count of a country’s population

child mortality rate

A figure that describes the number of children that die between the first and fifth years of their lives in a given population

chronic diseases

Generally long-lasting afflictions now more common because of higher life expectancies

crude birth rate (CBR)

The number of live births yearly per thousand people in a population

crude death rate (CDR)

The number of deaths yearly per thousand people in a population

demographic transition

Multistage model, based on Western Europe’s experience, of changes in population growth exhibited by countries undergoing industrialization. High birth rates and death rates are followed by plunging death rates, producing a huge net population gain; this is followed by the convergence of birth rates and death rates at a low overall level

dot maps

Maps where one dot represents a certain number of a phenomenon, such as a population

doubling time

The time required for a population to double in size

eugenic population policies

Government policies designed to favor one racial sector over others

expansive population policies

Government policies that encourage large families and raise the rate of population growth

infant mortality rate (IMR)

A figure that describes the number of babies that die within the first year of their lives in a given population

life expectancy

A figure indicating how long, on average, a person may be expected to live. Normally expressed in the context of a particular state


Term used to designate large coalescing supercities that are forming in diverse parts of the world; formerly used specifically with an uppercase "M" to refer to the Boston—Washington multimetropolitan corridor on the northeastern seaboard of the United States, but now used generically with a lower-case "m" as a synonym for conurbation

natural increase

Population growth measured as the excess of live births over deaths. Natural increase of a population does not reflect either emigrant or immigrant movements

physiologic population density

The number of people per unit area of arable land

population composition

Structure of a population in terms of age, sex and other properties such as marital status and education

population density

A measurement of the number of people per given unit of land

population distributions

Description of locations on the Earth’s surface where populations live

population explosion

The rapid growth of the world’s human population during the past century, attended by ever-shorter doubling times and accelerating rates of increase

population pyramids

Visual representations of the age and sex composition of a population whereby the percentage of each age group (generally five-year increments) is represented by a horizontal bar the length of which represents its relationship to the total population. The males in each age group are represented to the left of the center line of each horizontal bar; the females in each age group are represented to the right of the center line

restrictive population policies

Government policies designed to reduce the rate of natural increase

stationary population level (SPL)

The level at which a national population ceases to grow

cyclic movements

Movement—for example, nomadic migration—that has a closed route and is repeated annually or seasonally

activity spaces

The space within which daily activity occurs


Movement among a definite set of places—often cyclic movement

periodic movements

Movement—for example, college attendence or military service—that involves temporary, recurrent relocation

migrant labor

A common type of periodic movement involving millions of workers in the United States and tens of millions of workers worldwide who cross international borders in search of employment and become immigrants, in many instances


A seasonal periodic movement of pastoralists and their livestock between highland and lowland pastures

military service

Another common form of periodic movement involving as many as 10 million United States citizens in a given year, including military personnel and their families, who are moved to new locations where they will spend tours of duty lasting up to several years


A change in residence intended to be permanent. See also chain, forced, internal, international, step, and voluntary migration

international migration

Human movement involving movement across international boundaries

internal migration

Human movement within a nation-state, such as ongoing westward and southward movements in the United States

forced migration

Human migration flows in which the movers have no choice but to relocate

voluntary migration

Movement in which people relocate in response to perceived opportunity, not because they are forced to move

laws of migration

Developed by British demographer Ernst Ravenstein, five laws that predict the flow of migrants (become familiar with each of the five laws)

gravity model

A mathematical prediction of the interaction of places, the interaction being a function of population size of the respective places and the distance between them


Shelter and protection in one state for refugees from another state

Chain migration

Pattern of migration that develops when migrants move along and through kinship links (i.e. one migrant settles in a place and then writes, calls, or communicates through others to describe this place to family and friends who in turn then migrate there)


Physical process whereby the colonizer takes over another place, putting its own government in charge and either moving its own people into the place or bringing in indentured outsiders to gain control of the people and the land

distance decay

The effects of distance on interaction, generally the greater the distance the less interaction


A person examining a region that is unknown to them

guest workers

Legal immigrant who has a work visa, usually short term

immigration laws

Laws and regulations of a state designed specifically to control immigration into that state

immigration waves

Phenomenon whereby different patterns of chain migration build upon one another to create a swell in migration from one origin to the same destination

internal refugees

People who have been displaced within their own countries and do not cross international borders as they flee

international refugees

Refugees who have crossed one or more international boundaries during their dislocation, searching for asylum in a different country

intervening opportunity

The presence of a nearer opportunity that greatly diminishes the attractiveness of sites farther away

islands of development

Place built up by a government or corporation to attract foreign investment and which has relatively high concentrations of paying jobs and infrastructure

kinship links

Types of push factors or pull factors that influence a migrant’s decision to go where family or friends have already found success

Pull factors

Positive conditions and perceptions that effectively attract people to new locales from other areas

Push factors

Negative conditions and perceptions that induce people to leave their abode and migrate to a new locale


Established limits by governments on the number of immigrants who can enter a country each year


People who have fled their country because of political persecution and seek asylum in another country

selective immigration

Process to control immigration in which individuals with certain backgrounds (i.e. criminal records, poor health, or subversive activities) are barred from immigrating

step migration

Migration to a distant destination that occurs in stages, for example, from farm to nearby village and later to town and cityassimilation


In the context of local cultures or customs, the accuracy with which a single stereotypical or typecast image or experience conveys an otherwise dynamic and complex local culture or its customs


The process through which something is given monetary value. Commodification occurs when a good or idea that previously was not regarded as an object to be bought and sold is turned into something that has a particular price and that can be traded in a market economy

cultural appropriation

The process by which cultures adopt customs and knowledge from other cultures and use them for their own benefit

cultural landscape

The visible imprint of of human activity and culture on the landscape. The layers of buildings, forms, and artifacts sequentially imprinted on the landscape by the activities of various human occupants


The sum total of the knowledge, attitudes, and habitual behavior patterns shared and transmitted by the members of a society. This is anthropologist Ralph Linton’s definition; hundreds of others exist


Practice routinely followed by a group of people

diffusion routes

The spatial trajectory through which cultural traits or other phenomena spread

distance decay

The effects of distance on interaction, generally the greater the distance the less interaction

ethnic neighborhoods

Neighborhood, typically situated in a larger metropolitan city and constructed by or comprised of a local culture, in which a local culture can practice its customs

folk culture

Cultural traits such as dress modes, dwellings, traditions, and institutions of usually small, traditional communities

folk-housing regions

A region in which the housing stock predominantly reflects styles of building that are particular to the culture of the people who have long inhabited the area

global-local continuum

The notion that what happens at the global scale has a direct effect on what happens at the local scale, and vice versa. This idea posits that the world is comprised of an interconnected series of relationships that extend across space


The process by which people in a local place mediate and alter regional, national, and global processes


The area where an idea or cultural trait originates

hierarchical diffusion

A form of diffusion in which an idea or innovation spreads by passing first among the most connected places or peoples. An urban hierarchy is usually involved, encouraging the leapfrogging of innovations over wide areas, with geographic distance a less important influence

local culture

Group of people in a particular place who see themselves as a collective or a community, who share experiences, customs, and traits, and who work to preserve those traits and customs in order to claim uniqueness and to distinguish themselves from others

material culture

The art, housing, clothing, sports, dances, foods, and other similar items constructed or created by a group of people


The seeking out of the regional culture and reinvigoration of it in response to the uncertainty of the modern world

Nonmaterial culture

The beliefs, practices, aesthics, and values of a group of people


Defined by geographer Edward Relph as the loss of uniqueness of place in the cultural landscape so that one place looks like the next

popular culture

Cultural traits such as dress, diet, and music that identify and are part of today’s changeable, urban-based, media-influenced western societies


With respect to popular culture, when people within a place start to produce an aspect of popular culture themselves, doing so in the context of their local culture and making it their own

time-space compression

A term associated with the work of David Harvey that refers to the social and psychological effects of living in a world in which time-space convergence has rapidly reached a high level of intensitybarrioization Defined by geographer James Curtis as the dramatic increase in Hispanic population in a given neighborhood; referring to barrio, the Spanish word for neighborhood

dowry deaths

In the context of arranged marriages in India, disputes over the price to be paid by the family of the bride to the father of the groom (the dowry) have, in some extreme cases, led to the death of the bride


Affiliation or identity within a group of people bound by common ancestry and culture


Social differences between men and women, rather than the anatomical, biological differences between the sexes. Notions of gender differences—that is, what is considered "feminine" or "masculine"—vary greatly over time and space


In terms of a place, whether the place is designed for or claimed by men or women

identifying against

Constructing an identity by first defining the "other" and then defining ourselves as "not the other"


Defined by geographer Gillian Rose as "how we make sense of ourselves;" how people see themselves at different scales

invasion and succession

Process by which new immigrants to a city move to and dominate or take over areas or neighborhoods occupied by older immigrant groups. For example, in the early twentieth century, Puerto Ricans "invaded" the immigrant Jewish neighborhood of East Harlem and successfully took over the neighborhood or "succeeded" the immigrant Jewish population as the dominant immigrant group in the neighborhood


The fourth theme of geography as defined by the Geography Educational National Implementation Project; uniqueness of a location

queer theory

Theory defined by geographers Glen Elder, Lawrence Knopp, and Heidi Nast that highlights the contextual nature of opposition to the heteronormative and focuses on the political engagement of "queers" with the heteronormative


A categorization of humans based on skin color and other physical characteristics. Racial categories are social and political constructions because they are based on ideas that some biological differences (especially skin color) are more important than others (e.g., height, etc.), even though the latter might have more significance in terms of human activity. With its roots in sixteenth-century England, the term is closely associated with European colonialism because of the impact of that development on global understandings of racial differences


Frequently referred to as a system or attitude toward visible differences in individuals, racism is an ideology of difference that ascribes (predominantly negative) significance and meaning to culturally, socially, and politically constructed ideas based on phenotypical features

residential segregation

Defined by geographers Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton as the degree to which two or more groups live separately from one another, in different parts of an urban environment

sense of place

State of mind derived through the infusion of a place with meaning and emotion by remembering important events that occurred in that place or by labeling a place with a certain character


Defined by Doreen Massey and Pat Jess as "social relations stretched out"language A set of sounds, combination of sounds, and symbols that are used for communication


The sum total of the knowledge, attitudes, and habitual behavior patterns shared and transmitted by the members of a society. This is anthropologist Ralph Linton’s definition; hundreds of others exist

standard language

The variant of a language that a country’s political and intellectual elite seek to promote as the norm for use in schools, government, the media, and other aspects of public life


Local or regional characteristics of a language. While accent refers to the pronunciation differences of a standard language, a dialect, in addition to pronunciation variation, has distinctive grammar and vocabulary


A geographic boundary within which a particular linguistic feature occurs

Mutual intelligibility

The ability of two people to understand each other when speaking

dialect chains

A set of contiguous dialects in which the dialects nearest to each other at any place in the chain are most closely related

language families

Group of languages with a shared but fairly distant origin


Divisions within a language family where the commonalities are more definite and the origin is more recent

sound shift

Slight change in a word across languages within a subfamily or through a language family from the present backward toward its origin


Linguistic hypothesis proposing the existence of an ancestral Indo-European language that is the hearth of the ancient Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit languages which hearth would link modern languages from Scandinavia to North Africa and from North America through parts of Asia to Australia

backward reconstruction

The tracking of sound shifts and hardening of consonants "backward" toward the original language

extinct language

Language without any native speakers

deep reconstruction

Technique using the vocabulary of an extinct language to re-create the language that proceeded the extinct language


Language believed to be the ancestral language not only of Proto-Indo-European, but also of the Kartvelian languages of the of the southern Caucasus region, the Uralic-Altaic languages (including Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish, and Mongolian), the Dravadian languages of India, and the Afro-Asiatic language family

language divergence

The opposite of language convergence; a process suggested by German linguist August Schleicher whereby new languages are formed when a language breaks into dialects due to a lack of spatial interaction among speakers of the language and continued isolation eventually causes the division of the language into discrete new languages

Renfrew hypothesis

Hypothesis developed by British scholar Colin Renfrew wherein he proposed that three areas in and near the first agricultural hearth, the Fertile Crescent, gave rise to three language families: Europe’s Indo-European languages (from Anatolia (present-day Turkey)); North African and Arabian languages (from the western arc of the Fertile Crescent); and the languages in present-day Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (from the eastern arc of the Fertile Crescent)

conquest theory

One major theory of how Proto-Indo-European diffused into Europe which holds that the early speakers of Proto-Indo-European spread westward on horseback, overpowering earlier inhabitants and beginning the diffusion and differentiation of Indo-European tongues

dispersal hypothesis

Hypothesis which holds that the Indo-European languages that arose from Proto-Indo- European were first carried eastward into Southwest Asia, next around the Caspian Sea, and then across the Russian-Ukrainian plains and on into the Balkans

Romance languages

Languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese) that lie in the areas that were once controlled by the Roman Empire but were not subsequently overwhelmed

Germanic languages

Languages (English, German, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish) that reflect the expansion of peoples out of Northern Europe to the west and south

Slavic languages

Languages (Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian) that developed as Slavic people migrated from a base in present-day Ukraine close to 2000 years ago

lingua franca

A term deriving from "Frankish language" and applying to a tongue spoken in ancient Mediterranean ports that consisted of a mixture of Italian, French, Greek, Spanish, and even some Arabic. Today it refers to a "common language," a language used among speakers of different languages for the purposes of trade and commerce

pidgin language

When parts of two or more languages are combined in a simplified structure and vocabulary

Creole language

A language that began as a pidgin language but was later adopted as the mother tongue by a people in place of the mother tongue

monolingual states

Countries in which only one language is spoken

multilingual states

Countries in which more than one language is spoken

official language

In multilingual countries the language selected, often by the educated and politically powerful elite, to promote internal cohesion; usually the language of the courts and government

global language

The language used most commonly around the world; defined on the basis of either the number of speakers of the language, or prevalence of use in commerce and trade


The fourth theme of geography as defined by the Geography Educational National Implementation Project; uniqueness of a location


Place namereligion defined by geographers Robert Stoddard and Carolyn Prorak in the book Geography in America as "a system of beliefs and practices that attempts to order life in terms of culturally perceived ultimate priorities."


The idea that ethical and moral standards should be formulated and adhered to for life on Earth, not to accommodate the prescriptions of a deity and promises of a comfortable afterlife. A secular state is the opposite of a theocracy

monotheistic religion

Belief system in which one supreme being is revered as creator and arbiter of all that exists in the universe

polytheistic religion

Belief system in which multiple deities are revered as creators and arbiters of all that exists in the universe

animistic religion

The belief that inanimate objects, such as hills, trees, rocks, rivers, and other elements of the natural landscape, possess souls and can help or hinder human efforts on Earth

universalizing religion

A belief system that espouses the idea that there is one true religion that is universal in scope. Adherents of universalizing religious systems often believe that their religion represents universal truths, and in some cases great effort is undertaken in evangelism and missionary work

ethnic religion

A religion that is particular to one, culturally distinct, group of people. Unlike universalizing religions, adherents of ethnic religions do not actively seek converts through evangelism or missionary work


One of the oldest religions in the modern world, dating back over 4000 years, and originating in the Indus River Valley of what is today part of Pakistan. Hinduism is unique among the world’s religions in that it does not have a single founder, a single theology, or agreement on its origins

caste system

The strict social segregation of people—specifically in India’s Hindu society—on the basis of ancestry and occupation


Religion founded in the sixth century BCE and characterized by the belief that enlightenment would come through knowledge, especially self-knowledge; elimination of greed, craving, and desire; complete honesty; and never hurting another person or animal. Buddhism splintered from Hinduism as a reaction to the strict social hierarchy maintained by Hinduism


Religion located in Japan and related to Buddhism. Shintoism focuses particularly on nature and ancestor worship


Religion believed to have been founded by Lao-Tsu and based upon his book entitled "Tao-te-ching," or "Book of the Way." Lao-Tsu focused on the proper form of political rule and on the oneness of humanity and nature

Feng Shui

Literally "wind-water." The Chinese art and science of placement and orientation of tombs, dwellings, buildings, and cities. Structures and objects are positioned in an effort to channel flows of sheng-chi ("lifebreath") in favorable ways


A philosophy of ethics, education, and public service based on the writings of Confucius and traditionally thought of as one of the core elements of Chinese culture


Religion with its roots in the teachings of Abraham (from Ur), who is credited with uniting his people to worship only one god. According to Jewish teaching, Abraham and God have a covenant in which the Jews agree to worship only one God, and God agrees to protect his chosen people, the Jews


From the Greek "to disperse," a term describing forceful or voluntary dispersal of a people from their homeland to a new place. Originally denoting the dispersal of Jews, it is increasingly applied to other population dispersals, such as the involuntary relocation of Black peoples during the slave trade or Chinese peoples outside of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong


The movement to unite the Jewish people of the diaspora and to establish a national homeland for them in the promised land


Religion based on the teachings of Jesus. According to Christian teaching, Jesus is the son of God, placed on Earth to teach people how to live according to God’s planactivity space The space within which daily activity occurs

Animistic religions

The belief that inanimate objects, such as hills, trees, rocks, rivers, and other elements of the natural landscape, possess souls and can help or hinder human efforts on Earth

Eastern Orthodox Church

One of three major branches of Christianity, the Eastern Orthodox Church, together with the Roman Catholic Church, a second of the three major branches of Christianity, arose out of the division of the Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian into four governmental regions: two western regions centered in Rome, and two eastern regions centered in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). In 1054 CE, Christianity was divided along that same line when the Eastern Orthodox Church, centered in Constantinople; and the Roman Catholic Church, centered in Rome, split


The systematic killing or extermination of an entire people or nation


The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad

interfaith boundaries

Boundaries between the world’s major faiths

intrafaith boundaries

Boundaries within a single major faith


The youngest of the major world religions, Islam is based on the teachings of Muhammad, born in Mecca in 571 CE. According to Islamic teaching, Muhammad received the truth directly from Allah in a series of revelations during which Muhammad spoke the verses of the Qu’ran (Koran), the Islamic holy book


A doctrine within Islam. Commonly translated as "Holy War," Jihad represents either a personal or collective struggle on the part of Muslims to live up to the religious standards set by the Qu’ran


Tower attached to a Muslim mosque, having one or more projecting balconies from which a crier calls Muslims to prayer


Voluntary travel by an adherent to a sacred site to pay respects or participate in a ritual at the site


One of three major branches of Christianity (together with the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church). Following the widespread societal changes in Europe starting in the 1300s CE, many adherents to the Roman Catholic Church began to question the role of religion in their lives and opened the door to the Protestant Reformation wherein John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others challenged many of the fundamental teachings of the Roman Catholic Church

Religious extremism

Religious fundamentalism carried to the point of violence

religious fundamentalism

Religious movement whose objectives are to return to the foundations of the faith and to influence state policy

Roman Catholic Church

One of three major branches of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, together with the Eastern Orthodox Church, a second of the three major branches of Christianity, arose out of the division of the Roman Empire by Emperor Diocletian into four governmental regions: two western regions centered in Rome, and two eastern regions centered in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). In 1054 CE, Christianity was divided along that same line when the Eastern Orthodox Church, centered in Constantinople; and the Roman Catholic Church, centered in Rome, split

Sacred sites

Place or space people infuse with religious meaning


Community faith in traditional societies in which people follow their shaman—a religious leader, teacher, healer, and visionary. At times, an especially strong shaman might attract a regional following. However, most shamans remain local figures

Shari’a laws

The system of Islamic law, sometimes called Qu’ranic law. Unlike most Western systems of law that are based on legal precedence, Sharia is based on varying degrees of interpretation of the Qu’ran


Adherents of one of the two main divisions of Islam. Also known as Shiahs, the Shiites represent the Persian (Iranian) variation of Islam and believe in the infallibility and divine right to authority of the Imams, descendants of Ali


Adherents to the largest branch of Islam, called the orthodox or traditionalist. They believe in the effectiveness of family and community in the solution of life’s problems, and they differ from the Shiites in accepting the traditions (sunna) of Muhammad as authoritativePolitical Geography the study of the political organizations of the world


a politically organized territory with a permanent population, a defined territory, and a government


(Robert Sack) the attempt by and individual or group to affect, influence, or control people, phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area


having the last say (having control) over and territory-politically and militarily

territorial integrity

the right of a state to defend sovereign territory against incursion from other states

Peace of Westphalia

marked the beginning of the modern state and ended the Thirty Years’ War, Europe’s most destructive internal struggle over religion. The treaties contained new language recognizing statehood and nationhood, clearly defined borders, and guarantees of security


in the general sense, associated with the promotion of commercialism and trade


a culturally defined group of people with a shared past and a common future who relate to a territory and have political goals (ranging from autonomy to statehood)


a politically organized area in which nation and state occupy the same space


the idea that people are the ultimate sovereign-that is the people, the nation, have the ultimate say over what happens within the state

multinational state

a state with more that one nation inside its borders

multistate nation

when a nation stretches across borders and across states

stateless nation

nations that do not have a state


rule by an autonomous power over a subordinate and alien people and place.


representation of a real-world phenomenon at a certain level of reduction or generalization.


in the world economy, people, corporations, and states produce goods and exchange them on the world market, with the goal of achieving profit


the process of placing a price on a good and then buying, selling, and trading the good


processes that incorporate higher levels of education, higher salaries, and more technology thereby generating more wealth in the world economy


processes that incorporate lower levels of education, lower salaries, and less technology, thereby generating less wealth in the world economy.


In the context of political power, the capacity of a state to influence other states or achieve its goals through diplomatic, economic, and militaristic means


Forces that tend to unify a country—such as widespread commitment to a national culture, shared ideological objectives, and a common faith


Forces that tend to divide a country—such as internal religious, linguistic, ethnic, or ideological differences


A nation-state that has a centralized government and administration that exercises power equally over all parts of the state


A political-territorial system wherein a central government represents the various entities within a nation-state where they have common interests—defense, foreign affairs, and the like—yet allows these various entities to retain their own identities and to have their own laws, policies, and customs in certain spheres


The process whereby regions within a state demand and gain political strength and growing autonomy at the expense of the central government

territorial representation

System wherein each representative is elected from a territorially defined district


Process by which representative districts are switched according to population shifts, so that each district encompasses approximately the same number of people


In the context of determining representative districts, the process by which the majority and minority populations are spread evenly across each of the districts to be created therein ensuring control by the majority of each of the districts; as opposed to the result of majority-minority districts

Majority-minority districts

In the context of determining representative districts, the process by which a majority of the population is from the minority

geometric boundaries

Political boundary defined and delimited (and occasionally demarcated) as a straight line or an arc


Political boundary defined and delimited (and occaisionally demarcated) by a prominent physical feature in the natural landscape—such as a river or the crest ridges of a mountain range

heartland theory

A geopolitical hypothesis, proposed by British geographer Halford Mackinder during the first two decades of the twentieth century, that any political power based in the heart of Eurasia could gain sufficient strength to eventually dominate the world. Mackinder further proposed that since Eastern Europe controlled access to the Eurasian interior, its ruler would command the vast "heartland" to the east

critical geopolitics

Process by which geopoliticians deconstruct and focus on explaining the underlying spatial assumptions and territorial perspectives of politicians


World order in which one state is in a position of dominance with allies following rather than joining the political decision-making process

supranational organization

A venture involving three or more nation-states involving formal political, economic, and/or cultural cooperation to promote shared objectives. The European Union is one such organizationurban morphology the study of the physical form and structure of urban places


a conglomeration of people and buildings clustered together to serve as a center of politics, culture, and economics


the buildup of the central city and the suburban realm-the city and the surrounding environs connected to the city

agricultural village

a relatively small, egalitarian village, where most of the population was involved in agriculture. Starting over 10,000 years ago, people began to cluster in agricultural villages as they stayed in one place to tend to their crops

agricultural surplus

one of two components, together with social stratification, that enable the formation of cities; agricultural production in excess of that which the producer needs for his or her own sustenance and that of his or her familiy and which is then sold for consumption by others

social stratification

one of two components, together with agricultural surplus, which enables the formation of cities, the differentiation of society into classes based on wealth, power, production, and prestige

leadership class

(or urban elite) consist of a group of decision makers and organizers who controlled the resources, and often the lives, of others

first urban revolution

the innovation of the city


region of great cities (e.g. Ur and Babylon) located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; chronologically the first urban hearth, dating to 3500 BCE, and which was founded in the Fertile Crescent

Nile River Valley

chronologically the second urban hearth, dating to 3200 BCE

Indus River Valley

chronologically, the third urban hearth, dating 2200 BCE

Huang He and Wei

Rivers in present-day China, it was at the confluence of the Huang He and Wei Rivers where chronologically the fourth urban hearth was established around 1500 BCE


chronologically the fifth urban hearth, dating 200 BCE


literally "high point of the city". The upper fortified part of an ancient Greek city, usually deoted to religioius purposes


in Ancient Greece, public spaces where citizens debated, lectured, judged each other, planned military campaingns, socialized, and traded


the absolute location of a city, often chosen for the best trade location, the best defensive location, or an important religious location


the focal point of ancient Roman life combining the functions of the ancient Greek acropolis and agora


a city’s relative location, its place in the region and world around it

urban banana

a crescent-shaped zone across Eurasia from England in the west to Japan in the east, including the cities of London, Paris, Venice, Constantinople (Istanbul today), and Tabriz, Samarqand, Kabul, Lahore, Amra, Jaunpur, Xian, Anyang, Kyoto and Osakatrade area an adjacent region within which a city’s influence is dominant

rank-size rule

holds that in a model urban hierarchy, the population of a city or town will be inversely proportional to its rank in the hierarchy

central place theory

theory proposed by Walter Christaller that explains how and where central places in the urban hierarchy should be functionally and spatially distributed with respect to one another

Sunbelt phenomenon

the movement of milloins of Americans from northern and northeastern States to the South and Southwest regions (Sunbelt) of the United States

functional zonation

the division of a city into different regions or zones (e.g. residential or industrial) for certain purposes or functions (e.g. housing or manufacturing)


areas with relatively uniform land use, for example, an industrial zone or a residential zone

central business district

a concentration of business and commerce in the city’s downtown

central city

the urban area that is not suburban


an outlying, functionally uniform part of an urban area, and is often (but not always) adjacent to the central city.


the process by which lands that were previously outside of the urban environment become urbanized, as people and businesses from the city move to these spaces

concentric zone model

CBD-(Burgess Model) divides the city into five concentric zones, defined by their function

edge cities

a term introduced by American journalist JOel Garreau in order to describe the shifting focus of urbanization in the United States away from the Central Business District (CBD) toward a new loci of economic activity at the urban fringe

urban realm

a spatial generalization of the large, late-twentieth-century city in the United States. It is shown to be a widely dispersed, multicentered metropolis consisting of increasingly independent zones or realms, each focused on its own suburban downtown; the only exception is the shrunken central realm, which is focused on the CBD

Griffin-Ford model

a model of the Latin American city showing a blend of traditional elements of Latin American culture with the forces of globalization that are reshaping the urban scene

disamenity sector

the very poorest of cities that in extreme cases are not even connected to regular city services and are controlled by gangs or drug-lords

McGee model

developed by geographer T.G. McGee, a model showing similar land-use patterns among the medium-sized cities of Southeast Asia


Unplanned slum development on the margins of cities, dominated by crude dwellings and shelters made mostly of scrap wood, iron, and even pieces of cardboardf

zoning laws

Legal restrictions on land use that determines what types of building and economic activities are allowed to take place in certain areas. In the United States, areas are most commonly divided into separate zones of residential, retail, or industrial use.


a discriminatory real estate practice in North America in which members of minority groups are prevented from obtaining money to purchase homes or property in predominantly white neighborhoods. The practice derived its name from the red lines depicted on cadastral maps used by real estate agents and developers. Today, redlining is officially illegal.


rapid change in the racial composition of residential blocks in American cities that occurs when real estate agents and others stir up fears of neighborhood decline after encouraging people of color to move to previously white neighborhoods. In the resulting outmigration, real estate agents profit through the turnover of properties


the transformation of an area of a city into an area attractive to residents and tourists alike in terms of economic activity.


the rehabilitation of deteriorated, often abandoned, housing of low-income inner-city residents.


Home bought in many American suburbs with the intent of tearing them down and replacing them with much larger homes often referred to as McMassions


Homes referred to as such because of their "super size" and similarly in appearance to other such homes, homes often built in place of tear-downs in American suburbs.

urban sprawl

unrestricted growth in many American urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land, with little concern for urban planning

new urbanism

outlined by a group of architects, urban planners, and developers from over 20 countries, and urban design that calls for development, urban revitalization, and suburban reforms that create walkable neighborhoods with a diversity of housing and jobs.

gated communities

restricted neighborhoods or subdivisions, often literally fenced in, where entry is limited to residents and their guests. Although predominantly high-income based, in North America gated communities are increasingly a middle-class phenomenon.

informal economy

economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by a government; and is not included in that government’s Gross National Product (GNP); as opposed to a formal economy.

world city

dominant city in terms of its role in the global political economy. Not the world’s biggest city in terms of population or industrial output, but rather centers of strategic control of the world economy.

primate city

a country’s largest city-ranking atop the urban hierarchy-most expressive of the national culture and usually (but not always) he capital city as well

spaces of consumption

areas of a city, the main purpose of which is to encourage people to consume goods and services, driven primarily by the global media industry


with respect to a country, making progress in technology, production, and socioeconomic welfare

gross national product (GNP)

the total value of all goods, and services produced by a country’s economy in a given year. It includes all goods and services produced by corporations and individuals of a country, whether or not they are they are located within the country

gross domestic product (GDP)

the total value of all goods and services produced within a country during a given year

gross national income (GNI)

calculates the monetary worth of what is produced within a country plus income received from investments outside the country, as a more accurate way of measuring a country’s wealth in the contest of a global economy

per capita GNI

a division of the GNI by the population of the country

formal economy

the legal economy that is taxed and monitored by a government and is included in a government’s Gross National Product (GNP), as opposed to an informal economy

informal economy

economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by a government; and is not included in that government’s Gross National Product (GNP); as opposed to a formal economy

modernization model

a model of economic development most closely associated with the work of economist Walter Rostow. The modernization model (sometimes referred to as modernization theory) maintains that all countries go through five interrelated stages of development, which culminate in an economic state of self-sustained economic growth and high levels of mass consumption


the geographic situation in which something occurs; the combination of what is happening at a variety of scales concurrently


the seeking out of the regional culture and reinvigoration of it in response to the uncertainty of the modern world

structuralist theory

a general term of a model of economic development that treats economic disparities among countries or regions as the result of historically derived power relations within the global economic systems.

dependency theory

a structuralist theory that offers a critique of the modernization model of development. Based on the idea that certain types of political and economic relations (especially colonialism) between countries and regions of the world have created arrangements that both control and limit the extent to which regions can develop


when a poorer country ties the value of its currency to that of a wealthier country, or when it abandons its currency and adopts the wealthier country’s currency as its own

world-system theory

theory originated by Immanuel Wallerstein and illuminated by his three-tier structure, proposing that social change in the developing world is inextricably linked to the economic activities of the developed world

three-tier structure

with reference to Immanuel Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, the division of the world into the core, the periphery, and the semi-periphery as a means to help explain the inter-connections between places in the global economy


when a family sends a child or an adult to a labor recruiter in hopes that the labor recruiter will send money, and the family member will earn money to send home

structural adjustment loans

loans granted by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to countries in the periphery and the semi-periphery in exchange for certain economic and governmental reforms in that country (e.g. privatization of certain government entities and opening the country to foreign trade and investment)

vectored diseases

a disease carried from one host to another by an intermediate host


spread by mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite in their saliva and which kills approximately 150,000 children in the global periphery each month

export processing zones (EPZs)

zones established by many countries in the periphery and semi-periphery where they offer favorable tax, regulatory, and trade arrangements to attract foreign trade and investment


the term given to zones in Northern Mexico with factories supplying manufactured goods to the U.S. market. The low-wage workers in the primarily foreign-owned factories assemble imported components and/or raw materials and then export finished goods.

special economic zones (SEZ)

specific area within a country in which tax incentives and less stringent environmental regulations are implemented to attract foreign business and investment

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

agreement entered into by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in December, 1992 and which took effect on January 1, 1994, to eliminate the barriers to trade in, and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services between the countries


the encroachment of desert conditions on moister zones along the desert margins, where plant cover and soils are threatened by desiccation-through overuse, in part by humans and their domestic animal, and possibly, in part because of inexorable shifts in the Earth’s environmental zones

island of development

place built up by a government or corporation to attract foreign investment and which has relatively high concentrations of paying jobs and infrastructure

nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)

international organizations that operate outside of the formal political arena but are nevertheless influential in spearheading international initiatives on social, economic, and environmental issues

microcredit program

program that provides small loans to poor people, especially women, to encourage development of small businessesorganic agriculture approach to farming and ranching that avoids the use of herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, and other similar synthetic inputs


the purposeful tending of crops and livestock in order to produce food and fiber.

primary economic activity

economic activity concerned with the direct extraction of natural resources from the environment–such as mining, fishing, lumbering, and especially agriculture

secondary economic activity

economic activity involving the processing of raw materials and their transformation into finished industrial products, the manufacturing sector.

tertiary economic activity

economic activity associated with the provision of services–such transportation, banking, retailing, education, and routine office-based jobs.

quaternary economic activity

service sector industries concerned with the collection, processing, and manipulation of information and capital. Examples include finance, administration, insurance, and legal services.

quinary economic activity

service sector industries that require a high level of specialized knowledge or technical skill. Examples include scientific research and high-level management.

root crops

crop that is reproduced by cultivating the roots of or the cuttings from the plants

seed crops

crop that is reproduced by cultivating the seeds of the plants.

First Agricultural Revolution

dating back 10,000 years, the First Agricultural Revolution achieved plant domestication and animal domestication

animal domestication

genetic modification of an animal such that it is rendered more amenable to human control

subsistence agriculture

self-sufficient agriculture that is small small and low technology and emphasizes food production for local consumption, not for trade.

shifting cultivation

cultivation of crops in tropical forest clearings in which the forest vegetation has been removed by cutting and burning. These clearings are usually abandoned after a few years in favor of newly cleared forestland. Also know as slash-and-burn agriculture.

slash-and-burn agriculture

(see shifting cultivation)

Second Agricultural Revolution

dovetailing with and benefiting from the Industrial Revolution, the Second Agricultural Revolution witnessed improved methods of cultivation, harvesting, and storage of farm products.

von Thunen model

a model that explains the location of agricultural activities in a commercial, profit-making economy. A process of spatial competition allocates verious farming activities into rings around a central market city, with profit-earning capability the determining force in how far a crop locates from the market

Third Agricultural Revolution

currently in progress, the Third Agricultural Revolution has as its principal orientation the development of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Green Revolution

the recently successful development of higher-yield, fast-growing varieties of rice and other cereals in certain developing countries, which led to increased production per unit area and a dramatic narrowing of the gap between population growth and food needs

genetically modified organism (GMOs)

crops that carry new growth that have been inserted through advanced genetic engineering methods.

rectangular survey system

also called the Public Land Survey, the systems was used by the US Land Office Survey to parcel land west of the Appalachian Mountains. The systems divides land into a series of rectangular parcels.

township and range systems

a rectangular land division scheme designed by Thomas Jefferson to disperse settlers evenly across farmlands of the U. S. interior. (See also rectangular survey system)

metes and bounds system

a system of land surveying east of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a system that relies on descriptions of land ownership and natural features such as streams or trees. Because of the imprecise nature of metes and bounds surveying, the U.S. Land Office Survey abandoned the technique in favor of the rectangular survey systems

longlot survey system

distinct regional approach to land surveying found in the Canadian Maritimes, parts of Quebec, Louisiana, and Texas whereby land is divided into narrow parcels stretching back from rivers, roads, or canals.


system which the eldest son in a family– or, in exceptional cases, daughter–inherits all of a dying parent’s land.

commercial agriculture

term used to describe large scale farming and ranching operations that employ vast land bases, large mechanized equipment, factory-type labor, and the latest technology


dependence on a single agricultural commodity

Koppen climatic classification system

developed by Wladimir Koppen, a system for classifying the world’s climates on the basis of temperature and precipitation

climatic regions

areas of the world with similar climatic charactaristics

plantation agriculture

production system based on large estate owned by an individual, family, or corporation and organized to produce a cash crop. Almost all plantations were established within the tropics, in recent decades, many have been divided into smaller holdings or reorganized as cooperatives

luxury crops

non-subsistence crops such as tea, cacoa, coffee, and tobacco

livestock ranching

the raising of domesticated animals for the production of meat and other byproducts such as leather and wool

Mediterranean agriculture

specialized farming that occurs only in areas where the dry-summer Mediterranean climate prevails


general terms for the businesses that provide the vast array of goods and services that support the agriculture industry

location theory

a logical attempt to explain the locational pattern of an economic activity and the manner in which its producing areas are interrelated. The agricultural location theory contained in the von Thunen model is a leading example

variable costs

costs that change directly with the amount of production (e.g. energy supply and labor costs)

friction of distance

the increase in time and cost that usually comes with increasing distance

distance decay

the effects of distance on interaction, generally the greater the distance the less interaction

least cost theory

model developed by Alfred Weber according to which the location of manufacturing establishments is determined by the minimization of three critical expenses: labor, transportation, and agglomeration


a process involving the clustering or concentrating of people or activities. The term often refers to manufacturing plants and businesses that benefit from close proximity because they share skilled-labor pools and technological and financial amenities


the process of industrial deconcentration in response to technological advances and/or increasing costs due to congestion and competition

locational interdependence

theory developed by economist Harold Hotelling that suggests competitors, in trying to maximize sales, will seek to constrain each other’s territory as much as possible which will therefore lead them to locate adjacent to on another in the middle of their collective customer base

primary industrial regions

Western and Central Europe; Eastern North America; Russia and Ukraine; and Eastern Asia, each of which consists of one or more core areas of industrial development with subsidiary clusters

break-of-bulk point

a location along a transport route where goods must be transferred from one carrier to another. In a port, the cargoes of oceangoing ships are unloaded and put on trains, trucks, or perhaps smaller riverboats for inland distribution


a highly organized and specialized systems for organizing industrial production and labor. Named after automobile producer Henry Ford, Fordist production features assembly-line production of standardized components for mass consumption


world economic system characterized by a more flexible set of production practices in which goods are not mass-produced; instead, production has been accelerated and dispersed around the globe by multinational companies that shift production, outsourcing it around the world and bringing places closer together in time and space than would have been imaginable at the beginning of the twentieth century

just-in-time delivery

method of inventory management made possible by efficient transportation and communication systems, whereby companies keep on hand just what they need for near-term production, planning that what they need for longer-term production will arrive when needed

global division of labor

phenomenon whereby corporations and others can draw from labor markets around the world, made possible by the compression of time and space through innovation in communication and transportation systems

intermodal connections

places where two or more modes of transportation meet (including air, road, rail, barge, and ship)


with reference to production, to turn over in part or in total to a third party


With reference to production, to outsource to a third party located outside of the country.


The southern and southwestern states, from the Carolinas to California, characterized by warm climate and recently, rapid population growth

chloroflourocarbons (CFCs)

synthetic organic compounds first created in the 1950s and used primarily as refrigerants and as propellants. The role of CFCs in the destruction of the ozone layer led to the signing of an international agreement (the Montreal Agreement)


the primeval supercontinent, hypothesized by Alfred Wegener, that broke apart and formed the continents and oceans as we know them today; consisted of two parts–a northern Laurasia and a southern Gondwana


the formation of carbohydrates in living plants from water and carbon dioxide, through the action

mass depletions

loss of diversity through a failure to produce new species

mass extinctions

mass destruction of most species

Pacific Ring of Fire

Ocean-girdling zone of crustal instability, volcanism,


the most recent epoch in the Late Cenozoic Ice Age, beginning about 1.8 million years ago and marked by as many as 30 glaciations and interglaciations of which the current warm phase, the Holocene epoch, have witnessed the rise of human civilization


a period of global cooling during which continental ice sheets and mountain glaciers expand


sustained warming phase between glaciations during an ice age

Wisconconsinian glaciation

the most recent glacial period of the Pleistocene, enduring about 100,000 years and giving way, beginning about 18,000 years ago, to the current interglacial, the Holocene


the current interglaciation period, extending from 10, 000 years ago to the present on the geologic time scale

Little Ice Age

temporary but significant cooling period between the fourteenth and the nineteenth centuries; accompanied by wide temperature fluctuations, droughts, and storms; causing famines and dislocation

environmental stress

the threat to environmental security by human activity such as atmosphere and groundwater pollution, deforestation, oil spills, and ocean dumping

renewable resources

resources that can regenerate as they are expoited

hydrologic cycle

the system of exchange involving water in its various forms as it continually circulates among the atmosphere, the oceans, and above and below the land surface


subterranean, porous, water-holding rocks that provide millions of wells with steady flows of water


blanket of gases surrounding the Earth and located some 350 miles above the Earth’s surface

global warming

theory that the Earth is gradually warming as a result of an enhanced greenhouse effect in the Earth’s atmosphere caused by ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide produced by various human activities

acid rain

a growing environmental peril whereby acidified rainwater severely damages plant and animal life; caused by the oxides of sulfur and nitrogen that are released into the atmosphere when coal, oil and natural gas are burned, especially in major manufacturing zones

oxygen cycle

cycle whereby natural processes and human activity consume atmospheric oxygen and produce carbon dioxide and the Earth’s forests and other flora, through photosynthesis, consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen


the clearing or destruction of forests

soil erosion

the wearing away of the land surface by wind and moving water

solid waste

non-liquid, non-soluble materials ranging from municipal garbage to sewage sludge; agricultural refuse; and mining residues

sanitary landfills

disposal sites for non-hazardous solid waste that is spread in layters and compacted to the smallest practical volume. The sites are typically designed with floors made of materials to treat seeping liquids and are covered by soil as the wastes are compacted and deposited into the landfills.

toxic waste

hazardous wast causing danger from chemicals and infectious organisms

radioactive waste

hazardous waste-emitting radiation from nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons factories, and nuclear equipment in hospitals and industry.


the total variety of plant and animal species in a particular place; biological diversity

ozone layer

the layer in the upper atmosphere located between 30 and 45 kilometers above the Earth’s surface where stratospheric ozone is most densely concentrated. The ozone layer acts as a filter for the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays

Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

the first international convention aimed at addressing the issue of ozone depletion. Held in 1985, the Vienna Convention was the predecessor to the Montreal Protocol

Montreal Protocol

an international agreement signed in 1987 by 105 countries and the European Community (now European Union). The protocol called for a reduction in the production and consumption of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) of 50 percent by 2000. Subsequent meetings in London (1990) and Copenhagen (1992) accelerated the timing of CFC phaseout, and a worldwide complete ban has been in effect since 1996.globalization the expansion of economic, political, and cultural processes to the point that they become global in scale and impact. The processes of globalization transcend state boundaries and have outcomes that vary across places and scales

Washington Consensus

label used to refer to the following fundamental principles of free trade: 1)that free trade raises the well-being of all countries by inducing them to devote their resources to production of those goods they produce relatively most efficiently; and 2) that competition through trade raises a country’s long-term growth rate by expanding access to global technologies and promoting innovation

participatory development

the notion that locals should be engaged in deciding what development means for them and how it should be achieved

local exchange trading system (LETS)

a barter system whereby a local currency is created through which members trade services or goods in a local network separated from the formal economy

vertical integration

ownership of the same firm of a number of companies that exist along a variety of points on a commodity chain


the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects


people or corporations who control access to information

horizontal integration

ownership of the same firm of a number of companies that exist at the same point on a commodity chain


defined by Manuel Castells as a set of interconnected nodes without a center


process by which companies move industrial jobs to other regions with cheaper labor, leaving the newly deindustrialized region to switch to a service economy and to work through a period of high unemployment


Immune system disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which over a period of years weakens the capacity of the immune system to fight off infection so that weight loss and weakness set in and other afflictions such as cancer or pneumonia may hasten an infected person’s demise

commodity chain

series of links connecting the many places of production and distribution and resulting in a commodity that is then exchanged on the world market


Centers or nodes of high-technology research and activity around which a high-technology corridor is sometimes established.

language convergence

The collapsing of two languages into one resulting from the consistent spatial interaction of peoples with different languages; the opposite of language divergence


Money migrants send back to family and friends in their home countries, often in cash, forming an important part of the economy in many poorer countries

Industrial Revolution

the term applied to the social and economic changes in agriculture, commerce and manufacturing that resulted from technological innovations and specialization in late-eighteenth-century Europe


The process through which people lose originally differentiating traits, such as dress, speech particularities or mannerisms, when they come into contact with another society or culture. Often used to describe immigrant adaptation to new places of residence

perceptual region

A region that only exists as a conceptualization or an idea and not as a physically demarcated entity. For example, in the United States, "the South" and "the Mid-Atlantic region" are perceptual regions

semi periphery

Places where core and periphery processes are both occurring; places that are exploited by the core but in turn exploit the periphery

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