AP Human Geography – The Grand Review

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5 Themes of Geography

1. Movement – movement of people, goods and ideas 2. Region – an area that has similar, unifying characteristics 3. Location – position on the Earth’s surface 4. Interaction – between people and their environment (human-environment interaction) examples: hunting, fishing, deforestation 5. Place – human features (languages, houses) and physical features (climate, animals)


The ease of reaching one location from another. Example: how long it takes to get from one place to another

Base Line

An east-west line designated under the Land Ordinance of 1785 to facilitate the surveying and numbering of townships in the United States. (These lines set up townships.)


The science of making maps


Relationships among people and objects across the barrier of space. How things relate to each other through relationships.

Coordinate System

A standard grid, composed of lines of latitude and longitude, used to determine the absolute location of any object, place, or feature on the earth’s surface. (Latitude and longitude lines creating set points)

Cultural Ecology

Geographic approach that emphasizes human-environment relationships. (The human/environment relationships studied in geography) Example: cutting down trees

Cultural Landscape

Fashioning of a natural landscape by a cultural group. Cultural features and physical climate combined. Example: language, climate, religion, vegitation


The body of customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits that together constitutes a group of people’s distinct tradition. Example: music, traditions, traits


The process of spread of a feature or trend from one place to another over time


Distributed or spread out (When things are spread apart over a place.)


The arrangement of something across Earth’s surface. (How things are arranged in an area)

Environmental Determinism

A nineteenth- and early twentieth-century approach to the study of geography that argued that the general laws sought by human geographers could be found in the physical sciences. Geography was therefore the study of how the physical environment caused human activities. (States that the environment forces the people to change)

Formal Region

(or uniform or homogeneous region) An area in which everyone shares in one or more distinctive characteristics. Example: language, government

Functional (or nodal) Region

An area organized around a node or focal point. (A region centered around one point) Example: supermarket

Geographic Information System (GIS)

A computer system that can capture, store, query, analyze, and display geographic data. System stores information in layers.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

A system that determines the precise position of something on Earth through a series of satellites, tracking stations, and receivers. (Determines location of something on Earth)


Actions or processes that involve the entire world and result in making something worldwide in scope.

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

The time in that zone encompassing the prime meridian, or 0° longitude. Called the "universal time zone"


The region from which innovative ideas originate. (The place where diffusion starts)

Hierarchical Diffusion

The spread of a feature or trend from one key person or node of authority or power to other persons or places. (Spread of an idea from a important person) Example: President Obama tells the United States things and we believe him


The more zoomed in an area is on a map. If a map has a large-scale the area shown will be smaller, like a city.


The numbering system used to indicate the location of parallels drawn on a globe and measuring distance north and south of the equator. (The parallel lines on earth, hint: latitude = fatitude)


The position of anything on the Earth. Where something is located on Earth.


A two-dimensional, or flat, representation of Earth’s surface or a portion of it. (2-D model of Earth)

Mental Map

An internal representation of a portion of Earth’s surface based on what an individual knows about a place, containing personal impressions of what is in a place and where places are located. (A map in your mind)


An arc drawn on a map between the north and south poles. Vertical arcs on a map.

Nodal Region

An area organized around a node or focal point. Also called a functional region.


A circle drawn around the globe parallel to the equator and at right angles to the meridians. Circles drawn around the earth north and south of the equator


The geometric or regular arrangement of something in a study area.

Perceptual Region

A region that only exists as a conceptualization or an idea and not as a physically demarcated entity. A region you think of another culture Example: The south of the United States is full of farmers and rednecks


A specific point on Earth distinguished by a particular character. The "feel or an area. Example: land forms, religion, language


Land created by the Dutch by draining water from an area.


The theory that the physical environment may set limits on human actions, but people have the ability to adjust to the physical environment and choose a course of action from many alternatives. (States that humans change because of choice not because the environment forges them to.) Example: Rice grows better in colder temperatures however, people still grow it in warm climates

Prime Meridian

An imaginary line passing through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, which marks the 0° line of longitude.

Principal Meridian

A north-south line designated in the Land Ordinance of 1785 to facilitate the surveying and numbering of townships in the United States. (North-South lines that separated townships)


The system used to transfer locations from Earth’s surface to a flat map.


An area distinguished by a unique combination of trends or features. Physical characteristics that are alike. Example: Mountains in the west of the USA

Regional (or cultural landscape) Studies

An approach to geography that emphasizes the relationships among social and physical phenomena in a particular study area. (Study of social and physical relationships)

Relocation Diffusion

The spread of a feature or trend through bodily movement of people from one place to another. Physical spread of an idea from place to place. Example: A person moves from England to the USA and brings with them an idea from England causing it to spread.

Remote Sensing

The acquisition of data about Earth’s surface from a satellite orbiting the planet or other long-distance methods.


A substance in the environment that is useful to people, is economically and technologically feasible to access, and is socially acceptable to use.


Generally, the relationship between the portion of Earth being studied and Earth as a whole, specifically the relationship between the size of an object on a map and the size of the actual feature on Earth’s surface

Sense of Place

Feelings evoked by people as a result of certain experiences and memories associated with a particular place. The "feel " that makes a area feel special. Example: A place that feels like home


The physical character of a place. Physical things in a place. Example: Soil


The location of a place relative to other places. Where something is situated on Earth in relation to other places.


A small scale on a map would be the regular size something is in real life. The smaller the scale is, the larger the area will be shown.


The physical gap or interval between two objects. The physical distance between things.

Space-Time Compression

The reduction in the time it takes to diffuse something to a distant place, as a result of improved communications and transportation systems. Example: Now songs spread quickly around the world because of ITunes

Spatial Diffusion

Spatial diffusion refers to the ways in which phenomena, such as technological innovations, cultural trends, or even outbreaks of disease, travel over space.

Climate Zones
A. Humid Low-Latitude Climates
B. Dry Climates
C. Warm Mid-Latitude Climates
D. Cold Mid-Latitude Climates
E. Polar Climates

Spatial Perspective

An intellectual framework that looks a the particular locations of specific phenomena, how and why that phenomena is where it is, and, finally, how it is spatially related to phenomena in other places (How things in a certain location interact with each other)

Thematic Layers

Individual maps of specific features that are overlaid on one another in a Geographical Information System to understand and analyze a spatial relationship. (Layers in the GIS)

Tobler’s First Law of Geography

"Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things"


The name given to a portion of Earth’s surface (Place Name)


A square normally 6 miles on a side. The Land Ordinance of 1785 divided much of the United States into a series of townships.


The extent to which a service can be moved from place to place

Uniform Region

A place with 1 or more features present throughout

Vernacular Region (or perceptual region)

An area that people believe exists a a part of their cultural identity. Example: The south is filled with rednecks

Agricultural Density

The ratio of the number of farmers to the total amount of land suitable for agriculture. The number of farmers to amount of farmland.

Arithmetic Density

The total number of people divided by the total land area. The number of people divided by total land area.


The extent of a feature’s spread over space. If the objects in an area are close together they are clustered, if they are relatively far apart, they are dispersed.

Contagious Diffusion

The rapid, widespread diffusion of a feature or trend throughout a population.


The frequency with which something exists within a given unit of area

Distance Decay

The diminishing in importance and eventual disappearance of a phenomenon with increasing distance from its origin.

Expansion Diffusion

The spread of a feature or trend among people from one area to another in a snowballing process.

International Date Line

An arc that for the most part follows 180° longitude, although it deviates in several places to avoid dividing land areas. When you cross the International Date Line heading east (toward America), the clock moves back 24 hours, or one entire day. When you go west (toward Asia), the calendar moves ahead one day.

Land Ordinance of 1785

A law that divided much of the United States into a system of townships to facilitate the sale of land to settlers.

Physiological Density

The number of people per unit of area of arable land, which is land suitable for agriculture.


A square normally 1 mile on a side. The Land Ordinance of 1785 divided townships in the United States into 36 sections.

Stimulus Diffusion

The spread of an underlying principle, even though a specific characteristic is rejected.

Transnational Corporation

A company that conducts research, operates factories, and sells products in many countries, not just where its headquarters or shareholders are located.

Uneven Development

The increasing gap in economic conditions between core and peripheral regions as a result of the globalization of the economy.

Agricultural Revolution

(Also called the neolithic revolution) The time when human beings first domesticated plants and animals and no longer relied entirely on hunting and gathering


A complete enumeration of a population. The count of a population used to help determine demographics.

Crude Birth Rate (CBR)

The total number of live births in a year for every 1,000 people alive in the society.

Crude Death Rate (CDR)

The total number of deaths in a year for every 1,000 people alive in the society.

Demographic Transition

The process of change in a society’s population from a condition of high crude birth and death rates and low rate of natural increase to a condition of low crude birth and death rates, low rate of natural increase, and a higher total population. Stage 1 – Low Growth (CBR and CDR varied, low NIR) (No countries in this stage today) Stage 2 – High Growth (CDR decreases, CBR constant, high NIR) Stage 3 – Moderate Growth (CBR decreases, CDR constant, NIR modest) (CBR/CDR gap narrows) Stage 4 – Low Growth (CBR declines to be equal to CDR, NIR approaches 0, ZPG, CBR still slightly higher than CDR)


Scientific study of population characteristics (demographics) Example: religion, race

Dependency Ratio

The number of people under the age of 15 and over age 64, compared to the number of people active in the labor force.

Doubling Time

The number of years needed to double a population, assuming a constant rate of natural increase.


The portion of Earth’s surface occupied by permanent human settlement. Example: New York City

Epidemiologic Transiton

Distinctive causes of death in each stage of the demographic transition. Stage 1 – Pestilence and Famine Example: The Black Plague Stage 2 – Receding Pandemics Example: Cholera Stages 3 – Degenerative and Human-Created Diseases Example: Cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer Stage 4 – Delayed Degenerative Diseases Possible Stage 5 – Reemergence of Infectious and parasitic diseases Example: Tuberculosis


Branch of medical science concerned with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases that affect large numbers of people.

Industrial Revolution

A series of improvements in industrial technology that transformed the process of manufacturing goods.

Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)

The total number of deaths in a year among infants under 1 year old for every 1,000 live births in a society.

Life Expectancy

The average number of years an individual can be expected to live, given current social, economic, and medical conditions. Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years a newborn infant can expect to live.

Medical Revolution

Medical technology invented in Europe and North America that is diffused to the poorer countries of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Improved medical practices have eliminated many of the traditional causes of death in poorer countries and enabled more people to live longer and healthier lives.

Natural Increase Rate (NIR)

The percentage growth of a population in a year, computed as the crude birth rate minus the crude death rate. (CBR-CDR=NIR)


The number of a people in an area exceeds the capacity of the environment to support life at a decent standard of living.


Disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects a very high proportion of the population.

Population Pyramid

A bar graph representing the distribution of population by age and sex. The left side is men, the right side is women and the top of the pyramid is the oldest and the bottom is the youngest.

Sex Ratio

The number of males per 100 females in the population.

Total Fertility Rate (TRF)

The average number of children a woman will have throughout her childbearing years.

Zero Population Growth

A decline of the total fertility rate to the point where the natural increase rate equals zero.


A group who built on Malthus’ theory and suggested that people wouldn’t just starve for lack of food, but would have wars about food and other scarce resources.

Malthus Theory

The belief that there is a finite optimum population size in relation to food supply, and that any increase in population beyond this point would lead to a decline in the standard of living and to war famine and disease. Created by Thomas Malthus. (Population is growing much more rapidly than Earth’s food supply because population increased geometrically whereas food supply increase arithmetically)

Ester Boserup

Principal critic of Malthusian theory who argued that overpopulation could be solved by increasing the number of subsistence farmers.

Brain Drain

Large-scale emigration by talented people.

Chain Migration

Migration of people to a specific location because relatives or members of the same nationality previously migrated there


Short-term, repetitive, or cyclical movements that recur on a regular basis. Example: Going to and from work

Cotton Belt

A region stretching from South Carolina to east Texas (The South, Plantations) where most of U.S. cotton was grown during the mid-1800’s


Net migration from urban to rural areas in more developed countries


Migration from a location


The area subject to flooding during a given number of years according to historical trends.

Forced Migration

Forced permanent movement compelled usually by cultural factors. Example: Jews leaving Nazi Germany

Guest Workers

Workers who migrate to the more developed countries of Northern and Western Europe, usually from Southern of Eastern Europe or from North Africa, in search of higher-paying jobs.

4 Most Populated Regions Of Earth

East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Western Europe


Migration to a new location

Internal Migration

Permanent movement within a particular country.

International Migration

Permanent movement from one country to another.

Interregional Migration

Permanent movement from one region of a country to another. Movement from region to region Example: Eastern USA to Western USA

Intervening Obsticle

An environmental or cultural feature of the landscape that hinders migration. Example: Ocean, Mountain Range

Intraregional Migration

Permanent movement within one region of a country. Moving to a different place inside the same region.


Form of relocation diffusion involving permanent move to a new location.

Migration Transition

Change in the migration pattern in a society that results from industrialization, population growth, and other social and economic changes that also produce the demographic transition. Stage 2 – People begin to move


All types of movement from one location to another

Net Migration

The difference between the level of immigration and the level of emigration.

Pull Factor

A factor that draws or attracts people to another location. Pulls people to a new location

Push Factor

Factors that induce people to leave old residences. Pushes people out of their old residence


In reference to migration, laws that place maximum limits on the number of people who can immigrate to a country each year.


People who are forced to migrate from their home country and cannot return for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion. Example: South Sudan

Rust Belt

The northern industrial states of the United States, including Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, in which heavy industry was once the dominant economic activity. In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, these states lost much of their economic base to economically attractive regions of the United States and to countries where labor was cheaper, leaving old machinery to rust in the moist northern climate. (Northeast and Midwest regions of the USA that were dependent on industry and steel manufacturing)

Sun Belt

Area corresponding to the South and Southwest of the United States, which experienced a population growth starting in the 1970s becasue of the temperate climate and sunny weather.

Time-Contract Workers

A worker who comes to work in a foreign country for a fixed period of time Example: Ski Resort Workers, Construction

Undocumented Immigrants

People who enter a country without proper documents. Illegal Immigrants

Voluntary Migration

Permanent movement undertaken by choice. Example: Job Opprotunity

Cultural Imperialism

Domination of one culture over another by a deliberate policy or by economic or technological superiority. Example: Westernization, US Media diffuses to other areas


The frequent repetition of an act, to the extent that it becomes characteristic of the group of people performing the act.

Folk Culture

Culture traditionally practiced by a small, homogeneous, rural group living in relative isolation from other groups. Examples: foods, ceremonies, songs


A repetitive act by an particular individual


Regions from which innovative ideas originate.


A policy in which a strong nation seeks to dominate other countries politically, socially, and economically. Control or a region already controlled by another, smaller society Example: British colonists vs. Native Americans

Popular Culture

Culture found in a large, heterogeneous society that shares certain habits despite differences in other personal characteristics. Example: music, TV shows, entertainment


A restriction on behavior imposed by social custom. Example: Jewish people are Kosher


The conribution of a location’s distinctive physical features to the way food tastes


An adoption of the social, political, or economic institutions of Western—especially European or American—countries.

World Language Families

1. Indo-European Family (Example: English) 2. Sino-Tibetan (Example: Mandarin) 3. Afro-Asiatic (Example: Arabic) 4. Austronesian (South Asia) 5. Dravidan (India) 6. Altaic (Asia) 7. Niger-Congo (Africa) 8. Japanese (Example: Japanese)

British Received Pronunciation (BRP)

The dialect of English associated With upper-class Britons living in the London area and now considered standard in the United Kingdom

Creole or Creolized Language

A language that results from the mixing of a colonizer’s language with the indigenous language of the people being dominated.


A regional variety of a language distinguished by vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation.


Dialect spoken by some African Americans

Extinct Language

A language that was once used by people in daily activities but is no longer used. Example: Gothic


A term used by the French for English words that have entered the French language, a combination of francais and anglais." the French words for "French" and "English," respectively.


The system of writing used in China and other East Asian countries in which each symbol represents an idea or concept rather than a specific sound, as is the case with letters in English. (Writing system where a symbol represents an idea/concept/object)

Indo-European Language

Language family including the Germanic and Romance languages that is spoken by 50% of the world’s people. Example: German,English, Spanish


A boundary that separates regions in which different language usages predominate.

Isolated Language

A language that is unrelated to any other languages and therefore not attached to any language family Example:Basque, Icelandic


A system of communication through the use of speech, a collection of sounds understood by a group of people to have the same meaning.

Language Branch

A collection of languages related through a common ancestor that existed several thousand years ago. Differences are not as extensive or old as with language families, and archaeological evidence can confirm that these derived from the same family. Example:Germanic

Language Family

A collection of languages related to each other through a common ancestor long before recorded history. Example: Indo-European

Language Group

A collection of languages within a branch that share a common origin in the relatively recent past and display relatively few differences in grammar and vocabulary. Example: West Germanic

Lingua Franca

A language mutually understood and commonly used in trade by people who have different native languages. Example: The most common is English

Linguistic Diversity

The more different the language, the more different the people that speak them

Literary Tradition

A language that is written as well as spoken


Speaking or writing only one language


Speaking several languages

Official Language

The language adopted for use by the government for the conduct of business and publication of documents.

Pidgin Language

A form of speech that adopts a simplified grammar and limited vocabulary of a lingua franca, used for communications among speakers of two different languages. (Simplified form of a language, 2 people who speak different languages use English to communicate even though it’s neither of their native language)


Combination of Spanish and English, spoken by Hispanic-Americans.

Standard Language

The form of a language used for official government business, education, and mass communications.

Trade Language

A language used between native speakers of different languages to allow them to communicate so that they can trade with each other.

Vulgar Latin

A form of Latin used in daily conversation by ancient Romans, as opposed to the standard dialect, which was used for official documents.

Language Family Tree

1. Language Family (Example: Indo-European) 2. Language Branch (Example: Germanic) 3. Language Group (Example: West Germanic) 4. Language (Example: English)


Belief that objects, such as plants and stones, or natural events, like thunderstorms and earthquakes, have a discrete spirit and conscious life.

Autonomous Religion

A religion that does not have a central authority but shares ideas and cooperates informally. Example: Islam

Branch (of a religion)

A large and fundamental division within a religion. Example: Inside Christianity there is Roman Catholicism, Protestants, and Orthodox


-Practiced in Southeast Asia -Buddha -Suffering of desire -Universalizing Religion


The class or distinct hereditary order into which a Hindu is assigned according to religious law.


-Universalizing Religion -One God -Jesus Christ -"God"


A philosophy that adheres to the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It shows the way to ensure a stable government and an orderly society in the present world and stresses a moral code of conduct.


A set of religious beliefs concerning the origin of the universe


A division of a branch that unites a number of local congregations in a single legal and administrative body.


The basic unit of geographic organization in the Roman Catholic Church

Ethnic Religion

A religion with a relatively concentrated spatial distribution whose principles are likely to be based on the physical characteristics of the particular location in which its adherents are concentrated. Example: Hinduism


A country or part of a country mostly surrounded by the territory of another culture


A country or part of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding alien territory


Literal interpretation and strict adherence to basic principles of a religion (or a religious branch, denomination, or sect). Example: Anti-Gay Marriage Catholics

Geomancy (Feng Shui)

Divination by means of signs connected with the earth (as points taken at random or the arrangement of particles thrown down at random or from the configuration of a region and its relation to another) (Superstitions about how your live your life)


The pilgrimage to Makkah for Islam followers. It’s the fifth of the five pillars of Islam.


During the middle Ages, a neighborhood in a city set up by law to be inhabited only by Jews; now used to denote a section of a city in which members of any minority group live because of social, legal, or economic pressure.

Hierarchical Religion

A religion in which a central authority exercises a high degree of control Example: Pope


A cohesive and unique society, most prevalent in India, that integrates spiritual beliefs with daily practices and official institutions such as the caste system. -Ethnic Religion -Many Gods -Involves the Ganges River in India


A religion based on the teachings of the prophet Mohammed which stresses belief in one god (Allah), Paradise and Hell, and a body of law written in the Quran. Followers are called Muslims. -5 Pillars -Allah -Universalizing Religion -Very self-sufficient


A religion with a belief in one god. It originated with Abraham and the Hebrew people. Yahweh was responsible for the world and everything within it. They preserved their early history in the Old Testament. -Israel

Landscapes of the Dead

The certain areas where people have commonly been buried


An individual who helps to diffuse a universalizing religion. Example: Spanish conquest in Mexico/South America


Belief in one God Example: Christianity


Founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed he was visited by God, and in 1830 he published a document called The Book of Mormon. He said it was a translation of a set of gold tablets he had found in the hills of New York, revealed to him by an angel of God. -Denomination of Christianity -Utah -Strict Rules

Muslim Pilgrimage

If physically and financially able, a Muslim makes a pilgrimage to Makkah at 1 time in their life. (Mecca) They usually make the trip around Ramadan. This pilgrimage is also referred to as Hadj.

Muslim Population

It is the religion of 1.3 billion people in the world. It is the predominant religion of the Middle East from North Africa to Central Asia. Half of the world’s Muslims live in four countries outside the Middle East: Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India.


A follower of a polytheistic religion in ancient times.


A journey to a place considered sacred for religious purposes.


In Hinduism and Buddhism, the process by which a soul is reborn continuously until it achieves perfect understanding. (Being reborn after death)

Religious Architectural Styles

(Architectural elements for a religious building) Christians: early churches modeled after roman basilicas. Muslims: mosques organized around central courtyard. Hindus: temples have small dimly lit interior room where shrines rest, sometimes pool for ritual baths. Buddhists & Shintoists: tall towers in series of tiers, balconies, and slanting roofs

Religious Conflict

Conflicts between religions. -One of these is Israel-Palestine. -Caused possibly by 2 religions in 1 country

Religious Culture Hearth

The place of origin or a religon. Most major religions have come from the Middle East near Israel, but a few have come from India too.

Religious Toponym

A religious place name Example: St. Paul, San Francisco

Sacred Space

A special religious space Example: Burial area


A relatively small group that has broken away from an established denomination


Time when the Sun is farthest from the equator.

Universalizing Religon

A religion that attempts to appeal to all people, not just those living in a particular location. Example: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam

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