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Study Guide for 5 Themes of Geography

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/23/2012

The five themes of geography are used in social studies and history lessons throughout the school year. You need to be familiar with each theme of geography, provide examples of each, and understand its importance.

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    Location

    The 5 Themes of Geography - Definitions and Examples Location of a place is defined according to its latitude and longitude. Latitude lines measure distances north and south of the Equator. Longitude lines measure distances east and west of the Prime Meridian. A place's absolute location is defined with latitude and longitude lines. This is its exact location.

    The geography theme of location can also deal with relative location. Relative location means how a place is related or connected to other places through water, land, or technology.

    For example, the latitude and longitude of London, England is 51 | 32 N; 0 | 5 W

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    Place

    Geographers study this geography theme by looking at the characteristics that distinguish one place from another place on Earth. These physical and human characteristics can be landforms, waterways, people, climate, languages, communication, and transportation.

    For example, a well-known place is Antarctica and the South Pole. What are some of the characteristics that distinguish this place from another cold place? These are the types of questions this theme of geography deals with.

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    Human/Environment Interaction

    Geographers study the way humans interact positively and negatively with their environments. They also study the lasting affects these interactions may have on a place. Some examples of this geography theme are damming a river, polluting the air, building highways or railroads, and even watering lawns and gardens. Human behavior such as planting trees is a positive interaction with the environment where creating landfills is a negative interaction.

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    Movement

    People are always on the move, but this theme of geography is not just about people moving from one place to another in cars and airplanes. Movement also deals with how and why people travel from one place to another. Some people travel for career, others to be close to family, and some move to escape war or religious persecution. One example of movement was pioneers heading West on the Oregon Trail.

    Geographers also study how products and resources are transported from one region or place to another. This includes manufactured products, crops, and oil. For example, a tractor-trailer delivering oranges from Florida to New York, or a boat delivering a shipment of coffee from Africa to Europe.

    In addition, movement of ideas is also studied. With the advent of technology such as the phone and internet, ideas such as fashion, fads, music and philosophical ideologies are exchanged rapidly from all areas of the globe. Languages also evolve and change based on influence from outside ideas and other languages.

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    Regions

    A region is a unit on the earth's surface that has unifying characteristics such as climate or industry. These characteristics may be human, physical, or cultural. Not only do geographers study characteristics, but they also study how regions around the world may change over time.

    Different types of physical regions are deserts, mountains, grasslands, and rain forests. In a city or town, there may be commercial or business regions and then residential regions.

    For example, in the United States, we commonly identify the South as a region. Those states that are located in the south-eastern part of the United States have similar climates and grow similar crops, in addition many people who live there have a "southern" accent. These are characteristics that help unify this area of land that is considered a region.