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Social Sci LibreTexts

1.9: Key Terms Defined

  • Page ID
  • Diffusion – spread of ideas, objects, inventions, and other practices from place to place.

    Environmental determinism – the idea that the natural or physical environment shapes and creates cultures; in other words, the environment essentially dictates culture.

    Expansion diffusion – the type of diffusion involves the spread outward from a core area that contains the idea, cultural practice, etc. and can occur from person-to- person contact (as with a contagious disease) or through a hierarchy.

    Formal region – a region defined by homogeneity in one or a number of different characteristics.

    Functional region – a region that is define by a central node or focal point to which other places in the region are connected.

    Geographic information systems – combines computer hardware and software in a system that stores, analyzes and displays geographic data with a “computer mapping” capability in a system of data layers.

    Geography – literally, writing about the Earth; the study of the physical and environmental aspects of the world, from a spatial perspective.

    International Date Line – roughly follows 180o longitude.

    Latitude – the numbering system for parallels.

    Longitude – the numbering system for meridians.

    Meridian – half circles that connect the North and South poles.

    Parallel – circles that encompass the Earth and are parallel to the equator.

    Possibilism – the theory people can adapt to their environmental conditions and choose from many alternatives (possibilities), despite the limitations that the environment pose.

    Prime Meridian – 0o longitude, passes through Greenwich, England.

    Projection – the process of transferring locations from the Earth’s curved surface to a flat map.

    Region – an area that shares some sort of common characteristic that binds the area into a whole.

    Relocation diffusion – the diffusion process in which people migrate or move to a new area, and bring their ideas, objects, and the like with them.

    Remote sensing – acquisition of data about the Earth’s surface from aerial platforms such as satellites, airplanes, or drones.

    Scale – ratio of the length or distance on the map versus the length or distance on the Earth or ground (actual); can also refer to the spatial extent of some phenomenon.

    Site – a way to describe a location; refers to the physical characteristics, such as the topography, vegetative cover, climatic conditions, etc.

    Situation – a way to describe a location by referring to the area surrounding the place, and is sometimes referred to as relative location.

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