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1: Introduction

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    • 1.1: The Where and the Why
      What is “geography”? It might seem like a simple enough term to define. In middle school or high school, your answer might have been something to do with the study of maps, of where things were located in the world. In fact, much of primary and secondary school geography is explicitly focused on the where, answering questions like where a particular country is located, what a country’s capital is, and where major landforms are located. Just as simple arithmetic operations form the backbone of ma
    • 1.2: The Spatial Perspective
      At the heart of the spatial perspective is the question of “where,” but there are a number of different ways to answer this question. Relative location refers to the location of a place relative to other places. We commonly use the relative location when giving directions to people. We might instruct them to turn “by the gas station on the corner,” or say that we live “in the house across from the playground.”
    • 1.3: Core and Periphery
      One way of considering the location of places relative to one another is by examining their spatial interaction. In a given region, there is generally a core area, sometimes known as the central business district (CBD) and a hinterland, a German term literally meaning “the land behind” (Figure 1.3.1 ). The hinterland is more sparsely populated than the core and is often where goods sold in the core are manufactured. For example, it might include rural farmland.
    • 1.4: The Physical Setting
      Geographers explore a wide variety of spatial phenomena, but the discipline can roughly be divided into two branches: physical geography and human geography. Physical geography focuses on natural features and processes, such as landforms, climate, and water features. Human geography is concerned with human activity, such as culture, language, and religion. However, these branches are not exclusive. You might be a physical geographer who studies hurricanes, but your research includes the human im
    • 1.5: The Human Setting
      The physical setting of the world’s places has undoubtedly influenced the human setting, just as human activities have shaped the physical landscape. There are currently around 7.4 billion people in the world, but these billions of people are not uniformly distributed. When we consider where people live in the world, we tend to cluster in areas that are warm and are near water and avoid places that are cold and dry. As shown in Figure 1.5.1, there are three major population clusters in the worl
    • 1.6: The World's Regions
      The world can be divided into regions based on human and/or physical characteristics. Regions simply refer to spatial areas that share a common feature. There are three types of regions: formal, functional, and vernacular.
    • 1.7: Sub-Disciplines of Geography
      Geography has two primary branches, physical and human geography, but numerous sub-disciplines. Furthermore, as with world regions, it’s often difficult to make precise boundaries between fields of study. A geographer might be a human geographer who specializes in culture who further specializes in religion. That same geographer might also conduct side research on environmental issues. And she might, in her spare time, investigate geographies of fictional landscapes. Everything happens somewhere
    • 1.8: Globalization and Inequality
      When we start to explore the spatial distribution of economic development, we find that there are stark differences between and within world regions. Some countries have a very high standard of living and high average incomes, while others have few resources and high levels of poverty. Politically, some countries have stable, open governments, while others have long-standing authoritarian regimes. Thus, world regional geography is, in many ways, a study of global inequality.

    1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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