Chapter 2: BASICS OF WRG

THE POWER OF PLACE: The World in Spatial Terms

Spatial Analysis looks at patterns in distribution of 
phenomena (e.g., demographics, sales, diseases, 
UFO sightings)


Good maps clearly communicate a theme.

Examples: urban areas   historical map of the U.S.
              flood maps  military

Latitude = x-axis = Parallels

     - East - West lines of latitude that measure 
       distance N or S of Equator
     - 0 degrees = Equator
     - At what latitude does Santa Claus live?
     - "Parallels" because distance between lines 
       of latitude are the same distance; concentric 
       rings between the Equator and the Poles

Longitude = y-axis = Meridians 

     - 0 degrees longitude is Prime Meridian
     - Longitude measures distance 180 degrees 
       west and 180 degrees east
     - meridians converge at poles; thus, not always
       same distance between them

Distance and Direction

     Aside from actual distance, what other factors 
     must be taken into consideration? For example:

Friction of Distance: the relative difficulty of moving from one place to another, which increases with km/miles,cost, or time

Map Scale
LARGE SCALE 1:50,000 features - relatively large more detailed; close-up
SMALL SCALE 1:250,000 features - smaller generalized; larger area shown

It's all relative: 
Small scale - Europe       Small scale - the globe
Large scale - France       Large scale - Africa

Map Projections

     A map projection is an attempt to represent the
     3-D world on a 2-D surface. 

     One by-product of this attempt is referred to as 
    distortion. Unless a map is showing a very small 
     portion of the globe, it has some distortion. 

Mercator Projection 

 Using the Mercator Projection, which appears to be larger in area, 
Greenland or South America? Which is truly larger?

 This map was constructed to make it seem like one is viewing the 
Earth from afar -- note the attempt to make the features appear 
in proper perspective. Compare/ contrast Russia in this projection 
and in the Mercator projection above. 

  There are different ways of presenting information on a 
map. The appropriate choice of symbol, color, shading, border 
delineation and more is an important part of a cartographer's job.
[transparencies: maps]

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 
Remote Sensing

TerraServer:a very interesting site with images from around the 
world, perhaps even your home town! 
ESRI's online demos -- state-of-the-art GIS projects. 
Don't forget USGS and  NASA
Also: go to the "Global Links" page. See "GIS & Remote Sensing."
We will be using GIS and satellite imagery in class for analysis; however, you will not be required to learn how to use the technology. 
[GIS/RS examples]

Distribution, density, and diffusion

Distribution: the spatial spread (i.e., pattern) of 

Examples: Parks and Monuments in the America Southwest
            American Indian languages
            Chernobyl' Radiation Hotspots

Density: the frequency of a phenomenon within a 
     unit of land area;e.g., people per square mile

Global Demography Project World Population Density Map (1995)
Population density map of Africa (1995)
Population density map of Eastern Asia (1995)

Diffusion: the movement of people, objects, diseases,or ideas to new areas (e.g.,migration, contagion,expansion)

Diffusion of Islam map

What are some ways technology has contributed to diffusion?


World population growth

World Population Clock 

 "Rethinking Population at a Global Milestone"
 "A Glimpse Into How the Six Billion Live"
 "Challenges of feeding the world"

Population distribution by growth rate

World population density map  Where are the areas of highest
density? Compare/contrast areas of highest growth with areas of 
highest density. What do you notice of interest?

     Demography: the study of human population in
     terms of numbers, density, growth or decline, 
     migration, and other factors
[population pyramids]
For more information on demography, go to

     Migration: the long-term movement of people
     into or out of a place

Ancient migration routes     Is this "distribution" or "diffusion"?

     Demographic Transition Model

Stage 1, Preindustrial
Stage 2, Transitional
Stage 3, Industrial
Stage 4, Postindustrial
Stage 5, Decline 
Can you name a country to go with each stage?

     Population policies 

China's "One Child Per Couple" Policy 

World Political Geography: Countries and Governments 

Political Geography: the study of how governments influence the human geography of the world and its regions

     Countries: basic political units 
    Nation: an "imagined community" having 
     common cultural features, usually linked to a 
     specific area of land. 

What is the difference between a country and a nation?
Can one country contain more than one nation?
How or why might that occur? What might be the resultant effects? 

    Nationalism: important role in European political development

  unitary: central government controls all
  federal: authority divided between central
       government and subelements, such as 
       regions, states, provinces

     Country Groupings: NATO, ASEAN, WTO, EU,
     NAFTA, APEC ... 

       Centrifugal forces: forces that tend to divide a
     country -- such as internal religious, linguistic, 
     ethnic,or ideological differences
    Centripetal forces: forces that unite and bind a
     country together -- such as a strong national
     culture, shared ideological objectives, and a
     common faith

 What factors might have been key in the breakup of Yugoslavia?
 What factors might be involved in keeping a diverse country such as the U.S.A. together? 

For country-by-country info go to The CIA World Factbook at

World Economic Geography: Wealth, Poverty, and Development

     Economics: the study of the production, 
     distribution and consumption of goods and 
    Capitalism: an economic system in which 
     goods and services are produced and sold by 
     private individuals, corporations, or gov'ts in
     competitive markets. The means of production 
     are owned by those investing capital, to whom 
     workers sell their labor 
    State capitalism: the capitalist economic 
     system in which the gov't, rather than private 
     individuals or corps. controls production and 

     Economic sectors 
    primary: based on raw materials (mining,fishing,
     farming, timber)
    secondary: manufacture (processing of food,
     metals; construction; equipment; clothing) 
    tertiary: service sector (marketing, tourism, 
    quaternary: information (computers,high-tech 
     advances in special sectors, such as 
Which of these occur mainly in the core countries? periphery?

     Global economy: dominance of capitalism 
    Multinational corporations: make goods or 
     provide services in several countries but direct
     operations from HQs in one country 
What would be the advantages to this? What might be some disadvantages?

     Global info services: Internet,telecomms 
Poverty: low income and deprivation of minimally acceptable material requirements; the absence of basic capabilities that enable people to function fully as human beings

    Sustainable Human Development: a level of 
    development in which resources are exploited 
    at a rate that is sustainable for future 

Measurement of Wealth, Poverty, and Economic and Human Development

    Some measurement methods: consumer goods,
    income, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross 
    National Product (GNP)
What might be problematic or inaccurate in using some of these for evaluating certain countries?

    Human Development Index (HDI): a measure of 
     human development based on income, life 
     expectancy, adult literacy, and infant mortality 

    Human Poverty Index (HPI): a measure of human
     poverty, linked to HDI, that indicates levels of 
     personal deprivation 

Interested in poverty and development issues?
United Nations:
United Nations Development Program: (good data source) 
World Bank:
World Trade Organization:
Western View Non-western View
modernization dependency
structural adjustment marginalization
priority of global over local .. dual sectors

         New International Division of Labor

Why is development so important? What is the link between development and poverty? 

      Impact of civil wars, disease, environmental
     stress on human development 

Refugee Camp in Rwanda

Remember Chapter 1 and the quick history of the global order? During Medieval Times (Phase 4), what impact did repeated invasions have on Western Europe? "Western Europe remained disorganized and backward as the result of continuous invasions from the east." (p. 18) Do you see some possible correlation between strife and level of development?

 Cultural Geography and World Regions 

    Culture: the ideas, beliefs, and practices that a
     group of people hold in common, including 
     language, religion, social activities, and the 
     design of products 

          How has colonization affected the migration of languages and religions? 

          Major world religions 
          Religion and society 

         Race: e.g., black, white, Asian
     Ethnicity: e.g., Serb, Croat 
     Class: e.g., Hindu castes:brahmin, untouchable

    Culture Hearth: a small region of the world that
     acted as a catalyst for developments in 
     technology, religion, or language and as a 
     base for their diffusion 

     Cultural "Fault Lines" 

A tragically poignant example

Physical Geography and World Regions: Environmental Variations

Physical Geography: the study of natural environments and their world distribution

    Natural processes
       Earth's interior
       erosion and weathering
       living organisms


          Earth strives for a net energy balance of zero 
      Excess heat in the tropics --> toward poles 
      Cold at poles ---> toward the Equator 

Sea Surface Temperature

    convection: warm air rises--> condensation--> 
     cloud formation -->precipitation 
     orographic precipitation: associated with 
     mountains; rain shadow effect 

     World Climatic Environments
     Tropical: year-long high temps,may vary in 
       rainfall; N<-->S distribution; convection
      Midlatitudes: seasonal temp. contrasts; 
       W<-->E distribution; frontal systems 
      Polar: year-long cold

     Climate change: global temperature changes
      over tens of thousands of years (ice ages)

          Tectonic Plates


 USGS plate tectonics link 

      Surface Changes 
      Weathering: the action of atmospheric forces
      (through water circulation and temp. changes) 
      on rocks at Earth's surface; breaks rocks into 
      fragments, particles, and dissolved chemicals 
      Erosion: the wearing away of rocks at Earth's 
      surface by running water, moving ice, wind,
      and sea to form valleys, cliffs and other 
      Deposition: the dropping of particles of rocks 
      carried by rivers, wind, or glaciers

     Ecosystem: the total environment of a 
      community of plants and animals, including 
      heat, light, and nutrient supplies
     Biome: a world-scale ecosystem type

What seems to be the relationship between climate types and natural vegetation zones?  What patterns do you notice? 
 Bradshaw biomes: desert
forest  polar 
 grassland  ocean 

HUMAN IMPACTS (anthropogenic)
     farming (forest depletion,erosion) 
     Industrial Revolution 
        increased rate, scale of human intervention 
        commercial crops 
        population --> demands on resources
      global warming 
      ozone hole 

What kinds of energy are renewable? Non-renewable? 

How many people can Earth support?
     Thomas Malthus
     Carrying capacity - depends on many factors

Landscapes and Regional Geography 

    Landscape: a total regional environment; a 
     cultural interpretation of interactions between 
     natural environments and human history