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Geography Worksheets, Lesson Plans, Printables
Foster global awareness in your class with U.S. and world geography printables, lessons, and references. Teach students about oceans and landforms with science activities and mapping resources. There are plenty of crossword puzzles and quizzes to test your students' knowledge of the earth's surface. Map and geography skills may be used in many subject areas including language arts, math, and history. These social studies resources can enhance any curriculum for kindergarten through twelfth grade.
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Printables for Grades K-5
Build your students map reading and identification skills with these various activities that cover maps of the entire world. These visual representations of parts of the world will help your students discover without having to leave the classroom! These resources are geared toward grades K-5.
- U.S. Map with State Capitals
- Find the Continents and Oceans
- United States Map (Outline)
- Outline Map of Asia
- World Map (Black and White)
- Africa Mapping Activity
- Map of Southeast United States
- More Popular Geography Printables
Printables for Grades 6-8
Go deeper with your study with these printable maps of different parts of the world. Whether you are completing a comprehensive study of the United States or another country, or you just want to focus on a particular subsection, these worksheets will help students in the moment during your lessons as well as a resource to study for their quizzes as well.
- Geography Quiz: State Capitals
- Map of Midwest United States
- Map of Northeast United States
Printables for Grades 9-12
Use these resources for a general study of different countries or modify them to target a specific historical period or political movement that you want to focus on with your students. These maps can be a useful resource or study guide as students move toward learning more higher order concepts and retaining more historical information throughout the upper grades.
- Map of North America
- Political Map of Europe
- Geography Quiz: True or False
Use these comprehensive lesson plans to fully develop an individual, geographical concepts, or historical periods of time that you want to focus on with your students. Within each lesson, you will be guided on how to complete the lesson with students as well as provided different questions, discussions, or activities to help students deeply understand the topic under study.
- PowerPoint Postcards Presentation
- Latitude and Longitude
- Chart Columbus's Voyages
- Australia Poster
- Pilgrim Unit (7 lessons)
- What Are the Modern Olympic Games?
- Map Making, Floor Plans & Map Reading
- More Popular Geography Lesson Plans
Printable Geography Quizzes
Tired of making your own geography quizzes? Who says you have to? Review the different quizzes in this section to use as the perfect complement to your lessons and activities. You can use these quizzes as is or can modify them to better meet your teaching style or the needs of your classroom.
- Quiz: Southeast United States
- Quiz: Southwest U.S. State Capitals
- Quiz: The United States: West Region
- Quiz: Western U.S. State Capitals
- More Printable Geography Quizzes
Maps and Globes Resources
Use these printable map outlines or review the Practicing Map Skills activity to help your students learn about the different geographic features of various places around the world. These maps can be used again and again and are great resources to help student keep track of the constantly changing world.
- Practicing Map Skills
- Map of U.S. Regions
- Map Library
- More Popular Maps and Globes Resources
Geography Games & Puzzles
Need an interactive game to help reinforce your students' understanding of a geographical unit? This section is the one for you. Whether you want to teach students initial map skills by creating your own map of your classroom, or help them remember the different features that can be used when viewing a map, these printable games will make learning fun for your students.
- Find the State
- A Geography Wordsearch
- Magnificent Maps: Neighborhood Map
- Globe Wordsearch
- Name That Country
- Magnificent Maps: Classroom Map
- Magnificent Maps: Community Map
- More Geography Games & Puzzles
Technology Resources for Geography
Build your students inquiry, research, and discussion skills with these geographical technology resources. In this section, students will be responsible for investigating the world's wonders and reporting on their findings.
- Wonders of the World Questions
- Wonders of the World
- Researching Our National Parks
- Fantasy Vacation
- How Far Is It?
- More Technology Resources for Geography
U.S. Geography Resources
Use these printable maps to teach a comprehensive study of the geographical makeup of the United States. Students can keep these maps as study tools when looking back on a full year's study of the U.S. or just as a quick reference during a topic or concept.
- Map of Western United States
- Map of Southwest United States
- United States Maps Gallery
- Map Library of the United States
- More Popular U.S. Geography Resources
World Geography Resources
Use these printable maps to teach a comprehensive study of the geographical makeup of the the world. Students can keep these maps as study tools when looking back on a full year's study of the world. or just as a quick reference during a topic or concept.
- World Geography Glossary
- Longest Street in the World
- World Maps Gallery
- Sailing Around the World
- Mountains of the World Quiz
- More Popular World Geography Resources
Political Geography Resources
Help your students keep track of all the political affiliations during different historical periods with these resources. In this section, you can use printable maps, interactive books and slideshows, or just reinforce their understanding of geographical topic with various quizzes.
- Map Library of the World
- Maps & Activities Printables Slideshow
- Maps & Activities Printable Book (Grades 4-12)
- Continents of the World
- Capitals of the World Quiz
- Major Cities and Rivers in Russia
- Mason and Dixon's Line
- More Political Geography Resources
Looking to build your geographical resource library? This section can provide you a wealth of resources ranging from lesson plans, various charts and maps, or just some fun information or facts on the different parts of the world.
- Origin of U.S. State Names
- Oceans and Seas
- Just Where Was Columbus?
- Languages by Country
- Columbus's Voyages
- Fifty Fun Facts About the Fifty U.S. States
- State Capitals and Largest Cities for Each State
- More Popular Geography References
Geography Skill Builders
Uses these Skill Builder guides to help students learn research skills and discover fun facts about geography. Each guide divides into different activities according to your individual classrooms grade level so it can be a resource that you use for any classroom. It also is completed weekly so this be a great compliment to your daily lessons, review sessions, or even as homework activities for your students.
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 1
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 2
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 3
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 4
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 9
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 20
- Skill Builders: Geography Challenge Questions, Week 28
- More Geography Skill Builders
Geography Resources for History Class
Use these resources to help students learn about the geography from different historical periods or important events. In this section, you have access to different lesson plans, printable maps, interactive activities, and classroom guides for discussions. These resources can be kept as is or can be modified to be better for your individual teaching style or classroom needs.
- Mapping the War: World War II
- German Nazi Takeover: 1933-1944
- Countries Quiz
- Triangular Trade in the Atlantic Ocean
- More Popular Geography Resources for History Class
Earth Science & Geography Connected
Planning a cross-curricular study with your fellow teachers? Or just trying to help students understand how geography is formed? This section will provide you for a little bit of both! In this section, you have access to different comprehension resources that outline the causes and effects of natural disasters and how that has developed the geography from the past to today.
- Ocean Pollution
- What's the Solution to Ocean Pollution?
- Chart of the Water Cycle
- Time Zones Around the World
- Weather Words
- Plate Tectonics Test
- More Popular Geography Activities for Earth Science Class
Math & Geography Connected
Planning a cross-curricular study with the other teachers in various content areas? Or just trying to help students understand map reading and geography skills? This section will help you prepare for any objective or goal you have for your students. Use the different printable maps, lesson plans, or graphic organizers to build students comprehension and map-reading skills by focusing on topics such as time zones and latitude and longitude.
- Coordinate Grids (Gr. 3)
- Time Zones in the U.S.
- Making Choices: Decision Making (Gr. 6)
- Reading a Map
- Colorful World Map
- Map of the United States
- More Popular Geography Activities for Math Class
Language Arts & Geography Connected
Build your students reading comprehension and map reading skills with these different activities. In this section, students connect their understanding of different geographic features with their own previous knowledge and experiences. Each resource is a perfect complement to any part of your lesson, as a resource for students to use to remember key concepts, or as supplemental work to assess student understanding.
- Read the Map
- Geography Reading Warm-Up: Rainforests
- State Scavenger Hunt
- The Oceans of the World
- Matching Animal Habitats
- Mount Everest Timeline
- More Popular Language Arts Activities for Geography
Art Activities for Geography
Use these activities to add an artistic spin to learning geography. Students can create their own geographical tools, create cultural artifacts of individuals from a different country, or design different geographic maps of countries around the world. These activities can be used as is or modified to better suit the needs of students in your classroom.
- Compass Rose
- Maps and Globes Book
- Kente Cloth
- Dora the Explorer Map (English)
- A Bedroom Map
- More Art Activities for Geography
Earth Day Activities
Build your students understanding of this important day with different resources that highlights the importance of taking care of our Earth. In this section, students can review the different economic resources that are pivotal to human survival, the different ways we take care of resources, and much more!
- Geographical Highs, Lows, and Boundaries of the U.S.
- Science, Technology, and Society: Clean Machine
- National Park System of the United States
- Rivers of the United States
- Glaciers: Ice That Flows
- Economic Resources
- National Scenic Trails
- More Earth Day Teacher Resources
Wildlife Week Resources
Use these literature/teacher guides to review with students the different types of wildlife that live in various places around the world. These guides can compliment any content area and will help your students improve their reading comprehension and geography skills. Use them as is or adapt them to best fit your classroom.
- On the Far Side of the Mountain
- Kingfisher Knowledge Guide: Dangerous Creatures Teacher's Guide
- Columbus Day Activities
Use these lessons or activities in this section to help students learn about Christopher Columbus's voyage and exploration of America. These activities can be kept as is or modified to fit your individual teaching style or the needs of your students.
- More Columbus Day Teacher Resources
Native American Resources
Help students understand that studying geography means studying the individuals that live in those different regions as well. By reviewing the lives and culture of Native Americans, students can connect their geographical skills to deeper higher order thinking ones
- Native American Life on the Great Plains
- Native American Tribes of the Great Plains
- More American Indians & Native Americans - Teacher Resources
Voyages & Travels Resources
Use these different resources with your students to discuss the concepts of voyages and traveling. In this section are different visual maps, lesson plans, reading comprehension activities, and much more! These activities can be used in their current form or modified to better serve the needs of your classroom.
- First Hot-Air Balloon Flight
- Planning for the Voyage - Pilgrim Study Unit (Lesson 1 of 7)
- Historical Fiction Reading Warm-Up: The Christmas Gift
- Seeing the World Sub Kit (Grades 7-8)
- Peary, Henson, and the North Pole
- More Popular Voyages & Travel Resources
Need some inspiration for teaching your students about the Earth's oceans? Well look no further! Whether it's full comprehensive lesson plans, printable map activities, game worksheets, or resource guides for geographical features, this is the section for you. These activities are great as they are or can be adapted to the characteristics of your classroom.
- Earth's Oceans
- An Ocean Adventure Sub Kit (Grades 3-4)
- What Are Ocean Currents?
- Modeling Climates
- Length of the U.S. Coastline by State
- Word Search: The World's Oceans
- Crossing the Atlantic by Rowboat
- More Oceans Teacher Resources
More than 400 free map quiz games in more than 40 languages
Learn geography the easy way.
Learning geography doesn't have to be boring. Do it the easy way with Seterra! In no time, you could learn to locate every single country in the world on a map.
Seterra includes fun quizzes that help familiarize you with countries, capital cities, flags, rivers, lakes, and notable geological features.
The Ultimate Map Quiz Site!
Nine different game modes in Seterra Online challenge you in different ways to help you retain information and keep things interesting. Also, Seterra Online has a Voice feature that lets you listen to how the place names are pronounced.
Seterra currently has more than three million unique visitors each month and growing! It is available in more than 40 languages and works with Mac and Windows, as well as on iOS and Android devices.
All map quizzes are customizable, so that you can select only the locations you want to be quizzed on. Custom quizzes can easily be shared with your friends or students. Read more about custom quizzes.
The United States
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona... learn to pinpoint all 50 US states and their capitals and major cities on a map!
North & Central America
The US and Canada are easy to find on a blank map, but what about Guatemala and Belize? Practice here!
Learn to find Brazil, Chile and Venezuela and all the other countries in South America on an outline map.
France and Germany, Czechia, Montenegro and Andorra. Learn to find them all in our geography games!
Learn to locate the countries and capitals, but also the administrative divisions of China, India and Russia.
Nigeria and Kenya, South Africa, Algeria and Morocco. Learn to find them all in our Africa map quizzes!
Australia & Oceania
Learn about Australia, New Zealand and all the tiny states of Oceania!
Here you can find our ultimate map game: all 193 UN member states in a single quiz!
Anatomy & Science
Learn more about the human body in our anatomy quizzes!
Seterra becomes a part of
GeoGuessr is a game where you get to discover the world and test your ability to figure out where you are.
As part of the journey towards our vision to make everyone discover how fun it is to explore the world, Seterra has now become a part of GeoGuessr. GeoGuessr will continue to develop and improve Seterra. Initially, Seterra will work just as before, but we intend to launch a number of improvements and new fantastic geography games, exercises and quizzes.
Discover the world at www.geoguessr.com and www.geoguessr.com/seterra
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The Seterra app is available in more than 15 languages (Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish), and offers all the most popular quizzes from the online version. Play offline and use the high score lists to track your progress!
Testimonials, great homeschool study tool.
Just have to say that Seterra is probably the greatest geography learning tool of all time . My 9th grade daughter decided to try it last summer. In two days she was able to do every country in the world, and she had fun doing it . AMAZING! This year I have my whole homeschool group practicing Seterra at home and then having playoffs at my house every week. Thank you Seterra!"
Kids and Adults Love Seterra!
"Students love Seterra ! By the end of the school year nearly all 140+ of my students could correctly find and name every country in the world on a blank map, something they all took great pride in. They thought Seterra was great fun and had a blast racing to finish a quiz. The best learning is when something is fun, and this fits the bill. I can’t say it enough; Kids and adults love Seterra!"
Learn about the game modes on the website..
Learn how to create a custom quiz.
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10 Free Geography Worksheets to Explore the World
If you love geography, then you’re going to love these simple and free geography worksheets .
What I love about geography is how it gives you a unique overarching perspective of the world.
For example, you can study anything from traveling, cultures, and Earth science. Indeed, you can piece together the world.
And with this collection of geography worksheets, you can piece together an incredible geography lesson plan.
1. Flag Quiz
Every country has a flag to proudly represent. From simple flags like Japan and the United States. All the way to more challenging flags like Cambodia and Swaziland.
Can you identify the flags of the world in the flags quiz?
2. Know Your Oceans
Now, there are 5 oceans in the world. But we only used to recognize just 4 oceans. Actually, throughout history, the number of oceans has changed significantly.
Can you list our current ocean names in the ocean worksheet below?
3. Country Outlines
I love geography. Who doesn’t? Match the country with its outline, then draw a country. How close are you to the real thing?
One of my brightest students always loved drawing country outlines for fun so I dedicate this one to him.
4. Blank Maps
Add color for each country in this blank South America map. In the legend, match the color with the color you add in the empty map.
Here’s an additional 7 printable blank maps for geography worksheets.
5. Ecosystems Worksheet
Deserts, rain forests, and tundras are types of ecosystems. In this geography activity, you match the word with each type of landscape.
From deserts to tundras, students learn the types of landscapes we have. Can you think of any more types of ecosystems that aren’t in the worksheet?
6. Metropolis Markdown
Do you know where the largest cities are in the Americas? Write the number for each city on the map.
Similar to pin the tail on the donkey (without the blindfold), how close are you to the actual location of the city?
7. Weather Types for Kids
How was the weather in your city the last 3 days? What is the weather typically in your city?
Finally, what is the weather typically for each month and season? How about weather patterns for different continents and ecosystems?
8. World Monuments Quiz
In this famous landmarks quiz, students have to connect the dot for each historical world monument and the country outline.
After this activity, can you recognize the monument and country outline?
9. Capitals Crossword Puzzle
Instead of a capital quiz, this capital cities crossword puzzle helps you learn geography in an interesting way.
Solve the capital cities crossword puzzle by entering horizontal and vertical entries as the country’s capital.
10. Continents Spelling
Can you spell all the continents of the world? Because in this continents worksheet, you untangle each continent with the help of the number on the map.
Reorder the letters to spell the continents and check if you can spell each continent correctly.
These free geography worksheets are free to use for your classes.
Now, you can study the world and have fun doing it.
What are some geography activities you like to do in your classroom?
Please let me know by adding a comment below.
Great worksheets for my bilingual class in Germany. Thank you.
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Know Your Oceans
Free printable world map worksheet activities
World map worksheet activities.
These free map handouts are beneficial for any classes on the topics of countries, the world, and geography. Students enjoy these hands on craft activities and they really help them think more and retain the information they are learning.
The first blank map above can be used for any purpose but here it is part of a colouring and labeling project. To do this exercise you will also need 1 copy of the document below for each student.
You could do without the second worksheet and give your own instructions verbally on how to colour and what to write on the map. Younger students however, get into whole cut and paste tasks so it is worthwhile using it for early primary school aged students and below.
If you want to take this exercise even further you can also use the animals to cut and past from the animals world map activity.
World map labeling activity
This worksheet has the colouring instructions for each of the 7 continents – North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. It also has the continents and oceans lables to cut and paste onto the world map worksheet.
Animals world map worksheet activity
This is a fun project where students must put animals correctly where they live on the world map. It not only helps teach continents but wildlife as well!
You may need to help lower-level students identify some of the animals and show them where they live. Some animals can live on several continents so try to get your class to spread the beasts evenly over the map to avoid cluttered landmasses.
Once they have finished they can practice speaking by forming sentences such as – “A gorilla lives in Africa”, or “Penguins live in Antarctica” and so on.
The 24 animals to be cut and pasted here from left to right are –
deer, elephant, swan, monkey, zebra, polar bear, owl, raccoon, parrot (macaw), rabbit, lion, gorilla, sloth, stork, giraffe, squirrel, camel, goat, dolphin, fox, penguin, koala, crocodile, and kangaroo.
Blank world map printables
Here are some blank world map printables that may be useful for any other activities or ideas you have. There is a blank map with continent outlines that is useful for colouring or pretty much anything else. The second map has country borders but no labels. You can use it to get students to write country names or colour specific countries. The third map is lightly coloured in case you need a more lively map to work with.
You might also like these
5 Free printable clock faces (PDF)
Free printable dinosaur footprints and tracks (16 PDFs)
Beautiful forest animal diorama printables
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1.1 Geography Basics
- Understand the focus of geography and the two main branches of the discipline.
- Learn about the tools geographers use to study the earth’s surface.
- Summarize the grid system of latitude and longitude and how it relates to seasons and time zones.
- Distinguish between the different types of regional distinctions recognized in geography.
- Understand the spatial nature of geography and how each place or region is examined, analyzed, and compared with other places or regions.
- Determine the basic geographic realms and their locations.
What Is Geography?
Geography is the spatial study of the earth’s surface (from the Greek geo , which means “Earth,” and graphein , which means “to write”). Geographers study the earth’s physical characteristics, its inhabitants and cultures, phenomena such as climate, and the earth’s place within the universe. Geography examines the spatial relationships between all physical and cultural phenomena in the world. Geographers also look at how the earth, its climate, and its landscapes are changing due to cultural intervention.
The first known use of the word geography was by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (modern-day Libya in North Africa), an early Greek scholar who lived between 276 and 194 BCE. He devised one of the first systems of longitude and latitude and calculated the earth’s circumference. Additionally, he created one of the first maps of the world based on the available knowledge of the time. Around the same time, many ancient cultures in China, southern Asia, Polynesia, and the Arabian Peninsula also developed maps and navigation systems used in geography and cartography.
The discipline of geography can be broken down into two main areas of focus: physical geography and human geography . These two main areas are similar in that they both use a spatial perspective, and they both include the study of place and the comparison of one place with another.
Physical geography is the spatial study of natural phenomena that make up the environment, such as rivers, mountains, landforms, weather, climate, soils, plants, and any other physical aspects of the earth’s surface. Physical geography focuses on geography as a form of earth science. It tends to emphasize the main physical parts of the earth—the lithosphere (surface layer), the atmosphere (air), the hydrosphere (water), and the biosphere (living organisms)—and the relationships between these parts.
The major forms of study within physical geography include the following:
- Geomorphology (the study of the earth’s surface features)
- Glaciology (the study of glaciers)
- Coastal geography (the study of the coastal regions)
- Climatology (the study of climates and climate change)
- Biogeography (the study of the geographic patterns of species distribution)
Some physical geographers study the earth’s place in the solar system. Others are environmental geographers, part of an emerging field that studies the spatial aspects and cultural perceptions of the natural environment. Environmental geography requires an understanding of both physical and human geography, as well as an understanding of how humans conceptualize their environment and the physical landscape.
Physical landscape is the term used to describe the natural terrain at any one place on the planet. The natural forces of erosion, weather, tectonic plate action, and water have formed the earth’s physical features. Many US state and national parks attempt to preserve unique physical landscapes for the public to enjoy, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.
Human geography is the study of human activity and its relationship to the earth’s surface. Human geographers examine the spatial distribution of human populations, religions, languages, ethnicities, political systems, economics, urban dynamics, and other components of human activity. They study patterns of interaction between human cultures and various environments and focus on the causes and consequences of human settlement and distribution over the landscape. While the economic and cultural aspects of humanity are primary focuses of human geography, these aspects cannot be understood without describing the landscape on which economic and cultural activities take place.
The cultural landscape is the term used to describe those parts of the earth’s surface that have been altered or created by humans. For example, the urban cultural landscape of a city may include buildings, streets, signs, parking lots, or vehicles, while the rural cultural landscape may include fields, orchards, fences, barns, or farmsteads. Cultural forces unique to a given place—such as religion, language, ethnicity, customs, or heritage—influence the cultural landscape of that place at a given time. The colors, sizes, and shapes of the cultural landscape usually symbolize some level of significance regarding societal norms. Spatial dynamics assist in identifying and evaluating cultural differences between places.
Traditionally, the field of cartography , or map making, has been a vital discipline for geographers. While cartography continues to be an extremely important part of geography, geographers also look at spatial (space) and temporal (time) relationships between many types of data, including physical landscape types, economies, and human activity. Geography also examines the relationships between and the processes of humans and their physical and cultural environments. Because maps are powerful graphic tools that allow us to illustrate relationships and processes at work in the world, cartography and geographic information systems have become important in modern sciences. Maps are the most common method of illustrating different spatial qualities, and geographers create and use maps to communicate spatial data about the earth’s surface.
Geospatial techniques are tools used by geographers to illustrate, manage, and manipulate spatial data. Cartography is the art and science of making maps, which illustrate data in a spatial form and are invaluable in understanding what is going on at a given place at a given time.
Making maps and verifying a location have become more exact with the development of the global positioning system (GPS) . A GPS unit can receive signals from orbiting satellites and calculate an exact location in latitude and longitude, which is helpful for determining where one is located on the earth or for verifying a point on a map. GPS units are standard equipment for many transportation systems and have found their way into products such as cell phones, handheld computers, fish finders, and other mobile equipment. GPS technology is widely implemented in the transport of people, goods, and services around the world.
Remote sensing technology acquires data about the earth’s surface through aerial photographs taken from airplanes or images created from satellites orbiting the earth. Remotely sensed images allow geographers to identify, understand, or explain a particular landscape or determine the land use of a place. These images can serve as important components in the cartographic (map-making) process. These technologies provide the means to examine and analyze changes on the earth’s surface caused by natural or human forces. Google Earth is an excellent example of a computer tool that illustrates remotely sensed images of locations on the earth.
Figure 1.1 Low Elevation Air Photo of Cultural Landscape in Morehead, Kentucky
Photo by R. Berglee – CC BY-NC-SA.
Geographic information science (GIS) , often referred to as geographic information systems, uses a computer program to assimilate and manage many layers of map data, which then provide specific information about a given place. GIS data are usually in digital form and arranged in layers. The GIS computer program can sort or analyze layers of data to illustrate a specific feature or activity. GIS programs are used in a wide range of applications, from determining the habitat range of a particular species of bird to mapping the hometowns of university students.
Figure 1.2 Illustration of Layers in a GIS Process
GIS specialists often create and analyze geographical information for government agencies or private businesses. They use computer programs to take raw data to develop the information these organizations need for making vital decisions. For example, in business applications, GIS can be used to determine a favorable location for a retail store based on the analysis of spatial data layers such as population distribution, highway or street arrangements, and the locations of similar stores or competitive establishments. GIS can integrate a number of maps into one to help analysts understand a place in relation to their own specific needs.
GIS also focuses on storing information about the earth (both cultural and natural) in computer databases that can be retrieved and displayed in the form of specialized maps for specific purposes or analyses. GIS specialists require knowledge about computer and database systems. Over the last two decades, GIS has revolutionized the field of cartography: nearly all cartography is now done with the assistance of GIS software. Additionally, analysis of various cultural and natural phenomena through the use of GIS software and specialized maps is an important part of urban planning and other social and physical sciences. GIS can also refer to techniques used to represent, analyze, and predict spatial relationships between different phenomena.
Geography is a much broader field than many people realize. Most people think of area studies as the whole of geography. In reality, geography is the study of the earth, including how human activity has changed it. Geography involves studies that are much broader than simply understanding the shape of the earth’s landforms. Physical geography involves all the planet’s physical systems. Human geography incorporates studies of human culture, spatial relationships, interactions between humans and the environment, and many other areas of research that involve the different subspecialties of geography. Students interested in a career in geography would be well served to learn geospatial techniques and gain skills and experience in GIS and remote sensing, as they are the areas within geography where employment opportunities have grown the most over the past few decades.
The Earth and Graticule Location
When identifying a region or location on the earth, the first step is to understand its relative and absolute locations. Relative location is the location on the earth’s surface with reference to other places, taking into consideration features such as transportation access or terrain. Relative location helps one compare the advantages of one location with those of another. Absolute location , on the other hand, refers to an exact point on the earth’s surface without regard to how that point is related to any other place. Absolute location is vital to the cartographic process and to human activities that require an agreed-upon method of identifying a place or point.
Just as you were taught in geometry that there are 360 degrees in a circle or a sphere, the earth also has 360 degrees, and they are measured using a grid pattern called the graticule . Lines of latitude and longitude allow any absolute location on the earth to have an identifiable address of degrees north or south and east or west, which allows geographers to accurately locate, measure, and study spatial activity.
Geographers and cartographers organize locations on the earth using a series of imaginary lines that encircle the globe. The two primary lines are the equator and the prime meridian. From these lines, the systems of longitude and latitude are formed, allowing you to locate yourself anywhere on the planet. The line is the longest when you travel along in an east-west direction. At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on the two equinoxes, which occur in March and September.
Figure 1.3 Basic Lines of Longitude and Latitude
Parallels or Lines of Latitude
Figure 1.4 Noted Lines of Latitude
The equator is the largest circle of latitude on Earth. The equator divides the earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and is called 0 degrees latitude. The other lines of latitude are numbered from 0 to 90 degrees going toward each of the poles. The lines north of the equator toward the North Pole are north latitude, and each of the numbers is followed by the letter “N.” The lines south of the equator toward the South Pole are south latitude, and each of the numbers is followed by the letter “S.” The equator (0 latitude) is the only line of latitude without any letter following the number. Notice that all lines of latitude are parallel to the equator (they are often called parallels) and that the North Pole equals 90 degrees N and the South Pole equals 90 degrees S. Noted parallels include both the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, which are 23.5 degrees from the equator. At 66.5 degrees from the equator are the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle near the North and South Pole, respectively.
Meridians or Lines of Longitude
The prime meridian sits at 0 degrees longitude and divides the earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The prime meridian is defined as an imaginary line that runs through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, a suburb of London. The Eastern Hemisphere includes the continents of Europe, Asia, and Australia, while the Western Hemisphere includes North and South America. All meridians (lines of longitude) east of the prime meridian (0 and 180) are numbered from 1 to 180 degrees east (E); the lines west of the prime meridian (0 and 180) are numbered from 1 to 180 degrees west (W). The 0 and 180 lines do not have a letter attached to them. The meridian at 180 degrees is called the International Date Line . The International Date Line (180 degrees longitude) is opposite the prime meridian and indicates the start of each day (Monday, Tuesday, etc.). Each day officially starts at 12:01 a.m., at the International Date Line. Do not confuse the International Date Line with the prime meridian (0 longitude). The actual International Date Line does not follow the 180-degree meridian exactly. A number of alterations have been made to the International Date Line to accommodate political agreements to include an island or country on one side of the line or another.
Climate and Latitude
The earth is tilted on its axis 23.5 degrees. As it rotates around the sun, the tilt of the earth’s axis provides different climatic seasons because of the variations in the angle of direct sunlight on the planet. Places receiving more direct sunlight experience a warmer climate. Elsewhere, the increased angle of incoming solar radiation near the earth’s poles results in more reflected sunlight and thus a cooler climate. The Northern Hemisphere experiences winter when sunlight is reflected off the earth’s surface and less of the sun’s energy is absorbed because of a sharper angle from the sun.
The Tropic of Cancer is the parallel at 23.5 degrees north of the equator, which is the most northerly place on Earth, receiving direct sunlight during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Remember that the earth is tilted 23.5 degrees, which accounts for seasonal variations in climate. The Tropic of Capricorn is the parallel at 23.5 degrees south of the equator and is the most southerly location on Earth, receiving direct sunlight during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.
The tropics (Cancer and Capricorn) are the two imaginary lines directly above which the sun shines on the two solstices , which occur on or near June 20 or 21 (summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere) and December 21 or 22 (winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer at noon on June 20 or 21, marking the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn at noon on December 21 or 22, marking the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Solstices are the extreme ends of the seasons, when the line of direct sunlight is either the farthest north or the farthest south that it ever goes. The region between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn is known as the tropics. This area does not experience dramatic seasonal changes because the amount of direct sunlight received does not vary widely. The higher latitudes (north of the Tropic of Cancer and south of the Tropic of Capricorn) experience significant seasonal variation in climate.
Figure 1.5 Road Sign South of Dakhla, Western Sahara (Claimed by Morocco), Marking the Tropic of Cancer
This sign was placed in this desert location by the Budapest-Bamako rally participants. The non-English portion is in Hungarian because of the European participants in the race.
Wikimedia Commons – public domain.
The Arctic Circle is a line of latitude at 66.5 degrees north. It is the farthest point north that receives sunlight during its winter season (90 N − 23.5 = 66.5 N). During winter, the North Pole is away from the sun and does not receive much sunlight. At times, it is dark for most of the twenty-four-hour day. During the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, the North Pole faces more toward the sun and may receive sunlight for longer portions of the twenty-four-hour day. The Antarctic Circle is the corresponding line of latitude at 66.5 degrees south. It is the farthest location south that receives sunlight during the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere (90 S − 23.5 = 66.5 S). When it is winter in the north, it is summer in the south.
The Arctic and Antarctic Circles mark the extremities (southern and northern, respectively) of the polar day (twenty-four-hour sunlit day) and the polar night (twenty-four-hour sunless night). North of the Arctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for twenty-four continuous hours at least once per year and below the horizon for twenty-four continuous hours at least once per year. This is true also near the Antarctic Circle, but it occurs south of the Antarctic Circle, toward the South Pole. Equinoxes , when the line of direct sunlight hits the equator and days and nights are of equal length, occur in the spring and fall on or around March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23.
Figure 1.6 Graphic of the Four Seasons
Universal Time (UT), Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), or Zulu Time (Z): all four terms can be defined as local time at 0 degrees longitude, which is the prime meridian (location of Greenwich, England). This is the same time under which many military operations, international radio broadcasts, and air traffic control systems operate worldwide. UTC is set in zero- to twenty-four-hour time periods, as opposed to two twelve-hour time periods (a.m. and p.m.). The designations of a.m. and p.m. are relative to the central meridian: a.m. refers to ante meridiem , or “before noon,” and p.m. refers to post meridiem , or “after noon.” UT, UTC, GMT, and Z all refer to the same twenty-four-hour time system that assists in unifying a common time in regard to global operations. For example, all air flights use the twenty-four-hour time system so the pilots can coordinate flights across time zones and around the world.
The earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours at the rate of 15 degrees per hour (15 × 24 = 360). Time zones are established roughly every 15 degrees longitude so that local times correspond to similar hours of day and night. With this system, the sun is generally overhead at noon in every time zone that follows the 15-degree-wide system. The continental United States has four main time zones (see Table 1.1 “Four Main Time Zones in the Continental United States and Their Central Meridians” and Figure 1.7 “Major Time Zones of the World” ).
Table 1.1 Four Main Time Zones in the Continental United States and Their Central Meridians
Figure 1.7 Major Time Zones of the World
The twenty-four times zones are based on the prime meridian in regard to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), or Zulu Time (Z), which all operate on the twenty-four-hour time clock. Local time zones are either plus or minus determined by the distance from the prime meridian.
Figure 1.8 Diagram Illustrating the Width of a Time Zone
In this diagram, 75 W is the central meridian for the eastern standard time zone in the United States.
The eastern standard time zone is five hours earlier than the time at the prime meridian (UTC) because it is about 75 degrees west of 0 degrees (5 × 15 = 75). For example, if it is noon in London, then it is 7 a.m. in New York. If it is 1 p.m. in New York, it is 10 a.m. in San Francisco, which is three times zones to the west. Since there are twenty-four hours in a day, there are twenty-four time zones on Earth. Each time zone is 15 degrees wide.
A problem with the 15-degree time zones is that the zones do not necessarily follow state, regional, or local boundaries. The result is that time zones are seldom exactly 15 degrees wide and usually have varied boundary lines. In the United States, the boundaries between the different time zones are inconsistent with the lines of longitude; in some cases, time zones zigzag to follow state lines or to keep cities within a single time zone. Other countries address the problem differently. China, for example, is as large in land area as the United States yet operates on only one time zone for the entire country.
Regions in Geography
A region is a basic unit of study in geography—a unit of space characterized by a feature such as a common government, language, political situation, or landform. A region can be a formal country governed by political boundaries, such as France or Canada; a region can be defined by a landform, such as the drainage basin of all the water that flows into the Mississippi River; and a region can even be defined by the area served by a shopping mall. Cultural regions can be defined by similarities in human activities, traditions, or cultural attributes. Geographers use the regional unit to map features of particular interest, and data can be compared between regions to help understand trends, identify patterns, or assist in explaining a particular phenomenon.
Regions are traditionally defined by internal characteristics that provide a sense of place. Their boundaries vary with the type of region, whether it is formal, functional, or vernacular; each type has its own meaning and defined purpose. A formal region has a governmental, administrative, or political boundary and can have political as well as geographic boundaries that are not open to dispute or debate. Formal boundaries can separate states, provinces, or countries from one another. Physical regions can be included within formal boundaries, such as the Rocky Mountains or New England. An official boundary, such as the boundary of a national park, can be considered a formal boundary. School districts, cities, and county governments have formal boundaries.
Natural physical geographic features have a huge influence on where political boundaries of formal regions are set. If you look at a world map, you will recognize that many political boundaries are natural features, such as rivers, mountain ranges, and large lakes. For example, between the United States and Mexico, the Rio Grande makes up a portion of the border. Likewise, between Canada and the United States, a major part of the eastern border is along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Alpine mountain ranges in Europe create borders, such as the boundary between Switzerland and Italy.
While geographic features can serve as convenient formal borders, political disputes will often flare up in adjacent areas, particularly if valuable natural or cultural resources are found within the geographic features. Oil drilling near the coast of a sovereign country, for example, can cause a dispute between countries about which one has dominion over the oil resources. The exploitation of offshore fisheries can also be disputed. A Neolithic mummy of a man who died in 3300 BCE caused tension between Italy and Switzerland: the body was originally taken to Innsbruck, Switzerland, but when it was determined that the body was found about 90 meters (180 feet) inside the border of Italy, Italian officials laid claim to the body.
Functional regions have boundaries related to a practical function within a given area. When the function of an area ends, the functional region ends and its boundaries cease to exist. For example, a functional region can be defined by a newspaper service or delivery area. If the newspaper goes bankrupt, the functional region no longer exists. Church parishes, shopping malls, and business service areas are other examples of functional regions. They function to serve a region and may have established boundaries for limits of the area to which they will provide service. An example of a common service area—that is, a functional region—is the region to which a local pizza shop will deliver.
Vernacular regions have loosely defined boundaries based on people’s perceptions or thoughts. Vernacular regions can be fluid—that is, different people may have different opinions about the limits of the regions. Vernacular regions include concepts such as the region called the “Middle East.” Many people have a rough idea of the Middle East’s location but do not know precisely which countries make up the Middle East. Also, in the United States, the terms Midwest or South have many variations. Each individual might have a different idea about the location of the boundaries of the South or the Midwest. Whether the state of Kentucky belongs in the Midwest or in the South might be a matter of individual perception. Similarly, various regions of the United States have been referred to as the Rust Belt, Sun Belt, or Bible Belt without a clear definition of their boundaries. The limit of a vernacular area is more a matter of perception than of any formally agreed-upon criteria. Nevertheless, most people would recognize the general area being discussed when using one of the vernacular terms in a conversation.
Using a State as a Comparison Guide
In comparing one formal political region with another, it is often helpful to use a familiar country, state, province, or political unit as a reference or guide. Wherever you are located, you can research the statistical data for a formal region familiar to you to provide a common reference. The US state of Kentucky is one example that can be used to compare formal political regions. Kentucky ranks close to the middle range of the fifty US states in terms of its population of 4.3 million people. Kentucky is also within the median range of the fifty states in overall physical area. The state’s 40,409-square-mile physical area ranks it thirty-seventh in size in the United States. Kentucky is not as large in physical area as the western states but is larger in physical area than many of the eastern states. Kentucky includes part of the rural peripheral region of Appalachia, but the state also has cosmopolitan core urban centers such as Lexington and Louisville. Kentucky also borders the metropolitan city of Cincinnati. The rural peripheral regions of the state are home to agriculture and mining. The urban core areas are home to industry and service centers. Other US states could also be used as examples. Identifying a state’s geographical attributes provides readers both in and outside the United States with a comparison indicator for geographic purposes.
The state of Kentucky can be used as a comparison guide for understanding other formal political regions around the world.
World Regional Geography
World regional geography studies various world regions as they compare with the rest of the world. Factors for comparison include both the physical and the cultural landscape. The main questions are, Who lives there? What are their lives like? What do they do for a living? Physical factors of significance can include location, climate type, and terrain. Human factors include cultural traditions, ethnicity, language, religion, economics, and politics.
World regional geography focuses on regions of various sizes across the earth’s landscape and aspires to understand the unique character of regions in terms of their natural and cultural attributes. Spatial studies can play an important role in regional geography. The scientific approach can focus on the distribution of cultural and natural phenomena within regions as delimited by various natural and cultural factors. The focus is on the spatial relationships within any field of study, such as regional economics, resource management, regional planning, and landscape ecology.
Again, this textbook takes a regional approach with a focus on themes that illustrate the globalization process, which in turn helps us better understand our global community. The regions studied in world regional geography can be combined into larger portions called realms . Realms are large areas of the planet, usually with multiple regions, that share the same general geographic location. Regions are cohesive areas within each realm. The following eleven realms are outlined in this text:
- Europe (Eastern Europe and Western Europe)
- The Russian Realm (Russian republic of the former Soviet Union)
- North America (United States and Canada)
- Middle America (Caribbean, Mexico, Central America)
- South America
- North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia
- Subsaharan Africa (Africa south of the Sahara Desert)
- Southern Asia (India and its neighbors)
- Eastern Asia (China, Mongolia, Japan, and the Koreas)
- Southeast Asia (mainland region and the islands region)
- Australia and the Pacific (including New Zealand)
Figure 1.10 Major World Realms
- Geography is the spatial study of the earth’s surface. The discipline of geography bridges the social sciences with the physical sciences. The two main branches of geography include physical geography and human geography. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing are tools that geographers use to study the spatial nature of physical and human landscapes.
- A grid system called the graticule divides the earth by lines of latitude and longitude that allow for the identification of absolute location on the earth’s surface through geometric coordinates measured in degrees. There are twenty-four time zones that are set at 15-degree intervals each and organize time intervals around the world.
- The tilt of the earth’s axis at 23.5 degrees helps create the earth’s seasonal transitions by either absorbing or reflecting the sun’s energy. The line of direct sunlight always hits the earth between 23.5 degrees north (Tropic of Cancer) and 23.5 degrees south (Tropic of Capricorn), depending on the time of year.
- A region is the basic unit of study in geography. Three main types of boundaries define a region: formal, functional, and vernacular. World regional geography is the study of a particular group of world regions or realms as each compares with the rest of the world.
Discussion and Study Questions
- How does the discipline of geography provide a bridge between the social sciences and the physical sciences?
- How does the cultural landscape assist in indicating the differences between a wealthy neighborhood and a poverty-stricken neighborhood?
- How can remote sensing technology assist in determining what people do for a living?
- What is the significance of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn?
- What occupations depend on knowledge of the seasons for their success?
- If it is 4 p.m. in San Francisco, what time is it in London, England?
- How would GIS, GPS, or remote sensing technology be used to evaluate the destruction caused by a tornado in Oklahoma?
- How is the cultural landscape influenced by the physical landscape?
- Can you list a formal region, a functional region, and a vernacular region that would include where you live?
- What methods, topics, or procedures would be helpful to include in the study of world geography?
Identify the following key places on a map:
- Arctic Circle
- Antarctic Circle
- International Date Line
- Prime meridian
- Tropic of Cancer
- Tropic of Capricorn
- Use Google Earth to locate your current school or residence.
- Draw a map of your home state or province and include lines of latitude and longitude.
- Compile the statistical data on your home state, province, or territory to use in comparing formal political regions.
World Regional Geography Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
Free Printable Blank World Map With Outline, Transparent [PDF]
Explore the geography of the world with our printable Blank World Map Template that you can use for geographical learning. The article provides the printable template of the world’s geography that can be easily printed by all the geographical enthusiasts.
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The world is a bigger place and its geographical purview is the biggest in itself as it contains the whole of the earth. It requires systematic study to understand the world geography and the map makes it feasible. Creating the map is not an easy task and is not for everyone in the class geography. You need to have a thorough and sheer knowledge of the world’s geography to draw an accurate map. You can take a look at our map template to begin your learning of the world’s geography. The template comes very conveniently to provide the ultimate preview of the world’s geography.
Check Here For More World Map Article:
- Blank Map of India
- Blank World Map
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Printable World Map
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Blank World Map Worksheet
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Printable Map of World
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*Note: Continuing Education (CE) Classes are Billed Separately . If you enroll in both Main Campus and CE classes in the same term, CE tuition will be billed in addition to your Main Campus tuition. CE courses are not COF eligible.
GEOG 1001 Environment Systems: Climate and Vegetation
The objective of this course is to provide you with an introduction to the Earth's climate system and patterns of world vegetation. We will emphasize the many linkages and feedbacks between the non-living (abiotic) and living (biotic) components of the earth system.
Topics we will cover include radiation, temperature, winds and pressure, the water cycle, climate change, and biomes. This course will prepare you for subsequent, more specialized courses in climatology, hydrology, ecology, and biogeography (ecosystems and cycles). This is a natural science course, and graphs and basic algebra-level math calculations will be used to help understand the concepts covered.
This class fulfills, a MAPS requirement, and a requirement for the Geography major.
GEOG 1011 Environmental Systems: Landscapes and Water
Earths landscapes – the natural surface is composed of rock, soils, water, and vegetation – are always changing. These landscapes host, life, and human activity. Knowledge of how the Earth's surface changes is necessary to ensure public safety, provide food and water, security, and support ecosystem management hasten, and thus this knowledge is relevant to the adverse career pursuits.
Topics covered include the basic geologic processes of plate tectonics, volcanoes, and earthquake. We then explore how the land surface is shaped by water and physical processes, focusing on weathering, soils, hydrology, luvial processes, glaciers, climate change, and human impacts. By the end of the course, you will be familiar with the primary physical processes involved in the formation of the Earth's landscapes. You should also be able to generally describe how these natural sciences are related to important scientific and societal issues.
This class fulfills a MAPS requirement and a requirement for the Geography Major.
GEOG 1962 Geographies of Global Change
The course focuses on contemporary issues of the relationship pf people to their natural environment. The class has three modules. Module 1 reviews the main consequences for humans of climate change, especially migration, food insecurity and resource scarcities with a focus on Africa. Module 2 examines the interaction of people and nature via the persistent patters of the natural and technological disasters in rich and poor countries. Module 3 examines the power dynamics of gender, race, and class as part of environment and development processes involving climate change and environmental justice. The class is team-taught by three professors who are expert in the respective topics ad serves as an introduction to geographic perspectives on matter of contemporary global importance and that involve difficult personal and political choices.
This class fulfills a MAPS requirement and a requirement for the Geography Major
GEOG 1972-581* Environment-Society Geography
The study of global environmental issues evokes one of the most profound questions of our times: What is, and what ought to be, the relationship between humans and the environment? To answer this, we must also ask: What is the "nature" and how do people of different cultures conceptualizing differently? What drives human modification of the earth and its non-human inhabitants, and how are specific groups of people differentially affected by these modifications? What kinds of assumptions have led to the creation of certain environmental problems, and for whom or what are they problems? Topics we will cover include anthropogenic climate change; population and consumption; hazards, ethics, and environmental justice; conservation; food/ agriculture, water, and waste. We will draw from examples around the world to critically examine how environmental problems are defined and tackled and what this tells us about nature-society relations more broadly.
This class fulfills a MAPS requirement and a requirement for the Geography Major; it is also a great introduction to "Environment-Society" Geography Track.
GEOG 1982-581* Global Geographies: Societies, Places, Connections
This course introduces a comparative and critical framework for understanding world regions. We will examine different regions by looking at their history, geography, and discussing current problems and challenges they face. This includes helping students understand the complexity and interconnectedness of issues such as development, economic growth, income and wealth inequality, colonialism and neocolonialism, political conflict, population, race, and climate change - all in the context of globalization.
Examples and assignments will link course topics to current events and students' own experiences.
GEOG 1992-581* Human Geographies
Examines social, political, economic, and cultural processes creating the geographical worlds in which we live,and how these spatial relationships shape our everyday lives. Studies critical geopolitics, ecological change, international development, population dynamics, urbanization, and migration to explore how these processes work at global scales as well as shape geographies of particular places.
This class fulfills a MAPS requirement and a requirement for the Geography Major; it is also a great introduction to the "Human Geography" Track.
GEOG 2092 Advanced Introduction to Human Geography
How do we make sense of humanity’s place in the world, as well as our changing impact on it? What are the causes of uneven development, both between and within different regions? What tools do geographers use to understand and represent human spatiality, and how are these changing?
In this course, we will examine issues of globalization, urbanization, development, migration, natural resource management and the links between landscape and identity. We will use examples from multiple scales, ranging from geopolitical blocs to neighborhood blocks, and from multiple sites around the world. Following Einstein’s advice to explain things “as simply as possible, but not overly so”, the course emphasizes the complexities that make up human geographies, while also teaching tools for unpacking this complexity in the context of social action.
GEOG 2271-581* Introduction to the Arctic Environment
The Arctic plays a key role in the global climate system and is a region in the midst of rapid change,encompassing the land, ocean and the atmosphere. In this course you will learn about the highly varied climates and landscapes that characterize the Arctic, the Arctic Ocean and its floating sea ice cover, the Greenland ice sheet, Arctic tundra, snow and permafrost.
The course will also emphasize the dramatic changes that are taking place in the Arctic, including rapid warming and a shrinking sea ice cover, and what these changes mean for the rest of the planet.
GEOG/IPHY 2692 Foundations in Public Health
This course provides a comprehensive overview of public health as well as an in-depth review of specific public health-related topics. Beginning with historical overview, students will explore major public health concepts such as the basic principles of epidemiology, the biomedical basis of disease, social and behavioral determinants of health, and systems thinking. Students will be introduced to the concepts of measuring and evaluating the health of the populations, principles of communicable and non-communicable diseases, environmental and occupational health, the economics of health, and the role of public health workers in society.
GEOG 3022 Climate Politics and Policy
Are you interested in climate change politics? If so, this class is for you!
We will explore the global politics of climate change through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and how its key issues and framings have changed over time.
We will also explore climate policy and politics at other scales, including the national, state and local levels, paying particular attention to issues of justice in a range of issues including adaptation, energy transition, migration, and carbon finance.
GEOG 3023 Statistics and Geographic Data
From fitness trackers to Facebook to polls on politics and other issues, our world is flooded with data. Careers in data science are in high demand, and technological and societal changes make data available on nearly everything.
ln this course, we teach you how to understand and model the relationships between data and your world. You'll learn how to collect data, learn modeling techniques, and develop questions that we can answer with statistical methods. The course is hands-on and will guide you in using the latest statistical software to produce graphics, answer questions, and find patterns about the world around us.
This course does not assume any previous experience with statistics. It satisfies the statistics requirement for the Geography, major, and serves as a great introduction to data modeling for any Geography major or minor.
GEOG 3053 Geographic Information Science: Mapping
Mapping and data visualization supports man tasks in Geography, Environmental Studies, Earth Sciences and Human and Social Sciences. Maps can help you explore spatial data, perform analysis, and present meaningful results. Knowing how to put together a database and process layers of terrain, water, roads, and thematic data (vegetation, population, etc.) in order to make a map is an extremely useful skill that many employers are seeking. Come learn what it is all about!
This course provides a technical introduction to mapping and information design in a GIS environment. We'll cover principles of scientific visualization, graphical design, and mapping. You'll learn how to manipulate scale, work with and change map projections, how to select informative colors, how to classify map data, and how to symbolize data, and how to quantify patterns of error on maps. In lab, you will design maps and create a working cartographic database. By the end of this course, you will be capable of creating high quality cartographic displays and work comfortably with Desktop ArcGIS software to process spatial data.
Some prior experience with Apple or Windows computing is expected. No previous experience in ArcGIS or mapping technologies is required. GEOG 3053 is a prerequisite for the Geography GIS courses. A beginning course in statistics is strongly recommended and may be taken concurrently.
GEOG 3251-581* & 582* Mountain Geography
The world’s mountains are fascinating and mysterious landscapes. Created by geologic activity, shaped by water and ice, and transformed by vegetation and human activity, mountain landscapes, offer a unique perspective into historical and current events. Using mountain landscapes as a study area, this course will examine the interactions and connections among key topics and physical and human geography. Daily presentations and frequent, hands-on activities will apply geographic concepts to the Colorado Rockies, as well as mountain ranges around the world. To explore our mountain landscapes, local examples will be used to examine how wildlife impacts local forests and human communities, and investigate how historic mining and continuing human activities have shaped the mountain landscapes in our backyard.
GEOG 3301 Analysis of Climate and Weather Observations
This course is designed to introduce you to the collection and analysis of data used to understand Earth's climate and weather. It is meant to be a fun and stimulating way to learn more about the weather and the atmosphere, while at the same time giving you a taste of what it is like to study atmospheric and climate science. We will focus on how rather than what. For e.g., you will learn how atmospheric observations are collected and analyzed. While we will review concepts of weather and climate, it is expected that you are familiar with basic atmospheric science/meteorology (see prerequisites below). This course is expected to be a great complement to GEOG 3601/ATOC 3600.
Prerequisites: GEOG 1001 and/or ATOC 1050/1060. A basic math/stats course and knowledge of data analysis software (e.g., Python, R, MATLAB) will be helpful.
GEOG 3351 Biogeography
“Biodiversity is the totality of all inherited variation, in a lifeforms of earth, of which we are one species. We study and save it to our great benefit. We ignore integrated to our great peril.” — E.O. Wilson
Learn about the evolution and ecology of plants and animals across the globe! Biogeography examines the geography of biological life by employing an interdisciplinary framework. During the course we will delve into the mysteries of endemism and speciation across space and time, covering basic concepts and principles of geographic variation and evolution. This is a student-centric course utilizing a range of learning experiences and instructional approaches. It is a fantastic complement to all upper-level GEOG, ENVS, and EBIO coursework.
GEOG 3402 Natural Hazards
This class examines the interaction of society and natural extremes, with particular attention to exposure, vulnerability, preparedness, mitigation, and recovery from natural disasters. Our social science approach differentiates this class from courses on natural disasters taught as natural science, where the emphasis is on the physical processes (like tectonics and volcanism). We treat the subject as both an academic field of inquiry that provides insight into social structures, human behavior, and environment and society relationships, and as a professional field in which students learn methods and skills that can be applied to careers in environmental and hazards management. While we will briefly cover the physical science of hazards like hurricanes, foods, and earthquakes, the focus is on human geography: how people and institutions perceive and respond to hazards and how development in hazardous areas increases risk. Given the time, we will also briefly examine technological hazards and disasters.
This is a lecture class, with exercises and exams. The material is in four main categories: (1) concepts and principles, including material on the nature of extreme events, social exposure and vulnerability, trends in hazard impacts, and ways to measure and characterize hazards and risks; (2) specific hazards like hurricanes, foods and earthquakes; (3) hazard impact reduction, including mitigation, warning systems; land use; insurance; and recovery; and (4) special topics such as events in the news.
GEOG 3601; ATOC 3600/ENVS 3600 Principles of Climate
This course describes the basic components of the climate system: the atmosphere, ocean, cyrosphere, and lithosphere. We will investigate the basic physical processes that determine climate and the link between the components of the climate system. Emphasis is placed on the hydrologic cycle and its role in climate, climate stability, and global change. The theme throughout this course will be an examination of the importance of climate as one of the major forcing functions in environmental change. Both human-induced and natural climate variability will be covered.
GEOG 3682-581* & 582* Geography of International Developmen t
Today, amid rising global debates about migration, regional instabilities from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, and transnational corporations increasingly involved in everything from poverty to governance to climate change, the politics of international development could not be more urgent.
What is the role of international assistance in a world marked by imperialism and inequity? How do actors in the "global South" deal with livelihood and governance issues that crosscut economics, politics, history and tradition? How is "Development" itself changing as the United State's place in the world is increasingly unsettled?
This course uses the lens and tools of human geography to explore these questions. Examining cases from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, this course surveys the changing terrain of international development at the dawn of the Twenty-first Century.
GEOG 3692 Introduction to Global Public Health
This course explores critical issues in global public health through a biosocial lens, incorporating the biological, economic, political, social and cultural influences on health. We take a candid look at the challenges of quantifying health as well as the issues of past health and development initiatives (with a focus on developing countries). We examine the tensions between intellectual property rights and the fundamental need for affordable medicines as played out in the cases of TB and HIV. We delve into the roles of the World Health Organization, nongovernmental organizations and ministries of health in addressing both infectious and non‐communicable diseases. We explore health care systems and consider the essential elements of systems which improve accessibility and quality of care for its citizens. We look at the future priorities of global health, including the impact of climate change on health. Students will read and discuss case studies on global health, conduct a guided semester-long research project on the health of a developing country, and take 3 non-cumulative exams. This is a 4-credit course.
GEOG 3742 Place, Power, Contemporary Culture
What is "power,' and how are spaces produced through relationships of power? GEOG 3742 introduces students to key theories and contemporary debates in critical and feminist geography through a focus on the themes of power, space, and culture as conceptual frameworks. We will apply critical geographic perspectives on power to the topics of: colonialism and imperialism; states and territoriality; transnational migration and human rights; conflict and nationalism; environmental politics and social movements; and connections between local and transnational activism.
The course is structured around four units:
- feminist geographies;
- postcolonial geographies;
- environmental injustice and queer ecologies;
- decolonial geographies.
While many of our readings are theoretical, we will draw from contemporary examples from different regions of the world - Canada, India, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Russia, Tajikistan, South Africa, Ukraine, United Kingdom - to ground our studies.
GEOG 3782 Environmentalism, Race, and Justice
As the environmental justice (EJ) movement has emphasized, environmental problems do not affect all people equally. EJ activists and EJ scholars have demonstrated that communities of color, Indigenous communities, and working-class communities are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of exposure to those hazards - inequalities that cause illness, death, suffering, cultural dislocation, and other egregious forms of injustice. The need for socially just environmental action is more urgent than ever before.
This course examines spatial inequalities in environmental problems and their relationships to environmentalism and racism. In the course, we will describe patterns of environmental inequality at various scales (local, national, international) and examine their implications for human health, well-being, and sense of place. We will identify key causes of environmental inequalities, paying particular attention to environmentalism and racism. The course explores efforts to reduce environmental inequality, including by social movements, researchers, students, journalists, political leaders, and government agencies, and it introduces students to research methods for documenting and analyzing environmental inequality. The course will focus geographically on the United States.
GEOG 3822-581* Geography of China
China is one of the fastest changing countries on earth. With hundreds of new cities under construction, rapidly accumulating wealth among the middle and upper classes, a precarious environment and resource-base, and rising geopolitical ambitions, understanding a changing China is more important now than ever before. Yet as China's influence grows, it seems to become more misunderstood than ever.
This course aims to explore China's changes, as well as dispel common myths about contemporary China, through the lens of human geography.
We explore China's diverse environmental and cultural landscapes, its historical geography, and the challenges of rural development, urbanization, environment, energy, and climate change.
GEOG 3832 Geographies of South Asia
This course will examine the Geographies of South Asia through four interrelated themes: Territory, Trade, Transportation, and Tributaries. Territory will cover the physical geographic characteristics of South Asia, along with the social and political histories that have transformed South Asian geographies. Trade will focus on the economic geographies of South Asia prior, during, and after colonization. Transportation examines the changing geographies of mobility in South Asia from roads to railroads and airports. Tributaries address the politics of water resources among nations in South Asia and the social/cultural significance of water bodies.
We will investigate gender roles and relations as a lens through which to examine the diverse identities and cultures of South Asia. The course will begin with a general overview of the region followed by more extensive study of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, and Bhutan.
GEOG 3862 Geography of Africa
Africa is a continent encompassing an extraordinary amount of diversity — ecologically, socially, and culturally. Yet Africa is often misrepresented as one homogenous place (often misunderstood as one country!). Africa is often presented as a continent in crisis (politically, economically, and environmentally). In this class you will be asked to continuously challenge what you already know (and think you know) about Africa as a place, and about Africa’s place in the world, today and historically.
You will learn about the extraordinary diversity that exists within Africa from various perspectives, but also about particular trends that may appear across the continent. General overviews at the continental scale on particular topics will be matched up with case studies from specific places.
GEOG 3882 Geography of the Former Soviet Union
Russia has been in the news a lot recently, with much attention to Vladimir Putin and his actions. The former Soviet Union is a hugely complex place and is changing rapidly in diverse ways.
The course goals are to give students the background to understand contemporary events. We will focus on post-Soviet and Russian geographies with special attention to political, social and environmental developments since 2014. Russian foreign policy and Russian interventions in the 'near abroad' (countries bordering Russia) especially the invasion of Ukraine will be examined as well as internal conflicts around religious identities, civil liberties, and environmental crimes.
Readings are a mix of a text, academic articles and current news analysis for an educated public. Students will write a term paper, and sit for a midterm and a final exam. Class will be a mix of lecture and discussion of contemporary events.
GEOG 4002-001 Topics in Human and Enviroment/Society Geography: Climate Change and Social Outcomes
Examining the possible outcomes of global climate change for food security, health, conflict, and migration in different world contexts. Special attention to both the political debate in the US and globally for action to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
GEOG 4003/5100-002 Topics in Geographic Skills: UAS for Earth Observations (aka “The Drone Course”)
Earth observations are the basis for scientific endeavors across many diverse disciplines. The recent ubiquity of small, inexpensive, UAS (uncrewed aircraft systems) allows for people to obtain timely data sets worldwide with minimal expense. Scientific data products obtained from UAS include: digital elevation modules, three-dimensional structure mapping, in situ atmospheric measurements, thermal maps, and more.
This course instruct students how to successfully carry out a UAS mission from beginning to end, such as incorporating ground control points needed to geo-reference UAS data, qualifying as a CU Boulder, UAS Pilot & Visual Observer, and creating point-cloud data from imagery. The course will have a field component where students will fly UAS to collect original data sets, and then create the associated data products.
Student Learning Outcome: Ability to run a successful UAS Earth Observation mission from project concept to product delivery.
GEOG 4023/5023 Advanced Quantitative Methods for Spatial Data
Methods and models for analyzing spatial data are new and in many cases, quite complex. The special nature of spatial data means that geospatial researchers need to develop tools and methods that are specific to spatial data, but that are easy to combine with other forms of analysis. This course covers a number of techniques aimed at the analysis and understanding of spatial data. We will cover statistical methods that are commonly used in geography including hypothesis tests, linear and non-linear regression, spatial and temporal autocorrelation, spatial modeling, geographically weighted regression, spatial lag and spatial error models, and other geocomputational methods.
Students will receive exposure to the latest issues, statistical approaches, and application perspectives. Lectures, classroom discussions, reading assignments, and lab exercises will provide students with hands-on training and problem-solving experience. The course will be of interest to students interested in the analysis of geospatial data from a variety of perspectives, including human and natural environments.
GEOG/GEOL 4093/5093 Remote Sensing of the Environment
Global environmental change is one of the most pressing international issues of this century. There is a need to monitor the earth's vital signs from atmospheric ozone to sea level change.
Satellite data sets are critical for monitoring regional and global changes, determine natural variability of Earth systems and addressing fundamental global change issues. The course is designed to introduce students to the techniques of remote sensing measurements of environmental parameters from aircraft and satellite platforms. The course is based on the application of simple physical principles of electromagnetic radiation. Different sensing systems such as electro-optical systems, passive microwave systems, ranging systems, and scattering techniques will be discussed with applications for the atmosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
GEOG 4103 / 5103 Geographic Information Science: Spatial Analysis
Are you ready to bring your GIS skills up to the next level? This course introduces the theoretical concepts and advanced use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It focuses on the nature of geographic information, the management of geospatial data and available methods for geographic analysis and geoprocessing to perform advanced and complex modeling in a GIS environment. Lectures focus on the theoretical basis of GIS science, the understanding of spatial algorithms and the development of a critical attitude toward GIS operations and model outputs. During lab sessions students will be able to apply the concepts and techniques presented in lectures and become well-trained in using GIS software. The aim of this course is that students understand elementary GIS theory, have a working knowledge of ArcGIS, and be able to develop GIS-based solutions for spatial problems, independently. In short: You will be ready for starting your professional GIS career.
GEOG 4173 Research Seminar
Are you a Geography major or minor who is:
- Passionate about a question or topic you want to do true in-depth research on by doing fieldwork and/or collecting/ analyzing data others have collected?
- Further interested in learning more about the research and writing process, and which kinds of research make sense for which questions?
- Considering writing an Honors or Senior Thesis and/or thinking about future graduate studies?
This hands-on seminar will introduce you to the craft of research and allow you to explore a question related to a variety of social or natural science subfields. We will give you the tools and guidance for you to explore the issues you find most interesting while giving you time to pursue them.
This course fulfills the Geography skills requirement and offers crucial preparation for any student interested in graduate school.
GEOG 4303 / 5303 GIS: Spatial Programming
Do you want to enter the job market as a competitive GIS modeler with programming skills? This course will help you get there. It focuses on the extension of geographic information systems (GIS) through programming as well as on the development of algorithms for spatial analysis and information extraction in vector and raster data. We will cover different concepts, principles and techniques of programming that help you to solve a variety of spatial problems in physical and human Geography. You will learn how to work with Python for Geoprocessing in ArcGIS as well as for spatial programming in gridded data using numpy, scipy and other open source libraries.
Furthermore, you will understand the basic ideas of object-oriented and procedural programming. You will develop skills to explore, handle, manipulate, and model spatial data as well as methods development. Lectures will include numerous demonstrations and hands-on examples as well as algorithmic exercises. In labs, you will work on solving typical programming and implementation problems that you will encounter in the real world. During the last weeks of the term students will work in small groups on a proposed project to deepen their programming knowledge, improve their GIS proficiency and train their presentation and communication skills.
- GEOG 4103/5103 or comparable is required.
- Working experience with ArcGIS 10x.
- Additional coursework such as GEOG 4203/5203 would be helpful.
- Programming experience is not a prerequisite.
GEOG 4321 / 5321 Snow Hydrology
Are you interested in the various processes related to snow in mid-latitude and polar areas? You will learn the physics and chemistry that underlie processes such as snow metamorphism, and apply this knowledge to real situations, including calculation of basin storage of water, runoff rates, acid snow, and avalanche dynamics.
The course will cover snow formation in the atmosphere, snow accumulation and distribution, snow metamorphism, avalanche dynamics, snow melt and runoff, remote sensing of snow properties, and case studies in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada.
Prerequisites are a physical geography course or equivalent, and a parametric statistics course.
GEOG 4403 / 5403 Space Time Analytics
We live in a dynamic and ever-changing world. Knowledge of the tools, techniques, and theories behind spatio-temporal data and analysis is therefore essential to understanding the dynamics of most systems on the planet. In this course, we focus on understanding processes (be they human, natural, social, or physical) through data-driven analysis and modeling of patterns in spatio-temporal data.
This is a 'taster' course, designed to introduce you to a wide range of topics and ideas around observing, modeling, and understanding dynamic systems in Geography. As such, we will cover a wide range of topics, including spatio-temporal data, machine-learning, modeling, visualization, time-geography, and various contemporary issues/new directions in spatio-temporal analytics.
This is an advanced course in quantitative and theoretical methods for spatio-temporal analysis. As such, some background in Python or R is highly recommended (though not required).
Prerequisites: GEOG 4103/5103 with GEOG 4023/5023 strongly recommended
GEOG 5563 Earth Analytics
This multidisciplinary course will address major questions in Earth science and teach students to use the analytical tools necessary to undertake exploration of heterogeneous 'big scientific data.' This course is designed for upper level (junior / senior level) undergraduate students and graduate students.
Throughout the course you will use computationally intensive techniques to address scientific questions. You will use a suite of different types of publicly available data including:
- Satellite and airborne lidar and spectral remote sensing data.
- Data collected using distributed in situ (on the ground) sensor networks.
- Social media data.
This course is technical. You will use the Python scientific programming environment and the Jupyter Notebook interface to work with data. You will code every week!
This course is developed by Earth Lab. Earth lab harmonizes the wave of earth observations from aerospace platforms to address, scientific challenges, and understanding the pace and pattern of global change. See colorado.edu/earthlab .