Five Themes of Geography

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Five Themes of Geography

The five Themes of Geography originated by the National Geographic Society to fulfill a need for geographers (people who study the earth and everything on it) to categorize everything they learn. The five themes were written in 1984 by the Joint Committee on Geographic Education of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) and the Association of American Geographers (AAG).


Theme 1: Location

  1. Where is it?
  2. Why is it located there?
  3. Absolute location is given in degrees of latitude and longitude.
  4. Relative location depends upon your point of reference. Is the location near, far, a short walk away, a short drive away.


Theme 2: Place

  1. What is it like?
  2. Physical Features (characteristics)­ Landforms (mountain, plateau, peninsula), Ecosystems (plants, animals),
  3. Bodies of water (oceans, bays, lakes, rivers)
  4. Human Features (characteristics) - bridges, roads, buildings
  5. All places have features that distinguish them from other places.


Theme 3: Human/Environment Interaction

  1. Humans depend on the environment
  2. Humans adapt to the environment
  3. Humans modify the environment
  4. How do people interact with and change the environment?


Theme 4: Movement

  1. Movement is the flow of people, ideas and goods such as transportation, communication and trade.
  2. There are patterns of movement such as migration.
  3. There are linkages and connections between regions and places.
  4. How are people and places linked by communication and transportation?
  5. How are trading partners moving goods through imports and exports?

Theme 5: Regions

  1. Regions can be defined on the basis of:
    a) Physical Features - landforms, climate, soil, vegetation (ie. grassland, marshland, desert, rain forest)
    b) Human Features - government, political divisions, religions, economic system, language, culture
  2. Region is a basic unit for geographic study.
  3. What are the unifying features of the region and how do they form and change over time?
  4. How can Earth be divided into regions for study?

References