Geography: The World’s and Its Peoples
Chapter 1: Looking at the Earth
Geography is the study of the earth and its people. Maps and globes are some of the tools used to
study the physical and human characteristics of our planet. LANDSAT photos and Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) help geographers provide information used by government and
business leaders as they plan and make decisions.
Our planet, Earth, is part of a solar system made up of a sun, nine planets, and thousands of
smaller bodies. Life on Earth could not exist without the heat and light provided by the sun or the
atmosphere of gases that surrounds the planet. The earth's rotation creates a twenty-four hour day
and night, while its orbit around the sun and 23 ½ degree tilt produce the seasons.
Inside the earth are layers of varying thickness and composition: the inner core, outer core,
mantle, and crust. Scientists theorize that volcanoes, earthquakes, and continental drift are caused
by the movement of tectonic plates that float on top of the liquid rock in the mantle. The forces
of weathering and erosion also continually change the earth's surface.
People have adapted in order to live on various landforms. Mountains, plateaus, valleys, and
other landforms are found on land and under the oceans. About 70 percent of the earth's surface
Chapter 2: Water, Climate, and Vegetation
Water covers about 70 percent of the earth's surface. The earth's water is continually moving
though the processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Together these
steps are known as the water cycle. In order to survive humans need freshwater, but the vast
majority of the water on Earth is the saltwater found in the oceans.
Climate is the usual pattern of weather in an area over a long period of time. A combination of
factors creates climate. Wind and ocean currents, the sun, latitude, and elevation all contribute to
climate. People's actions can also affect climate. The burning of fossil fuels and the destruction
of the rainforest are human actions that are causing concern.
Geographers divide the world into different climate zones. Each zone shares common
characteristics and has particular kinds of vegetation. The five major climate zones are tropical,
mid-latitude, high latitude, dry, and highland.
Chapter 3: The World's People
Culture is the way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs. Culture
includes eight elements or traits: social groups, language, religion, daily life, history, arts,
government systems, and economic systems. Cultures change over time as new ideas and
technologies are introduced. New knowledge and skills also spread to other cultures in a process
called cultural diffusion. Geographers divide the world into culture regions.