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5 Themes of Geography

The Five Themes of Geography

The Five Themes were developed by the National Council for Geographic Education to provide an organizing framework for the presentation of geographic materials.

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The Five Themes are as follows:

  1. Location: Position on the Earth’s Surface (Absolute/Relative). Geographic study begins with the location of places on the earth. Places have absolute locations that pinpoint them on the earth, and relative locations that place each location in respect to other locations. For example, North Dakota has an absolute location that can be pointed to on any basic map. It also has a relative location in that it has a location within the economic system based on its characteristics and location within the world market. North Dakota has its absolute location’s characteristics for soil and climate, yet the success of wheat growing is also related to its location to the edge of more expensive arm land to the east.
  2. Place: Physical and Human Characteristics. Place have physical and human characteristics that make them what they are. Geography emphasizes the understanding of both of these factors and their integration together.
  3. Human/Environment Interactions: Shaping the Landscape. The landscape of the earth is no longer a purely physical feature. Human have impact every area of the earth, but in varying ways. The geography of places is influenced by the degree to which humans have impacted their local environment.
  4. Movement: Humans Interacting on the Earth. The postmodern world is one of great interaction between places. This movement is inherently geographic, whether it is by telecommunications or ship.
  5. Regions: How They Form and Change. The essential geographic feature is the region. A region is any unit of space that is unified by the presence of some characteristic. The Corn Belt, stretching from Indiania to eastern Nebraska, is an area in which corn is a dominating product. The Corn Belt is a region within the United States.

Source: University of Nebraska Omaha, Workshop, Five Themes of Geography