The Elements of Culture
The total of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors
shared by and passed on by the members of a specific
Includes all products of human work and thought
Technically it is a blueprint for how people should
behave if they want to fit in with the group.
It ties people together
Separates people from other groups
Culture involves the following:
Relationships to family and others
Political and social organization
Creative expression - arts
A society is a group that shares a geographic region,
a sense of identify, and a culture.
Refers to a group that shares a language, customs, and
a common heritage.
Their identities as a separate group of people within
the region where they live.
Culture Change and Exchange
Taking existing technology and resources and creating
something new to meet a need.
Examples – baskets, clay pots
Could happen on purpose or by accident
Example – cooking meat
The spread of ideas, inventions, or patterns of behaviors
In today’s time this happens rapidly
Cultural hearths are the beginning sites of ideas,
materials, and technology that diffuse to other cultures.
Societal changes because it accepts or adopts an
Example – wearing jeans instead of traditional garments
Can have a positive or negative effect depending on
how the change comes
If forced, consequences would be negative
Individuals/groups accept the change, positive outcomes
One of the most important aspects of culture
Language and Identity
Helps establish a cultural identify, unity among people
Can lead to nationalism
A strong feeling of pride in one’s nation
Can divide people
If multiple languages are spoken but one is favored this can
lead to conflict
Canadian – English and French in Quebec – French is the
3,000-6,500 languages are spoken in the world today
Dialects are versions of a language.
Reflects changes in speech patterns related to class,
region, or other cultural changes
Example – US – Northern vs. Southern
Follow trade routes
Can be invented
Blended languages develop to aid communication among
groups speaking several languages
Examples – Louisiana, presence of French, African, and
North American peoples resulted in Creole.
People carry language with them when they sometimes
take hold in that region.
Consists of a belief in a supernatural power or powers
that are regarded as the creators and maintainers of
Monotheistic – belief in one god
Polytheistic – belief many gods
Animistic – belief in divine forces of nature.
Spread through diffusion and conversion
Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism actively seek to
Judaism – Jewish
Roman Catholic (Catholic)
Examples – Baptist, Methodist, Calvinism, etc…
Followers are called Muslims
Types – Sunni and Shia
Other Asian Religions
Creative Cultural Expressions
Performing arts – music, dance, theater, and film
Visual arts – architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles
Oral and written literature – poems, folk tales, stories
There are 7 billion people in the world.
To understand population growth geographers
calculate several different statistics
Birthrate – the number of live births per thousand
Fertility rate – shows the average number of children
a woman of childbearing years would have in her
Mortality rate or death rate – the number of deaths
per thousand people
Infant mortality rate – shows the number of deaths
among infants under age one per thousand live births.
In the 1800s it was 200-300
21st Century has seen improved health conditions and
nutrition so the rate is lower.
Population pyramids are another way to analyze
Graphic device that shows gender and age distribution
of a population.
Shows trends in countries
Wide bases have large % of young people and those
countries have a rapidly growing population.
The 7 billion people on the planet are not evenly
Some places not suitable for living
90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern
Lightly populated regions are in polar, mountainous,
or desert regions.
Half the world’s population lives in rural areas.
People are moving into the city at a rapid rate.
Urban areas include megacities
Cities with populations of 10 million or more
Tokyo – 35 million
Struggle with overcrowding, large demand for water,
Migration on a large scale alters the distribution of
Push-pull factors contribute to these migrations
Push factors cause people to leave their homeland
Pull factors draw or attract people to an area
Used to understand how heavily populated an area is.
Average number of people who live in a measurable
area, like a sq. mile
Reached by dividing the number of inhabitants in an
area by the total amount of land they occupy.
Many not be evenly distributed across a land
Certain areas may be densely (have a lot) populated
while others are quite thin.
Example – US
Changes over time.
Nations of the World
A state is an independent unit that occupies a specific
territory and has full control of its internal and external
Often “country” is used in place of state
A nation refers to a group of people with a common culture
living in a territory and having a strong sense of unity.
Types of Governments
Democracy – citizens hold all of the power.
Example - US
Monarchy – ruling family headed by a king or queen hold
political power and may/may not share
United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Types of Governments continued
Dictatorship – An individual or group holds complete
Example – North Korea
Communism – Government and economic system nearly
all political power and means of production are held by the
government in the name of all the people.
Example – Cuba
Geographic Characteristics of Nations
Contributes to the power of a country because of
resources and people
Compact, long, fragmented
Can impact how easily it can be governed
Movement of goods
Relationship with neighboring countries.
Landlocked (surrounded by other land and no direct
outlet to the sea) countries must build connections
with other countries to get goods in and out of
Access to ports and trade around the world
Protection and security
These set limits of the territory controlled by a state.
States/Nations can collect taxes, set laws, etc… within
State/nations are protective of their borders.
Based on physical features of the land, like rivers, lakes, or
Fixed line generally following latitude or longitude lines.
Regional Political Systems
Countries are often divided into smaller units to make
governing more efficient.
Most common smaller unites are cities, towns, villages
Smaller political units can combine to form larger
units like counties provinces, or states.
Countries may join with each other to form
international political, military or economic units
United Nations (UN)
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization
European Union (EU)
OAS – Organization of American States
Much of the population lives in cities.
Cities are centers of business and culture
Develops around a central city
May include suburbs – units touching the borders of the
central city or other suburbs that touch the city.
Within commuting distance of the city
Central city, suburbs and outside areas are called
The dramatic rise in the number of cities and the
changes in lifestyle that result
Allow for good transportation
Easy access to natural resources
Land Use Patterns
Basic land use patterns found in all cities
Residential - housing
Industrial – goods manufacturing
Commercial – private business and retail
The core of a city is almost always based on
Central business district (CBD)
The Functions of Cities
Educational and cultural activities
Libraries and museums
Mass transit systems
Economy consists of the production and exchange
of goods and services among a group of people
Operate on local, regional, national, or global level
Types of economic systems – The way people produce
and exchange goods and services.
Traditional – barter system
Command – production of goods and services is
determined by a central government which owns the
means of production (land, capital, labor)
Production does not reflect consumer demand
Market – Production of goods and services is
determined by the demand from consumers.
Mixed – combination of command and market
economies provides goods and services goods and
services so that all people will benefit.
Farming – Subsistence; market oriented
Levels of Economic Activity
Primary – gathering raw materials
Secondary – manufacturing
Tertiary – business or professional purpose
Quaternary – provide information, management, and
The Economics of Natural Resources
Natural resources – materials on or in the earth that
have economic value.
Abundant but are not distributed equally around the
3 types of natural resources
Renewable – resources that can be replaced
Non-renewable – Can’t be replaced
Inexhaustible energy sources - used for producing
Example – Sun, wind, etc…
Economic support systems
Infrastructure consists of the basic support systems
needed to keep an economy going
The more sophisticated the infrastructure the more
developed a country is
Measuring Economic Development
Per Capita Income – the average amount of money
earned by each person in a political unit.
GNP (gross national product) – the total value of all
goods and services produced by a country over a year
or some other specified time period.
GDP (gross domestic product) – the total value of all
goods and services produced within a country in a
given period of time.
Struggle to provide people items to meet basic needs
High per capita income
Nations in transition (Middle income countries)
Development level is between developing and developed
They have some of both