Regional Geography 105
World Regional Geography

What is Geography?

Geo- is Greek meaning:
-graphy is Greek meaning:

"Geography is the science of space and place on the Earth's surface. Its subject matter is the physical and human phenomena that make up the world's environments and places. Geographers describe the changing patterns of places in words, maps, and geo-graphics, explain how these patterns come to be, and unravel their meaning. Geography's continuing quest is to understand the physical and cultural features of places and their natural settings on the surface of Earth." - National Geography Standards 1994

Four Traditions of Geography

Spatial Tradition
Area Studies Tradition
Man-Land Tradition
Earth Science Tradition

World Regional Geography

Realms, Regions and Concepts
Geographic Realm - basic spatial unit, defined in terms of culture, economics, history, politics, environment and geomorphic features.

Realm Definitions

Culture - sum total of the knowledge, attitudes and habitual behavior patterns shared by a society.
Economics - the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
History - a chronological record of significant events, including an explanation of their causes.
Politics - government, how societies govern themselves.
Environment - the complex interaction of climate, earth materials and biologic organisms.
Geomorphic Features (geomorphology) - the world's landscapes and landforms.

Additional Realm Criteria

1) Realms are the largest units into which the inhabited world can be divided.
2) Realms can be spatially defined by area, distances, directions, location, proximity, clustering, accessibility, isolation, etc.
3) Realms are the result of the interaction of human societies andthe natural environment.
4) Realms must be representative of the entire area.
5) Realms change over time.
6) Boundaries between realms are transition zones - not sharp, clearly defined borders.


Regions are smaller areas within realms marked by distinct features or properties.
Administrative Regions: created by legal or political action, by decree or negotiation.
Thematic Regions: systematic measurement and mapping of one or more observable characteristics or themes.
Functional Regions: based on patterns of interaction.
Cognitive Regions: produced by informal perceptions and conceptions based on direct experience, prior knowledge of area, maps, or hearsay. (also known as vernacular regions and relative locations)


Regions can be defined in terms of their location within a realm, and on the globe.
Absolute Location - location defined on a grid systems (Longitude and Latitude, etc.).
Relative Location - location defined using directional terms or prominent features within the realm - assumes a prior knowledge of a realm.

Cultural Landscapes

The form and structure that is superimposed on the physical landscape by the activities of the population

Realms of the World

Australia / New Zealand
East Asia
Middle America
North Africa / Southwest Asia
North America
Oceana / Pacific
South America
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Subsaharan Africa