Department of Special Education
Physical and Human Characteristics
Location tells us where, and place tells us what is there. All places have a set of distinctive characteristics, the features that make them different from or similar to other places. Geographers often divide these characteristics into physical and human phenomena that are spatial and can be mapped. Characteristics of place often can be explained by the human and physical processes that define the geographic patterns of our planet. The geography of a place is a mosaic of factors, including the patterns and processes that define the three remaining fundamental themes: human-environmental relations, movement, and regions.
Landforms: Landforms and the processes that shape the landscape: erosion and deposition by rivers, waves, glaciers, and wind; mountain building, volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics
Climate: Patterns of temperature, humidity and rainfall, cells of air pressure, wind and ocean circulation: the climate of a place affects landform processes, soils, water availability, vegetation, and animal life.
Soils: Natural fertility, suitability to agriculture types and crops, and relations to climate are all important factors of soil.
Natural Vegetation (Flora): Type of environment: desert, tropical rainforest, tundra, or savanna, and the relationship to factors of soil and climate
Animal Life (Fauna): Relationship to environment, climate, soils, and vegetation
Water: Water bodies, the hydrological cycle, availability of fresh water, areas of water deficit and surplus
Religion: Human belief systems and their imprints on places
Languages: Human communication and its imprint on places: names of places and features are often geographically descriptive in their original language
Population Factors: Description, distributions, density, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, and economic structures, rates of birth, death, and population growth
Settlement Patterns: Urban, rural, suburban, wilderness areas, and the form of settlements
Economic Activities: How people make a living, including agriculture, industry, forestry, fishing, and providing services, the imprint of an economic system on the landscape
Next: Human-Environmental Relations
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