Human Geography - High School

Review these human geography terms and learn all about the human forces that shape and are shaped by the natural world.You'll explore immigration and emigration, colonialism, development and urbanization, demography, globalization, and much more. Expand the boundaries of your vocabulary with this list!


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definitions & notes
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  1. acculturation

    the adoption of the behavior patterns of one's surroundings
  2. agribusiness

    a large-scale farming enterprise
  3. air pollution

    pollution of the atmosphere
  4. animism

    the doctrine that all natural objects have souls
  5. annexation

    the act of acquiring something by conquest or occupation
  6. apartheid

    a social policy of racial segregation
  7. assimilation

    the process of absorbing one cultural group into another
  8. asylum

    a shelter from danger or hardship
  9. autonomy

    political independence
  10. balance of power

    an equilibrium of power between nations
  11. Balkanize

    divide a territory into small, hostile states
  12. biodiversity

    the variety of plant and animal life in a habitat
  13. biomass

    the total amount of living matter in a given unit area
  14. birth rate

    the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 population per year
  15. bloc

    a group of countries in special alliance
  16. boundary

    a line determining the limits of an area
  17. brain drain

    depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel
  18. buffer state

    a neutral country situated between two rival powers
  19. capital

    a seat of government
  20. cartography

    the making of maps and charts
  21. caste

    a social class separated by distinctions of hereditary rank
  22. census

    a periodic count of the population
  23. cereal

    grass whose starchy grains are used as food: wheat
  24. chlorofluorocarbon

    a fluorocarbon with chlorine
  25. city-state

    a state consisting of a sovereign city
  26. cohort

    a group of people having approximately the same age
  27. colonialism

    exploitation by a stronger country of weaker one
  28. colonization

    the act of settling a group of people in a new place
  29. colony

    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  30. combine

    harvester that threshes grain while moving across the field
  31. concentration

    the spatial property of being crowded together
  32. confederation

    a union of political organizations
  33. connectivity

    the property of being connected or the degree to which something has connections
  34. conservation

    careful management of the environment and natural resources
  35. cosmogony

    the branch of astrophysics that studies the origin and evolution and structure of the universe
  36. cottage industry

    small-scale industry that can be carried on at home by family members using their own equipment
  37. creole

    a mother tongue that originates from contact between two languages
  38. crop

    a cultivated plant that is grown commercially
  39. cultivation

    production of food by preparing the land to grow crops
  40. culture

    all the knowledge and values shared by a society
  41. custom

    a specific practice of long standing
  42. daylight-savings time

    time during which clocks are set one hour ahead of local standard time; widely adopted during summer to provide extra daylight in the evenings
  43. decolonization

    the action of changing from colonial to independent status
  44. delimitation

    a line that indicates a boundary
  45. demarcation

    the boundary of a specific area
  46. demilitarized zone

    a zone from which military forces or operations or installations are prohibited
  47. demographic

    a statistic characterizing human populations
  48. demography

    the study of the characteristics of human populations
  49. denomination

    a group of religious congregations with its own organization
  50. density

    the spatial property of being crowded together
  51. deportation

    the expulsion of a non-citizen from a country
  52. desertification

    a gradual transformation into arid, uninhabitable land
  53. development

    making some area of land or water more profitable or useful
  54. devolution

    the process of declining from a higher to a lower level
  55. dialect

    the usage or vocabulary characteristic of a group of people
  56. diaspora

    the dispersion of something that was originally localized
  57. diffusion

    spread of social institutions from one society to another
  58. diocese

    a district that is under the jurisdiction of a bishop
  59. displaced person

    a person forced to flee from home or country
  60. distribution

    the property of being scattered about over a range or area
  61. domain

    territory over which rule or control is exercised
  62. domino theory

    a theory of how nations will come under communist control
  63. ecology

    study of the relations of organisms to their environment
  64. emigration

    moving from one place in order to settle in another
  65. enclave

    an enclosed territory that is culturally distinct
  66. endemic

    native to or confined to a certain region
  67. epidemic

    a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
  68. epidemiology

    science dealing with the transmission and control of disease
  69. equator

    an imaginary line around the Earth forming a great circle
  70. ethnic

    distinctive of the ways of living of a group of people
  71. ethnic cleansing

    the mass expulsion and killing of one ethnic or religious group in an area by another ethnic or religious group in that area
  72. ethnicity

    an affiliation resulting from racial or cultural ties
  73. ethnocentrism

    belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group
  74. eugenics

    the study of improving qualities by selective breeding
  75. explorer

    someone who travels to unknown regions to make discoveries
  76. fertility rate

    the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 population per year
  77. floodplain

    a low plain adjacent to a river that is formed chiefly of river sediment and is subject to flooding
  78. fossil fuel

    energy-producing substance derived from preserved organisms
  79. frontier

    an international boundary or the area immediately inside it
  80. fundamentalism

    the interpretation of sacred texts as literal truth
  81. genocide

    systematic killing of a racial or cultural group
  82. gentrification

    the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class
  83. geopolitics

    the study of the effects of economic geography on the powers of the state
  84. ghetto

    a poor densely populated city district
  85. globalization

    growth to a worldwide scale
  86. Global Positioning System

    a navigational system involving satellites and computers that can determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on Earth by computing the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver
  87. greenbelt

    a belt of parks or rural land surrounding a town or city
  88. greenhouse effect

    warming when solar radiation is trapped by the atmosphere
  89. green revolution

    the introduction of pesticides and high-yield grains and better management during the 1960s and 1970s which greatly increased agricultural productivity
  90. Greenwich Mean Time

    the local time at the 0 meridian passing through Greenwich, England; it is the same everywhere
  91. gross domestic product

    the measure of an economy adopted by the United States in 1991; the total market values of goods and services produced by workers and capital within a nation's borders during a given period (usually 1 year)
  92. guest worker

    a person with temporary permission to work in another country
  93. homeland

    the country where you were born
  94. horticulture

    the cultivation of plants
  95. hydroelectric

    of or relating to or used in the production of electricity by waterpower
  96. ideogram

    a graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it
  97. immigration

    movement of persons into a place
  98. imperialism

    a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries
  99. Industrial Revolution

    the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation
  100. infant mortality rate

    the death rate during the first year of life
  101. infectious disease

    a disease transmitted only by a specific kind of contact
  102. inflation

    a general and progressive increase in prices
  103. infrastructure

    basic facilities needed for the functioning of a country
  104. International Date Line

    an imaginary line on the surface of the earth following (approximately) the 180th meridian
  105. irredenta

    a region that is related ethnically or historically to one country but is controlled politically by another
  106. irredentism

    the doctrine that irredenta should be controlled by the country to which they are ethnically or historically related
  107. kinship

    relatedness or connection by blood or marriage or adoption
  108. landlocked

    surrounded entirely or almost entirely by land
  109. latitude

    an imaginary line around the Earth parallel to the equator
  110. life expectancy

    an expected time to live as calculated on the basis of statistical probabilities
  111. lingua franca

    a common language used by speakers of different languages
  112. literacy

    the ability to read and write
  113. longitude

    the angular distance from the prime meridian at Greenwich
  114. mass production

    the production of large quantities of a standardized article
  115. megalopolis

    a very large urban complex
  116. mercantilism

    a system of increasing wealth through colonization and trade
  117. meridian

    an imaginary great circle on the surface of the earth
  118. migration

    the movement of persons from one locality to another
  119. missionary

    someone sent to a foreign country to spread a religion
  120. mobility

    the quality of moving freely
  121. monotheism

    belief in a single God
  122. mortality rate

    the ratio of deaths in an area to the population of that area; expressed per 1000 per year
  123. nation

    a politically organized body of people under a government
  124. nationalism

    the doctrine that your country's interests are superior
  125. nationality

    the status of belonging to a particular country
  126. NATO

    an international organization created in 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty for purposes of collective security
  127. natural resource

    resources (actual and potential) supplied by nature
  128. nomad

    a member of a people who have no permanent home
  129. overpopulation

    too much population
  130. ozone

    a colorless gas that is a screen for ultraviolet radiation
  131. paddy

    an irrigated or flooded field where rice is grown
  132. pagan

    a person following a polytheistic or pre-Christian religion
  133. pandemic

    an outbreak of disease that is geographically widespread
  134. parallel

    an imaginary line around the Earth even with the equator
  135. pasture

    a field covered with grass and suitable for grazing
  136. patriotism

    love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it
  137. periphery

    the outside boundary or surface of something
  138. photovoltaic cell

    a cell that converts solar energy into electrical energy
  139. pidgin

    a simplified language allowing communication between groups
  140. pilgrimage

    a journey to a sacred place
  141. plantation

    an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
  142. polder

    low-lying land that has been reclaimed and is protected by dikes (especially in the Netherlands)
  143. polytheism

    belief in multiple gods
  144. population

    the people who inhabit a territory or state
  145. population growth

    increase in the number of people who inhabit a territory or state
  146. preservation

    the activity of protecting something from loss or danger
  147. prime meridian

    meridian from which east and west are reckoned
  148. productivity

    the quality of yielding positive results
  149. projection

    the representation of a figure or solid on a plane
  150. proselytize

    convert or try to convert someone to another religion
  151. public housing

    a housing development that is publicly funded and administered for low-income families
  152. quota

    a prescribed number
  153. racism

    the prejudice that one people are superior to another
  154. ranching

    farming for the raising of livestock (particularly cattle)
  155. reaper

    farm machine that gathers a food crop from the fields
  156. reapportionment

    a new apportionment
  157. recycling

    the act of processing used or abandoned materials for use in creating new products
  158. redline

    discriminate in selling or renting housing in certain areas of a neighborhood
  159. refugee

    an exile who flees for safety
  160. region

    a large indefinite location on the surface of the Earth
  161. regionalism

    political policy that focuses on particular geographic areas
  162. remittance

    a payment of money sent to a person in another place
  163. renewable resource

    any natural resource (as wood or solar energy) that can be replenished naturally with the passage of time
  164. repatriation

    the act of returning to one's country of origin
  165. resource

    a new or reserve supply that can be drawn upon when needed
  166. reunification

    the act of coming together again
  167. scale

    the ratio between the size of a thing and its representation
  168. secession

    formal separation from an alliance or federation
  169. sect

    a subdivision of a larger religious group
  170. secular

    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  171. secularism

    a doctrine that rejects religious considerations
  172. segregation

    a social system with separate facilities for minority groups
  173. settlement

    people far from home who maintain ties with their homeland
  174. sharecropper

    a tenant farmer who owes a portion of each harvest for rent
  175. sovereignty

    government free from external control
  176. sphere

    the geographical area in which one nation is influential
  177. sprawl

    the disorganized spread of development beyond city limits
  178. standard of living

    a level of material comfort in terms of goods and services available to someone or some group
  179. subsistence farming

    farming that provides for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing
  180. suffrage

    a legal right to vote
  181. superpower

    a country that can influence events throughout the world
  182. supranational

    transcending established national boundaries or spheres of interest
  183. sustainability

    the capacity of being prolonged
  184. sustainable

    capable of being prolonged
  185. symbol

    an arbitrary sign with a conventional significance
  186. syncretism

    the union of different systems of thought or belief
  187. taboo

    a ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
  188. terrorism

    the use of violence against civilians for ideological goals
  189. textile

    artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting fibers
  190. Thomas Malthus

    an English economist who argued that increases in population would outgrow increases in the means of subsistence (1766-1834)
  191. time zone

    any of the 24 regions of the globe (loosely divided by longitude) throughout which the same standard time is used
  192. toponym

    the name by which a geographical place is known
  193. township

    an administrative division of a county
  194. transnational

    involving or operating in several countries
  195. treaty

    a written agreement between two states or sovereigns
  196. underclass

    the social class lowest in the social hierarchy
  197. underpopulated

    having a lower population density than normal or desirable
  198. United Nations

    an organization of independent states formed in 1945 to promote international peace and security
  199. urbanization

    the social process whereby cities grow
  200. urban renewal

    the clearing and rebuilding and redevelopment of urban slums
  201. value-added tax

    a tax levied on the difference between a commodity's price before taxes and its cost of production
  202. zoning

    dividing an area into zones or sections reserved for different purposes such as residence and business and manufacturing etc
Created on March 2, 2017
(updated March 31, 2017)