Geography and History of the World © 2010 Indiana Edition
The Human World
Geographers study how the earth's features influence human life and how humans
affect the earth.
World Population Global population is growing rapidly, placing more
demands on food production, but the rate of population growth varies from place
to place. Negative population growth creates a lack of workers, and some countries
must recruit foreign workers or encourage immigration. Population distribution
varies greatly from place to place, often as a result of migration from villages
to cities for better economic opportunities or from country to country due to
wars, food shortages, or lack of jobs.
Global Cultures A society's culture is made up of many elements. Language
is a strong unifying force. Religion provides a sense of identity but can also
be a source of conflict. Governments and economic activities also help geographers
divide the earth into culture regions. Cultures may change due to internal factors
such as new ideas and inventions or because of spatial interaction such as trade,
migration, or war. The first civilizations arose in culture hearths, which were
farming settlements near rivers. Today, cultural diffusion has increased rapidly
due to industrialization and the Information Revolution.
World Religions There are seven major worldwide religions and many local, indigenous religions. Religions can be monotheistic, polytheistic, or mainly philosophical. Regardless of the type, religion often has an impact upon society and its culture.
Political and Economic Systems The governments of the world's nearly
200 independent countries manage their individual territories, their populations,
and their global relationships. Governments are organized in levels ranging
from local to national. Power in a unitary government rests solely in the national
government, while in a federal system power is divided between national and
state or provincial governments. A single individual holds the power to govern
in an autocracy, in an oligarchy a small group holds power, and in a democracy
the leaders rule with the consent of citizens. Economic systems include a traditional
economy, where habit and custom determine rules; a market economy based on free
enterprise; and a command economy, where the government controls decisions.
Mixed economies combine free enterprise with government support and regulations.
Resources, Trade, and the Environment Different countries' economic
activities depend on the resources available. While renewable resources can
be used as needed, nonrenewable natural resources need to be conserved to meet
future needs. Developed countries have manufacturing and service industries
and high standards of living. Developing countries are shifting from agricultural
to industrial economies. The uneven distribution of natural resources promotes
world trade. Multinational companies stimulate trade, and governments work to
reduce trade barriers. Economic activities have led to increased pollution of
the air, land, and water, causing damage to ecosystems.