Exploring Our World: People, Places, and Cultures
Earth's Human and Cultural Geography
The world's population has increased rapidly in the past two centuries. One reason for this growth is that the death rate has decreased as a result of better living conditions and health care. Another reason is that some parts of the world have high birthrates. Such growth creates many new challenges. More food is needed, and some countries face shortages of water and housing. These countries are usually those that are more densely populated than other countries. Sometimes people emigrate from their homes to find better living conditions. Often these people move to cities: now, nearly half the world's population lives in cities.
One result of the movement of people is that their cultures move with them. Culture is the way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs. Language, religion, art, and daily life are all part of culture. One cause of cultural change is technology that brings new ways of life. Another cause of cultural change is cultural diffusion—the process of spreading ideas, customs, or languages from one culture to another. Because of the increasing movement of people, as well as technology such as the Internet, we now live in a global culture.
Like people, resources are not distributed evenly around the world, and countries develop economic systems that help them use and manage their resources by deciding what goods to produce and how to produce them. Developed countries have generally strong economies with a mix of agriculture, service, and industry. Developing countries have little industry and rely on agriculture rather than technology and manufacturing.
Trade is important for both developed and developing countries. Because resources are not evenly distributed around the world, countries trade these resources and products made from them with other countries. In recent years, many countries have agreed to eliminate barriers to trade. Growing trade among countries has made the world's people more interdependent.