Friday, January 1, 2016

The five basic themes in geography - Geography and World History

Modern geography focuses on five basic themes, or topics: location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and regions. Each of these five basic themes helps to clarify the relationship between the world's physical landscape and its human occupants. These relationships, of course, have a time span as well as a spatial context.

The Five Basic Themes in Geography

1- Location
2- Place
3- Human-Environment Interaction
4- Movement 
5- Regions 

Location. The first theme, location, has two aspects. Absolute location deals with the exact, or precise, spot on Earth that a place occupies. Relative location, on the other hand, describes the position of a particular place in relation to other places.

The latitude and longitude of a place best describes its absolute location. To calculate latitude and longitude, geographers use a grid formed by a series of imaginary lines drawn around Earth. (See globe on this page.) The equator, an imaginary line that circles Earth halfway between the North and South Poles, divides Earth into two halves, or hemispheres. Geographers call these hemispheres the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Several shorter imaginary lines called parallels, or lines of latitude, circle Earth, parallel to the equator.

Geographers identify the parallels through a special numbering system based on degrees. In the Northern Hemisphere, the parallels number from zero degrees (0°) at the equator to ninety degrees north (90°N) at the North Pole. Similarly, in the Southern Hemisphere, they run from 0° at the equator to 90° S at the South Pole.

Another set of imaginary lines called meridians, or lines of longitude is used to measure Earth east and west. The prime meridian which runs from pole to pole through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England serves as 0° longitude. The meridian directly opposite the prime meridian, on the other side of the globe, is the 180° meridian. The prime meridian and the 180° meridian together divide Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The Eastern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that extends east of the prime meridian to the 180° meridian. The Western Hemisphere is the half of Earth west of the prime meridian to the 180° meridian.

Together, parallels and meridians form an imaginary grid over Earth. Since each degree of latitude and longitude can be broken into 60' (60 minutes), and each minute can be broken into 60" (60 seconds), the grid fixes the precise location of any place on Earth's surface. For example, the absolute location of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is 35°41' north and 105°57' west. No other place on Earth is located at exactly this same place.

The relative location of a place is often described in terms of direction and distance from another place. Santa Fe's relative location, for example, might be expressed as 58 miles northeast of Albuquerque. Other ways of describing relative location include nearness to resources and accessibility to trade routes.

Place. Place has to do with a location's physical and human characteristics. Every location on Earth has its own unique, or distinctive, physical and human characteristics. Physical characteristics include the shape of the land, climate, soils, vegetation, and animal life. Land use, street layout, architecture, and population distribution are a location's human characteristics. Physically, Santa Fe is in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains. Its human characteristics include its traditional Pueblo and Spanish architecture. Together, the physical and human characteristics make up a location's place identity. This identity changes through time and is therefore very important to an understanding of history.

Human-Environment Interaction. Throughout time, people have adapted their way of life to accommodate to their environment. For example, people who live in hot, dry climates such as in Sante Fe and other parts of the American Southwest have built houses of adobe, or sun-dried clay bricks. Even in extreme heat, the adobe helps to keep the house cool.

People also have made changes to their physical environment. For instance, they have cleared forests, dug irrigation ditches, and built huge cities. Geographers consider all the ways in which people interact with their natural environment.

The theme of human-environment interaction is of great importance to historians, for it concerns not only the ways in which people interact with their physical surroundings but also the consequences of such interactions. For example, the decision to mine and use fossil fuels to produce energy had the negative consequence of polluting the environment. This consequence, in turn, gave rise to people acting together to protect their environment. Such actions are of great interest to historians.

Movement. The fourth theme of modern geography, movement, concerns the interactions of people with one another as they travel, communicate, and exchange goods and services on a worldwide basis. Through much of its history, for example, Santa Fe has been a trading center for ranchers, farmers, and American Indians. Movement also includes an examination of the spread of ideas and the great human migrations that have occurred through the centuries two vital issues in the study of history.

Regions. In order to better study and understand Earth, geographers think of it in units called regions. A region is an area having a specific characteristic or characteristics. The characterisics used to define a region may be physical features such as climate, vegetation, and landforms, or they may be cultural features such as a dominant religion or language. The particular features that characterize a region set it apart from other regions. Since there are different kinds of regions, any given area might be part of several regions. For example, Sante Fe is the state capital of New Mexico (a political region), at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains (a climate region), and it has a large Spanish-American population (a cultural region).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Ancient Rome and The Peninsula of Italy

Ancient Rome

Geography of Ancient Rome
After the death of Alexander in 323 B.C., control in the Mediterranean slowly shifted from the Balkan Peninsula to the peninsula of Italy. Over the centuries, many peoples had settled there, among them the Latins. The Latins migrated across the Alps from central Europe. These farmers and herders founded Rome in the eighth century B.C.

Geography of Ancient Rome

The Peninsula of Italy
The Italian peninsula lies just west of the Balkan Peninsula. It is shaped like a long, high-heeled boot. The peninsula is about 700 miles (1,127 km) long and only about 100 miles (161 km) wide for much of its length. The "toe" of the boot seems aimed to kick the nearby island of Sicily. Beyond Sicily, less than 100 miles (161 km) across the Mediterranean Sea, lies the northern coast of Africa.

Peninsula of Italy
Seas surround Italy on all sides except the north. The Tyrrhenian (tuh»REE»nee»uhn) lies to the west, the Adriatic to the east, and the Mediterranean to the south.

Along the northern border of Italy rises a range of snowcapped mountains called the Alps. The Alps separate the Italian peninsula from the rest of Europe. The steepest peak of the Alps rises as high as 15,771 feet (4,807 meters). Another range of mountains, the Apennines (A»puh»nynz), runs the length of the peninsula. Between these two high ranges lies an area of lower land called the Po Valley.

Peninsula of Italy
While some of Italy is made up of valleys and plains, most has higher elevations. However, the hills and mountains in Italy are less rugged than those in Greece. So land travel and trade were easier for the early people of Italy than for the early Greeks. Travel and trade by sea were more difficult, however. Although Italy has a long coastline, the peninsula has few good harbors. Because of this, the early people of Italy traded more with each other than with outsiders across the seas.

How did geography affect the way early people of the Italian peninsula traded?

Alexander's Great Empire and Conquest of Greece

Alexander's Great Empire
No one leader had ever ruled over the many different Greek city-states. That would soon change, however. In time, young Alexander the Great controlled lands that stretched from the Greek peninsula to northern India. This leader created the largest empire the world had known.

Conquest of Greece

Conquest of Greece

Conflict and distrust grew among the ancient Greeks after the Peloponnesian War. City-states formed alliances, or agreements to help each other, but most of these alliances did not last long. A friend in one conflict became an enemy in the next. Each city-state put its own interests above the common good of Greece. Sparta lost all of its power during this period, while Athens became the leader of a second Delian League.

Meanwhile, in Macedonia, an area north of the Greek city-states on the Balkan Peninsula, a strong king came to the throne. Philip II had brought his own people together under one rule. He wanted to do the same for the rest of the Greek mainland.

Conquest of Greece

Even the combined armies of Athens and Thebes could not stop Philip's well-trained Macedonian soldiers. Philip's armies moved south through northern and central Greece. In 338 B.C. his army defeated Athens and its allies in an important fight known as the Battle of Chaeronea (ker»uh»NEE»uh).

With this victory Philip gained control of most of the Greek peninsula.

The Macedonians did not take over Greece to destroy it. Philip greatly respected Greek culture and sought to preserve it, not end it.

With Greece under his control, Philip required that the city-states join the League of Corinth, which he headed. To join the League of Corinth, each city-state had to promise not to fight any other member of the league.

Conquest of Greece

With Greece under his control, Philip looked toward Asia. He wanted to free all Greek cities under Persian control. In 336 B.C. Philip sent a small army to Asia. He planned to send his entire army there later.

King Philip did not live to fight the Persians. The king was assassinated by a Macedonian in 336 B.C. while attending his daughter's wedding. His rule passed to his 20-year-old son Alexander.

What ruler united Greece and where was he from ?

Ancient Greece and Alexander's Legacy

Alexander's Legacy
The empire may not have lasted, but the Hellenistic culture that started with Alexander did. As in the time of Pericles, great thinkers of the Hellenistic Age changed people's understanding of the world.
Alexander's Legacy
Alexandria, Egypt, became the leading center of learning in the Hellenistic world. The huge library at Alexandria contained more than 500,000 scrolls, rolled-up sheets of papyrus with writing on them. The goal of its librarians was to collect every text in the world!

Connected to the library was a building known as the Museum. There scholars wrote books and exchanged ideas. Today museums are places that preserve history and offer knowledge.

Hellenistic teachers worked out new ideas in mathematics. Euclid (YOOkluhd) of Alexandria, Egypt, conducted the first work in geometry, the study of lines and angles. Archimedes (ar»kuh»MEE«deez) of Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, used mathematics to build many useful machines.

Alexander's Legacy
Hellenistic scientists also made use of mathematics as they began to think about the universe. For example, Aristarchus (air»uh»STAR»kuhs) used mathematics to discover that Earth moves in a path around the sun.

Hellenistic scientists built on the knowledge of medicine that Hippocrates had introduced. Alexandria, Egypt, became the center for the study of medicine and surgery. Doctors there learned that the brain was the center of the nervous system.

Scientists of the Hellenistic period also focused on the study of geography. They not only improved the way maps were drawn but also made new discoveries about the Earth.

Alexander's Legacy
By 146 B.C. another group of people, the Romans, had grown strong enough to gain control of the Mediterranean world. But the knowledge the Greeks had gained was not forgotten. The Romans borrowed from the religion, art, architecture, philosophy, and language of the Greeks to build their own civilization. For many years after the Romans took control, Alexandria, Egypt, remained a center for Greek medical learning.

What city was considered the center of learning during the Hellenistic Age?

The Founding of Ancient Rome

The Founding of Rome
Around the eighth century B.C., a Latin community started on a hill overlooking a bend in the Tiber River. The area proved to be an excellent site, and the village grew into the city of Rome.

Founding of Ancient Rome
The land around Rome offered good soil for farming. It was also near supplies of wood and stone for building. The seven hills on which Rome was built could easily be defended. A stretch of level ground near the river provided a forum, a public place where people could meet and exchange goods and ideas.

Rome's inland location protected the city from pirates. Yet with the sea only about 15 miles (24 km) away, the Romans were close to sources of salt and fish.

Founding of Ancient Rome
Rome's location in the center of the «» peninsula was ideal for communication and trade with the rest of Italy. The Tiber River gave the Romans a route to the sea so that they could also trade with other Mediterranean civilizations. In time, partly because of its location, Rome gained control of sea routes linking Europe, Asia, and Africa. "Not without good reason did gods and men choose this spot as the site of a city," a Roman historian wrote.

Early settlers of Rome told colorful legends to explain how their city began. One legend told of the cruel brother of a Latin king who seized the throne from the rightful leader. When the real king's daughter gave birth to twin boys, the tyrant feared that the boys would grow up to take the throne from him. He left the babies to die on the banks of the Tiber River, but a mother wolf saved the twins and raised them. When Romulus and Remus grew to be adults, they defeated their great-uncle and made their grandfather king again.

Add caption
In 753 B.C., the legend says, the brothers set out to build their own city on the Tiber River near where they had been rescued long ago. They quarreled, however, over which hill to build the new city on, and Remus was killed. Romulus became the first ruler of the new city he founded. His followers named the city Rome in his honor. Romulus promised that the small city would someday rise to greatness. "My Rome shall be the capital of the world," Romulus said.

What advantages did the site of Rome offer?

Ancient Rome and Rich Farmland

Rich Farmland
"Tell me, all you who have journeyed through many lands, have you seen a more richly farmed land than Italy?" asked the Roman writer Varro in the first century B.C. From earliest times, the fertile land and mild climate of Italy attracted many settlers. The Italian peninsula had more arable (AIR »uh« buhl) land than the Balkan Peninsula, where the ancient Greeks lived. Arable land is land that can be used to grow crops. Early settlers were able to grow many different crops instead of importing them from other places.

Ancient Rome

Many rivers in Italy carry mineral-rich silt that creates good farmland. The peninsula's volcanoes have also made much of Italy's soil rich with volcanic ash. Most of the volcanoes have been extinct for a long time. An extinct volcano is a volcano that will never again erupt.

Ancient Rome
Around 1000 B.C. people from central Europe began migrating into the Italian peninsula. These people, who became known as the Latins, settled on land south of the Tiber River. There they raised crops, such as wheat and barley; peas, beans, and other vegetables; and figs, grapes, and olives. They also herded sheep, goats, and cattle. Latin women spun sheep's wool and wove it into fabric for clothing. These early farmers and herders were the ancestors of the Romans.

Ancient Rome
Why was the area along the Tiber River a good place to settle?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alexander's Great Empire and The Breakup of the Empire

The Breakup of the Empire
Alexander the Great now ruled a wide area, but he still wanted more lands. Beyond Persia lay India. Alexander led his soldiers east from Persia to the Indus River. There he fought Porus, an Indian king.

Porus's army had more than 300 chariots and 200 war elephants.
King Porus himself fought from high atop a large elephant. Though these beasts were a terrifying sight, they were not enough to win the battle. After being wounded, Porus surrendered to Alexander's forces. Alexander allowed Porus to continue as ruler of his kingdom.

Alexander planned to push on from the Indus Valley to the Ganges River. However, his conquest-weary soldiers refused to follow. Bitterly disappointed, Alexander turned back to Babylon in 326 B.C.

Shortly after he returned to Babylon, in 323 B.C., Alexander became ill with a fever. He died a few days later, not long before his thirty-third birthday. Legend says that before Alexander's death, a soldier asked, "To whom will rule of the great empire go?" Alexander answered, "To the strongest!"

No one leader proved strong enough to replace Alexander. His empire broke up quickly after his death as his generals fought for control. The empire split into many parts. The largest of these parts were Macedonia, Syria, and Egypt. These three kingdoms were often at war with one another. Even so, these Hellenistic kingdoms continued and built upon many of Alexander's ideas.

Why did Alexander's empire break up after his death?


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