What Are the Five Major Themes of Geography?

The five themes of geography include location, place, human-environment interactions, movement and regions. The National Council for Geographic Education developed the five themes in 1984 as a method for teaching geography to students.

Location refers to a place's location on the earth's surface. Location can be absolute or relative. Absolute locations are defined by latitude and longitude or by address, while relative locations define a location in relation to another location.

Place is defined by human and physical characteristics. Human characteristics are anything that is human-made, such as language, culture, buildings and roads. Physical characteristics are anything that is made by nature, such as mountains, soil and rocks.

Human-environment interactions are how people interact with the environment. Humans interact with the environment by modifying it, adapting to it or depending on it. Modifying includes changing the environment, such as building houses or cutting trees. Adapting means that humans change their lifestyle to survive in the environment, such as air-conditioning a house in a hot climate. Humans depend on the environment if they rely on it for survival, such as by growing crops or fishing.

Movement defines how humans, goods and ideas move between places and shows how places interact with each other.

Region is an area that is defined by common characteristics. The two types of regions are physical and political. Nature, such as deserts, mountains and lakes, defines physical regions. Humans define political regions by drawing political boundaries, such as the borders of states and countries.