What Is a Perceptual Region?

Globes 1246245 1280 Credit: Free-Photos/Pixabay

When we think of a region, it describes a common area that shares different characteristics. These characteristics can either be physical or cultural. For example, we can group regions by climate or physical geography such as landforms and water. We can also group regions by cultural ties. A perceptual region is an example of a cultural type of region, as it reflects the culture in specific areas.

What Is a Region?

A region itself is physical or cultural, and defining a reason is based on spatial criteria. Determining a region is based on several factors, including its location as well as common characteristics. For physical regions, these are defined by the physical geography or climate of the region. Attitudes and cultures define cultural ones. There are three different types of regions: formal, functional, and perceptual. 

What Does Perceptual Region Mean?

Perceptual, in this case, is very much equated with the word perception. A perceptual region is defined by an area where attitudes, culture, and feelings are the same. Unfortunately, many times, perceptual regions are based upon stereotypes. Because a perceptual region is based upon cultural characteristics and not physical ones, they can easily change over time. Perceptual regions are also referred to as vernacular regions. They have no defined borders as they are subjective and can be felt differently by individuals. An example of a perceptual region is the “Bible Belt” in the South. 

What Is a Formal Region?

A formal region is completely based on data that can be measured. A geographer will determine a formal region based on shared characteristics such as language, income, or population, or may base a formal reason on physical characteristics such as geography or climate. Geographers may use boundaries found in nature, such as rivers or valleys, to define the boundaries of a formal region. A formal region may be a state, city, or country, or it may be measured by cultural characteristics such as language. A formal region can be defined by an area where more than 50 percent of the population speaks a certain language (such as Spanish). 

What Is a Functional Region?

A functional region ties two or more areas together to exist as one unit. Functional regions are often based on transportation, political systems, economic systems, or communication systems. For example, a highway ties many different points together and is a single unit. Functional regions encompass many different types, however. They could be something as simple as a pizza delivery area, or tying two large cities together, such as Dallas and Fort Worth, because they share the same airport. 

Why Do We Study Geography?

Studying geography and related sciences can help us understand everything from climate change to how fossils are formed. It also helps us understand our world better and how we are all interconnected. Geography is more than just the “big picture” of the world; knowing more about the communities we live in can help us understand our neighbors better. Defining an area as a perceptual region does not necessarily carry a negative connotation; it can help bring residents together culturally. Geography also gives us an understanding of physical and human systems worldwide. 

What Does a Geographer Do?

One of the main functions of a geographer is to collect data. He or she studies maps, notes cultural changes, and takes a hard look at the physical and cultural characteristics of the three different types of regions. Because functional or perceptual regions can change over time, a geographer must be on the lookout for cultural shifts. A geographer may modify or create a map based on this data. A geographer must possess intermediate or advanced math skills, as using statistical analysis is a large part of the job.