Skip to contentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Site Left NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site SearchSkip to FooterDownload Adobe Reader
Cultural Geography
Home » People » Scott Therkalsen » Cultural Geography » Practice Questions

Cultural Geography Questions

Introducing Cultural Geography

1. What is geography? Explain the two sides.

2. What is culture (and for that matter, what is not culture)? Explain some examples of culture.

3. What are the two major types of maps we discussed? What’s the difference between the two? Be sure you can recognize which is which.

4. What are geographic information systems and how do they work?

5. What is the global grid? What are the lines based on? Differentiate the lines of the grid and make sure you can read and understand latitude and longitude coordinates. (How does the grid “zoom in” for more detail?)

6. What is “political time?” On what basis on the time zones divided/established?

7. What is the difference between relative and absolute location?

8. What is a toponym? What clues can they tell us about place? What are some of the problems associated with toponyms?

9. What is the difference between site and situation?

10. What is a region? Explain the different types of regions

12. How is space described? Differences between the three manners discussed in class? Examples?

13. What is diffusion? What is a hearth?

14. What is the difference between relocation and expansion diffusion?

15. Explain hierarchical, contagious and stimulus diffusion and provide examples of each.

16. What is meant by the terms globalization, space-time compression, and distance decay? How are these terms related and conflicting?

17. Compare and contrast the arguments for and against globalization.


1. How/where do humans fit into the history of the earth?

2. What /when was the “agricultural revolution?” Why/how is it important in human history?

3. Explain how variables such as climate, geologic type, animal resources, area/isolation, and terrain influence societal development and the switch to an agricultural lifestyle.

4. Explain the advantages gained by a society which has shifted to sedentary agriculture over one that is still hunter-gatherer.

5. Where were the first five areas (mentioned in class) that food production independently began?

6. Why was the Fertile Crescent the most successful and fastest area to shift to an agricultural lifestyle? What were the results of this?

7. What variables influence diffusion? Compare and contrast diffusion in Asia and the Americas.

8. Explain some of the differences between bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states.

9. Explain how food production (and thus density and complexity) lead to some of the characteristics associated with states.

10. Compare the ultimate results of European contact in Australia versus New Guinea. Explain the reasons for the ultimate result.

 11. Explain how the history of China and Polynesia were influenced by geography (i.e. what variables were important to the story/variables mentioned in class and outlined through the questions above).

12. What happened when Europeans encountered the Americas and WHY? (be specific)

13. Explain the history of African Colonization and what role geography (latitude and climate specifically) played in determining  the ultimate outcomes.





1. Graph the world’s population over time. What is the population of the world today? Where is the growth concentrated? Which are the three most populous countries today?

2. What is Ecumene? How has it changed historically?

3. Quantify population changes.

4. What is the difference between arithmetic density and physiological density?

5. Why do we have a census?

6. What types of things contribute to population changes?

7. Define and explain the different population measures (i.e. crude birth/death rate, total fertility rate, infant mortality rate, life expectancy).

8. What is “rate of natural increase?” Where is it high/low and Why?

9. What do population pyramids tell us about a population? Be familiar with interpreting these.

10. When/What caused the big population “jumps” throughout history? What is the “medicine/green revolution?

11. Explain the demographic transition theory and the results that are associated with each stage of it.

12. Explain overpopulation (is the world overpopulated? Is it a problem? What do the two sides say?) How can population growth be controlled?

13. What are the regional population characteristics of regions we discussed and what do these say about that population? (East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Northern Africa, Europe, and the United States)


1. What is migration? What’s the difference between emigration and immigration?

2. What are the 3 types of migration discussed in class? (Provide examples of each)

3. What is a push/pull factor? List some examples of push and pull factors.

4. Reasons for migration can be summarized into 3 categories, what are these? What are examples of each? Most migrants move for which reason?

5. What is a refugee? Spot some cultural and political refugees from around the world (current and historical)

6. What were the big global migrations that populated the world of today to a large extent? What was spread, has become dominant as a result?

7. What is the general trend of migration today? (i.e. from where to where)

8. What are some of the impacts of migration on the destination state? Explain these in detail.

9. What are some of the impacts of migration on the supplier state of the migrant? Explain these in detail. (What are remittances? How important are they)

10. Who were the first people to migrate to America?

11. Graph American immigration history. What did the “first wave” of migration to America look like (when was it, who were the people?); the second wave? The third, today?

12. How have immigration laws changed in the United States over the years (what was the goal of the first ones, changes over time, what is the specific immigration law/numbers today?)

13. Where do most migrants coming to America today end up? Why these places?

14. What have been the patterns of internal migration or population shift in America to date? What are the reasons associated with this shift/migration.

15. What are some of the issues raised by the film “Farmingville?” (How is the community effected, what is the problem, solution, arguments for against immigration, etc.)



1. What is language as we defined it? Why is it so important in our study of cultural geography? When did language begin?

2. How many languages are there in the world? What are the reasons that an exact number hard to pinpoint?

3. What are the most common languages spoken in the world?

4. Why is English so important and prevalent in the world today?

5. By what processes do languages evolve and diffuse?

6. What are the origins/history of the English language? Is this history similar or unique from the general history of all languages?

7. What is language reconstruction? In what ways do linguists reconstruct languages?

8. How are languages classified? What is a language family tree? What does the general indo-European family tree look like (especially the main branches and the branch leading to the evolution of English)?

9. What is an Isolate? Examples?

10. What are some of the characteristics of the major language families of the world? (Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Afro-Asiatic, Austronesian, Dravidian, Altaic, Niger-Congo, Japanese, Amerindian)

11. What are the proposed origins of Indo-European?

12. What is “paralanguage?”

13. What is writing? Why is it an important means of communication?

14. Where did writing arise independently? How does writing diffuse?

15. What are the three different forms/symbols writing may take?

16. What is the history/evolution of writing that led to the alphabet we use today?  


1. What is religion, as we defined it?

2. What are the basic components of Universalizing religions and Ethnic Religions?

3. What doe secular mean?

4. What is animism, what is tribal religion?

5. How are religions classified? (what is a branch, denomination, sect) Example with Christianity…

6. What affect does religion have on the cultural landscape? (you should refer to material aspects, gastronomical ideas, schedules, gender issues, settlement patterns, relationship to the environment, conflict, morals, etc.)

7. List and more importantly understand the major components (ex: founder, founded, books, branches, adherents, origins, history, and major tenets) of the world’s major religions (including: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism, Sikhism, African Ethnic Religions).

9. Explain the development and differences between the major branches of Christianity and the major branches of Islam.

10. Compare the lineage of the major religions, specifically Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

12. Compare Universal Religions with Ethnic religions in terms of 1. Their origins, 2. Their diffusion, 3. Their holy places, 4. Their holy dates, 5. Their organization.

13. What is a theocracy, how is it different from a state religion?

14. For what types of reasons do religious conflicts occur?

15. Explain some of the current and past “religion/government conflicts.

16. Explain some of the past “religion/religion” conflicts we spoke about in class.

17. What is the history and why is their major conflict in the middle east (Israel/Palestine)?



1. What is “race?” What is Ethnicity? What are the differences?

2. What are the major ethnic groups of the United States? Where are ethnic groups in the United States distributed? Why does the distribution pattern exist as it does?

3. Explain each of the major 5 ethnic distributions/diffusions in the United States (European Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans)

4. Explain the idea of the “Melting Pot” What is acculturation? What is assimilation?

5. What is a nationality? How do states inspire “national” unity?

6. What are ethnic neighborhoods? Where are they? Why are they where they are?

7. What is redling? Blockbusting?

8. Why do ethnic conflicts occur? What is ethnic cleansing?

9. Explain and analyze some of the historical and current ethnic conflicts from around the world.



1. What is a state? What is a “nation?” what is a nation-state, a stateless nation?

2. How many states exist today? Why the discrepancy?

3. What is ultimately responsible for the reorganization of power leading eventually to the concept of “state?” (Explain the evolution of the concept of a state)

4. Explain the history of the territorial expansion of the United States.

5. Compare Latin American and African independence.

6. What is a political boundary? How does it relate to air space, underground, maritime activities?

7. Explain the different reasons borders may be drawn and refer to specific examples of each (i.e. cultural…physical…geometric)

8. What are the 5 basic shapes of states? Examples of each?

9. Explain the difference between a federal state and a unitary state? Example of each…

10. What is “gerrymandering?” 3 different types…

11. How has the authority of the “state” changed over time?

12. What are the major international alliances that exist today (i.e. NATO, OAS, AU, EU and the UN)

13. What is terrorism? Is it the biggest threat to American lives?



1. What is development? How do geographers study it?

2. Explain the economic indicators geographers examine to determine a country’s level of development (GDP, Types of jobs, worker productivity, raw materials, consumer goods). Explain how each of these indicates development; what do the spatial patterns of these economic indicators look like.

3. What is not measured in the above economic indicators?

4. Explain the social indicators geographers examine to determine a country’s level of development (education/literacy, health and welfare). Explain how each of these indicates development; what do the spatial patterns of these economic indicators look like.

5. Explain the demographic indicators geographers examine to determine a country’s level of development (life expectancy, infant mortality, crude birth rate, natural increase rate). Explain how each of these indicates development; what do the spatial patterns of these economic indicators look like.

6. How is gender related to development? Where do gender inequalities exist? How is gender development measured? (explain GDI, GEM)

7. What is the human development index? Which factors contribute to it?

8. What does the world spatial distribution of development look like? (where are MDCs/LDCs found?)

9. What are some of the reasons we explained for underdevelopment in the LDCs?

10. What is dependency theory?

11. What are the more developed regions of the world? What are the general and individual characteristics of these regions?

12. What are the less developed regions of the world? What are the general and individual characteristics of these regions?

13. What is the development trend today?

14. What are some of the solutions offered to develop less developed countries?

            Explain the self-sufficiency approach and problems associated with it.

            Explain the international trade approach and some problems associated with it.

15. Explain Rostow’s Development model. Where do current societies fit into it?

16. What types of organizations promote international trade? How do they promote it? What do their critics say?

17. What organizations provide loans to help spur development? What’s the problems with them? What are structural adjustment programs?

18. What is the fair trade model?

19. What is Micro credit?



1. How has the distribution of wealth in America changed in the past 20 years?

2. What is poverty in America (poverty line)?

3. How has poverty in America changed since the 1960’s?

4. Why is poverty prevalent in the areas that it is?

5. Which are the groups most at risk of poverty?



1. What is the occupation/activity that most of the world works in?

2. What are the three agricultural revolutions? Explain each in detail.

3. What are the differences between agriculture in more developed countries and in less developed countries? (purpose, % farmers, machinery, farm size, related businesses, etc.)

4. How is agriculture related to climate and development?

5. Explain in detail the different types of agriculture practiced in less developed countries:

            Shifting Cultivation

            Rice paddy/intensive subsistence agriculture

            Nomadic herding

            Plantation farming

            Urban agriculture

6. Explain in detail the different types of agriculture practiced in more developed countries:

            Mixed crop and Livestock

            Grain farming


            Livestock ranching

            Dairy farming

            Mediterranean/market garden agriculture

7. Explain some of the challenges facing farmers both in more developed countries and less developed countries.

8. Explain why hunger continues to exist in the world and explain some of the solutions proposed to increase the amount of food produced.

9. What was the industrial revolution? Where did it originate? And where and why did it diffuse to which places first?

10. Explain the differences between a primary, secondary and tertiary industry.

11. What types of factors influence the distribution of industry? (provide some examples of these factors).

12. Where do we find major industry located throughout the world (why these four regions) and where do we find industry located throughout the United States (why these regions)?

13 How has industry changed from the 20th century to today?

14. What is time space compression?

15. Where is industry moving to/expanding (internationally and within the US)? What is a Maquiladora?

16. What are the different types of SERVICES?

17. What determines where services are located?

18. What is the central business district? What is and is not located there?

19. Which types of services are moving to less developed countries and why?


1. Explain the different ways to define an “urban area” (legal, urbanized, functional)

2. What is the world wide urbanization trend? How does urbanization differ in MDCs and LDCs?

3. For what reasons have cities been important historically?

4. Explain the different models explaining the development, usage and patterns of cities

            Concentric zone model

            Sector model

            Multiple Nuclei model

How does these relate to San Diego?

5. Compare European, American and Latin American Cities. Why do each look the way they do?

6. Explain the many American inner city problems we spoke of.

7. What is gentrification?

8. What is decentralization? What one factor spurred decentralization more than any other? What kinds of government policies encouraged decentralization?

9. What types of problems have been created by decentralization/suburban sprawl?


1. What is a resource? What’s the difference between renewable and non-renewable?

2. Explain where the energy in fossil fuels comes from. What are the problems with fossil fuels?

3. How is the global energy consumption shifting? How much fossil fuels are left?

4. What types of renewable resources maybe alternative? Explain how they provide energy and some of the pros and cons of each.

5. What is pollution?

6. What type of environmental problems does the atmosphere face? Explain these.

7. What types of problems does the hydrosphere face? Explain these (you should use local examples whenever possible).

8. What types of “land based” problems did we speak about? Explain these.

9. Explain in detail what “global warming” is. Make sure you truly understand the idea and have cleared up any previous misconceptions.

10. Explain the following in regards to global warming 1. Evidence for, 2. Controversial areas, 3. What skeptics say.

11. Explain some of the environmental problems facing California.


Last Updated: 12/07/2014
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District