Examples of the Five Themes of Geography

By AmarraE; Updated April 24, 2017
Students sitting in a geography class.

The five themes of geography are location, place, human-environment interaction, movement and region. These five concepts help educators explain how and why we map the Earth, as well as the ways in which people affect and are affected by the Earth. You can find examples of each theme around the world, or you can look closer and discover examples in your personal environment. Use examples of the five themes of geography to help students comprehend the concepts and apply them to their daily lives.


A woman is getting directions from her gps.

Location is divided into two parts: specific location and general location. A specific location is an actual address, like "123 Main Street," or a set of geographical coordinates like "44N58, 93W15." A general location describes where a place is in relation to another place. It does not give a direct address but indicates a place's relative location and its relative distance. For example, the general location of a certain store could be "twenty minutes away by car, next to the bank."

Human–Environment interaction

Worker paving a new road.

Human-environment interaction describes how people work together and how they function in their environment. This interaction divides into three key areas: our dependence on the environment, how we alter the environment and how the environment changes us. Dependence refers to our need for something, like natural resources, from the environment. We alter the environment by, for example, building roads through wildlife areas. The environment also changes us: For example, people in cold climates wear coats in the winter to shield themselves from the cold.


Plains  and flat terrain leading in to the mountains.

Place is a description rather than a location. Place is divided into two categories: human differences and physical differences. Human differences are the ways in which people change and develop a place. These changes may be concrete, as in building construction or cultural. Physical differences describe the ways in which a part of the world is characteristically different from others. For example, some places have mountains, while others have desert terrain.


A globe showing different countries and regions.

Each region has specific characteristics. There are three types of region: government, functional and general. Government regions are formally and politically defined; the United States is a government region, as are the European Union and the city of London. A functional region has specific services designated for that area; school districts, for example, are functional regions. General regions are loosely classified by broad terms. For instance, different parts of the U.S. can be thought of as the South, the Northeast and so on.


A woman is shopping in the produce section at the grocery store.

Movement is the way people travel from place to place, circulate information, trade good and services and share ideas. The way in which food travels to a grocery store or how people travel from one place to another are both examples of movement.