Human geography studies population and culture, as well as languages, reli- gions, customs, and economic and political systems. Culture is made up of people’s beliefs, actions, and way of life. The world’s population today is more than six billion. The population density in some places is much higher than in other places. Population den- sity is the average number of people in a square mile or square kilometer. The world’s population has been growing very rapidly since the 1950s (see chart). This increase is not divided equally among countries or parts of countries. Urbanization, or the growth of city populations, is happening throughout the world. Differences in population are often the result of differences in cultures. Social organization is the way members of a cul- ture organize themselves into groups. In all cultures the family is the most impor- tant part of social organization. Groups of people who speak the same language often share the same customs. Religion supports the values that a group of people believe are important. Both internal and external influences affect a culture. Cultural convergence occurs when customs of a society come in contact with those of another culture. Cultural divergence, on the other hand, refers to the restriction of a culture from outside cultural influences.

1- In what kinds of places would you expect to find the greatest population density?
2- Graph Skills: What was the world’s population in 1950?


There are about 200 independent coun- tries in the world. Four ideas define a place as a country: clearly defined territo- ry, population, sovereignty, and govern- ment. Sovereignty is freedom from out- side control. Countries have different government systems. A country with a central gov- ernment that rules the entire nation has a unitary system. A federation refers to a country in which the national gov- ernment shares power with state govern- ments. In a confederation, smaller lev- els of government keep most of the power and give the central government very limited powers. Governments differ in authority. In an authoritarian government, leaders hold all, or nearly all, political power. Today the most common form of author- itarian government is a dictatorship, in which a person or small group holds most power. Dictators usually take power by military force. Throughout history, the most common type of authoritarian government has been a monarchy. Monarchs are heredi- tary rulers, such as kings and queens, who were born into the ruling family. In a democracy, people elect their leaders. Most democracies have represen- tative governments in which adult citi- zens can vote for people to make laws. A country’s economic system deter- mines how goods and services are pro- duced and distributed. In a traditional economy, all goods and services produced are consumed in the family or village, leaving little surplus for trade. A market economy allows indi- viduals or companies to make decisions concerning production and distribution. In a command economy, a central government controls the economic system.

3 - How is the way a monarch gets power different from the leader of a democratic country?
4- Diagram Skills: In which eco- nomic system is the government most involved?