[internet geography]

[Geo Topics - click a topic below to get background information]


Environmental Problems

Physical Geography

Plate Tectonics
Weather and climat
National Parks

Human Geography


Economic Geography

Employment Structures

Home |  INS |  Activities |  KS3 |  GCSE |  Teachers |  Links |  Search |  Ask A Geographer |  Policy  |  Contact | 
[Geo's top 10 geography web sites]
Check out our top 10 web sites

Geography Dictionary

Many thanks to Daniel Mc Neill for his help on this page.

Enter the word you want to find the meaning of, and click the "find" button.
If you do not find the definition you want click Back to the top and click "find" again.
Or, go directly to the following sections

Information Gathering Techniques
Processing Techniques
Physical Geography
Climatic Regions
The physical environment and its effect on human activities
Competition between land uses in the countryside
Environmental Issues
Characteristics of Settlements
Recent Changes In Towns and Cities
Back to the top
Economic Change
Population Distribution
Population Characteristics
Population Change
International relations
International Trade
International Aid and Self Help
Back to the top
Exam words

Information Gathering Techniques

Gathering techniques are ways of finding out different information. The following is a list of different techniques that you could be asked about in Geography.

Fieldsketching - drawing a sketch of the site of a
settlement, river landforms.

observing and recording - the age and use of buildings,
land use and land use changes, environmental quality,
traffic, cloud cover, cloud type, wind speed and

Extracting information from maps - on height, slope, aspect, farming, forestry, landforms and population indicators; old maps for former industries and land uses.

Back to the top

Extracting information from other sources - for example
T.V., newspapers, Meteorological Office, satellite photographs, radar images, climate graphs, census data.
traffic, building types, land uses, environmental quality

Questionnaires - using one with shoppers to find out
sphere of influences, the effect of change in industry,land use conflicts, views on trade and aid.

Interviewing - shopkeepers for sphere of influences, local people about urban decay, industrial change, land use changes, the weather; views on trade, aid and
European issues.

Processing Techniques

Processing techniques are used to change findings into a different form that is more easily used and understood. The information will be changed into tables, maps, graphs or diagrams. Examples of processing techniques you will be expected to know about in Geography are:

Bar graphs - used to compare amount of several different items.

Back to the top

Divided bar graph - used to show different information.

Population pyramid - a double bar graph used to show the structure of the population.

Scattergraph - used to show if there is a relationship between two sets of figures.

Pie-Graph - used to show how one total is divided up.

Tabulating - making up a table to compare two or more places.

Anotating diagrams - putting labels on maps, graphs and fieldsketches. This gives more detail and helps understanding.

Line graph - shows how one quantity changes over distance or time.

Multiple line graph - shows changes in two or more items over distance or time.

Back to the top

Rose diagram - compares the amount of something in different compass directions e.g. wind direction.

Climate graph - shows temperature and rainfall and helps compare two or more places. It is a combined bar and line graph.

Cross-sections - a side on view of the landscape which shows the shape of the land.

Transects - this is a cross-sections on which features of the human or physical landscape are noted. It is used to show the relationship between relief and land use.

Recording information on maps - namely land use, population distribution, migrations, movement of goods and location maps.

Back to the top

Physical Geography

abrasion - the way rocks in rivers or glaciers scrape and erode the rocks they are moving over
alluvium - material deposited by a river
arete - the ridge between two corries
attrition - the way that rocks in rivers are worn down by rubbing against each other
boulder clay - rocks, sands and gravels deposited by melting ice; also known as till
braiding - the spitting of a river into different channels
corrosion - the way which rivers use the rocks that they carry to batter the land
corrie - a large hollow near the top of a mountain, caused by glacial erosion
crag and tail - a hill with one very steep side and a gentle slope on the other side caused by ice flowing around it
delta - an area of alluvium at the mouth of a river when it has split up into distributaries
deposition - the dropping of rocks and other materials by e.g. glaciers and rivers
distributary - a branch of a river which flows out from the river
drumlin - a smooth, half egg-shaped hill formed beneath an ice sheet
Back to the top
erosion - the wearing away of soil and rocks by e.g. rivers and glaciers
erratic - a rock transported by ice and dropped in a different area
esker - a winding ridge of sand and gravel, deposited by a river under the ice
estuary - the tidal mouth of a river
fiord - a U shaped valley drowned by the sea to become a long, narrow, steep-sided sea inlet
flood plain - a wide valley, usually in the lower course of a river
freeze-thaw action - the weathering process that breaks up rocks by the repeated freezing and thawing of water in cracks
glacier - a mass of ice flowing down a valley
hanging valley - a smaller valley which hangs above the main U shaped valley in a glaciated region
Ice age - the long, cold period when ice and snow covered most of northern Europe
ice sheet - a large body of moving ice, usually in a lowland area
landform - a feature made by natural processes
Back to the top
lateral moraine - material found at the sides of glaciers
lower course - the end part of a river
meander - a large bend in a river
middle course - the middle part of a river
moraine - material deposited by glaciers
mouth - the end point of a river where it reaches the sea or a lake
outwash plain - the plain made up of material washed out of a melting glacier or ice-sheet
ox-bow lake - a former meander of a river
physical landscape - the natural scenery of an area
plucking - the way by which moving ice pulls away rocks onto which it has frozen
pyramidal peak - a pyramid shaped peak made by glacial erosion
river beach - a build up of material deposited in the inside bend of a river
river cliff - the steep bank made by erosion on the outside bend of a river
river terrace - a flat bench lying on each side of a river valley
roche moutonee - a large rock smoothed by ice on its upstream side, jagged on its downstream side
Back to the top
scree - a pile of loose jagged rocks made by freeze-thaw
source - the start of a river
spur - a ridge of rock which juts down into a valley
terminal moraine - moraine deposited at the end of a glacier
transportation - the carrying of rock particles
tributary - a smaller river which flows into a larger one
truncated spur - a spur that has been truncated, or cut off, by
moving ice
upper course of a river - the first part of a river
U-shaped valley - one that has steep sides and a flat bottom
and has been overdeepend by a glacier
V-shaped valley - a valley that has been eroded by a river
weathering - the process by which rocks are worn away but not transported away

Back to the top


air pressure - the force exerted by air on the earth's surface
air stream - a moving current of air
anemometer - an instrument for measuring wind speed
anticyclone - a high pressure system that brings settled weather
barometer - an instrument for measuring air pressure
barograph - an instrument for recording air pressure
Beaufort scale - a scale of wind speed
cold front - the boundary in front of cold air
depression - a low pressure system that brings unsettled weather
humidity - the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere
isobar - a line joining places with equal air pressure
millibar - is a unit of pressure used in recording air pressure; also known as hectopascals
occluded front - where a cold front overtakes a warm front in a depression
okta - an eighth of the sky covered in cloud
precipitation - moisture from the atmosphere in the form of rain, sleet, hail, snow and dew
radiosonde - an instrument carried by a balloon which measures elements of the weather in the upper atmosphere
rain gauge - the instrument for measuring precipitation
Back to the top
Stevenson screen - a white wooden box on legs which holds weather instruments
sunshine recorder - the instrument for measuring sunshine
synoptic chart - a map which shows weather conditions
temperature - how hot or cold it is
warm front - the boundary in front of warm air
warm sector - the wedge of warm air in a depression
weather station - is a site where different elements of the weather are measured and recorded
weather station symbol - is a series of symbols which show
the weather at one particular spot
wind vane - an instrument for measuring wind direction

Back to the top

Climatic Regions

altitude - the height above sea level
climate - the average of the weather conditions, usually measured over 30 years
desert - an area with very low rainfall, usually less than 250 nun a year drought - a long period of dry weather
equatorial climate - a hot and wet climate found in many places near the equator
extreme climate - a climate with a large range of temperature between the hottest and coldest months
hot desert climate - a hot, dry climate which is generally experienced on the western sides of continents around 30 north and south of the equator
Mediterranean climate - a warm climate with dry sununers
rainfall pattern - the distribution of rainfall throughout a year
seasonal rainfall - is rainfall which occurs mostly during one part of a year
temperature range - the difference between the highest and lowest temperatures
Tundra climate - a cold and dry climate found in the north of Canada and Russia

Back to the top

The physical environment and its
effect on human activities

drainage - removing water from the land
Forestry Commission - the organisation that plants and looks after forests in the UK.
irrigation - putting extra water onto farmland
landuse - the way people use the land e.g. farming, forestry,settlement
National Park - a large area of countryside whose outstanding scenery is protected for the public
recreation - an activity undertaken for pleasure
rural - the countryside
terraces - steps cut into the sides of hills to make extra flat land for farming
urban - cities, built up areas
country park - a small area of countryside near a city set aside for recreation

Back to the top

Competition between land uses In the countryside

conflict - disagreement between different land users
conservation - is maintaining or increasing the attractiveness of an area

Back to the top

Environmental Issues

afforestation - the planting of trees
deforestation - the cutting down of trees
global warming - the gradual increase in temperatures world-wide
greenhouse effect - the gradual rise in temperatures due to an increase in carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere
overpopulation - where too many people live in an area for the resources available, resulting in a low standard of living
ozone layer - a belt in the atmosphere which absorbs most of the harmful ultra-violet rays from the sun
pollution - damage to the environment caused by people
shelter belt - a line of trees which reduces wind speed and thereby protects the crops and soil behind it

Characteristics of settlements

accessibility - how easy it is to get to a settlement
central businessdistrict (CBD) - the centre of a city which usually has departmental stores, offices, main bus and railway stations and entertainments
commuter village - a village next to a city; many people travel, or commute, from the village to work in the city
conurbation - a very large built up area formed when towns and cities join together
dispersed - a scattered pattern of settlements
function - the main purpose of a settlement, e.g. port, market
town or route centre
high order services - services that are rarely used by most people and are only found in the larger towns and cities e.g. major football stadium, international airport.
land use zones - are the areas of housing, industry and commerce (shops, offices etc.)in a town.
industrial estate - an area of modem factories
Infrastructure - the framework of roads, railways, power supplies
land use zones - areas in a town with the same kind of land use
linear settlement - settlement with a long, narrow shape
low order services - those used frequently by most people, found in villages as well as towns e.g. post office, general shop
market town - a town surrounded by farmland which provides services for farmers
nucleated - a settlement with the buildings clustered together
residential area - housing area
site - the land on which a settlement is built
situation - the position of a settlement in relation to other settlements
sphere of Influence - the area around a settlement within which people use that settlement for their services
urban areas - towns and cities
urban model - a diagram showing a simplified pattern of land use in a town or city

Back to the top

Recent Changes In Towns and Cities

commuter - someone who travels to work
congestion - too much traffic on roads
derelict land - disused land
dormitory settlement - a settlement near a larger town in which most people have jobs in the larger town
green belt - an area of protected countryside around towns and
Inner city - the old, central area of a town or city, often areas of redevelopment
new town - a planned town, such as Milton Keynes, which offers new housing and jobs
overspill - population forced to move out of an area because of a
urban renewal scheme
park and ride - a scheme where car parks are set up at the edge of a town and people travel to work by car or train
renovation - the modernisation of buildings
suburbs - the outskirts of a town
urban decay - the poor condition of part of a town
urban fringe - where the town meets the countryside
urban regeneration - improvements to housing, jobs, leisure and the environment in a town
urban renewal - a scheme to improve the condition of a town
urban sprawl - the spreading of towns into the countryside

Back to the top


agribusiness - the organisation of a farm as a business
arable farm - one that grows crops
cash crop - a crop that is grown for sale cereal crop - grain crop eg wheat
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - the European Union's farming policy that looks after the farmers in Europe
crofting - part time farming found in the north of Scotland
crop rotation - the swapping around of crops to help look after the soil
diversification - branching out into a different way of earning money
extensive farm - one that has few inputs for its area -eg hill sheep farming
factory farming - the very intensive rearing of animals, often indoors eg chickens
fodder crops - crops that are grown for animals to eat
horticulture - is growing flowers, fruit and vegetables
inputs - these are needed in order to farm eg land, workers, equipment
Intensive farm - one that has high inputs for its area eg a market garden
market gardening - a small farm in which the produce is sent directly to market eg flowers, vegetables
mixed farm - one that grows crops and keeps animals
organic farming - one that does not use artificial chemicals
outputs - what the farmer produces eg wheat, potatoes, milk
pastoral land - land that is left as grass for the animal to eat
permanent pasture - land that is always used as pasture
rough grazing - poor quality grazing land

Back to the top

Key Idea 10 Industry

assisted area - an area that receives government help to attract
capital intensive - an industry that spends a lot of money on equipment and machinery, and employs few workers
enterprise zone - a small area that receives special government help to attract industry eg Clydebank
extractive industry - quarrying and mining
footloose Industry - one that is not tied to a particular location
greenfield site - land that has not previously been built on
heavy Industry - making large, heavy goods using raw materials such as coal and iron eg shipbuilding
high tech Industry - one that uses advanced equipment to make goods e.g computer chips
industrial estate - a planned industrial area, often with ready made factory units
industrial Inertia - when an industry stays in an area after the reasons for it being there have gone
labour intensive - an industry that requires a lot of workers
light industry - making small goods with small amounts of raw materials eg jewellery
primary industry - one which collects resources provided by nature eg farming, forestry, fishing and mining (Take)
quaternary industry - one which provides information and advice eg research laboratory
raw materials - items used to make another product
secondary Industry - a manufacturing industry (make)
service industry - provides a service to people or other industries eg transport, retail. Also known as tertiary industry (serve)
sunrise industry - a new, growing industry eg electronics
sunset industry - an old, declining industry eg shipbuilding

Back to the top

Economic Change

economic effects - the financial effects on jobs and income (money)
environmentaleffects - the effects on the landscape and the environment
multipliereffect - the 'knock-on' effect of an industry opening or closing on other industries or services
restoredland - derelict land that has been made useful again eg by landscaping or renovating buildings
social effects - the effects on the quality of life of the people eg....
standard ofliving, services, community spirit

Population Distribution

economic factors - factors connected with jobs and money
empty lands - areas with low population density
environmental factors - factors connected to the natural environment eg climate, relief, soil
political factors - factors to do with the government and the European Union
population density - the number of people per square kilometre of land
population distribution - the way in which a population is spread throughout a country or region
population pyramid - a bar graph which shows the age and sex composition of a population

Back to the top

Population Characteristics

birth rate - the number of births per 1000 people
census - a count of the number of people living in a country
death rate - the number of deaths per 1000 people
developed countries - ones with high living standards. Also known as the 'North'
developing countries - ones with low living standards. Also known as the 'South'
gross domestic product (GDP) - the value of all the goods and services produced by a country in a year
gross national product (GNP) - the GDP plus the value of services earned abroad
indicators of development - statistics that help indicate a countries standard of living
infant mortality - the number of infant deaths to every 1000 live births
life expectancy - the average age to which people are expected to live in a country
literacy rate - the percentage of people in a country who can read and write
standard of living - how well off the people in a country are third world - another name for the countries of the developing world
vital registrations - events such as births, deaths, marriages and divorces

Back to the top

Population Change

active population - the number of people in a country of working age, usually 15'to 60 years
dependent population - the number of people in a country who are not working, i.e. children and elderly
guest workers - people allowed to live and work in a country for a short period of time
migration - the movement of people from one area to an other
natural Increase - the number of extra people in a country each year caused by the extra number of births than deaths
overpopulation - too many people living in an area for the available resources, resulting in a low standard of living
pull factor - a reason that attracts people to live in an other area e.g. higher standard of living
push factor - a reason why people move away from an area eg poor housing
refugees - people forced to move from their home area due to eg war
shanty town - an area in a town or city where people have built their own poor quality houses; often lacking in services eg electricity, sewers

Back to the top

International Relations

European Union - a trade and social alliance of European countries
quota - a limit on the number of goods a country is allowed to export to another country
selling alliance - a group of countries that agree a price at which they will sell a particular product eg oil
social alliance - a group of countries which cooperate with each other in a number of ways eg sport, defence, aid, inunigration - a tax on goods imported into one country from another trade alliance - a group of countries between which free trade can take place

Back to the top

International Trade

consumer - a person, country or industry that uses a product
exports - goods sold to another country
imports - goods bought from another country
multinational company - a very large company that has operations in many countries eg IBM, General Motors
overproduction - more of something is produces than can be sold, causing the price to fall
trade balance - the difference between the value of a countries exports and imports
trade barrier - something that makes it more difficult to export goods eg tariffs and quotas
trade deficit - the amount by which the value of the,imports exceeds the value of the exports
trade surplus - the amount by which the value of the exports exceeds the value of the imports

Back to the top

International Aid and Self Help

aid - help
appropriate technology - using equipment that is best suited to the skills and finances of a country
barefoot doctor - a local person trained to treat the conunon local diseases and offer health advice
bilateral aid - aid from one country to another
high technology - advanced equipment, usually costing a lot of money.
intermediate technology - middle level technology, often the right level to be used in the development of a country
long-term aid - aid that usually takes years before it is of benefit to a country eg improved education or a tree planting scheme
lowtechnology - primitive techniques and equipments
multilateral aid - aid from a group of countries to an agency that then distributes it to other countries
project aid - aid used for a large project eg a hospital or a hydro electric dam
self help scheme - a scheme, usually small scale, which uses the skills of the local people to improve the local conditions
short term aid - emergency aid, needed after natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes
tied aid - aid with conditions attached eg the money must be spent on goods from the country giving the aid United Nations - a world-wide organisation set up to improve the conditions in every country
voluntary aid - aid collected by charities such as Oxfam or Action Aid and then distributed to those that need the help

Back to the top

Exam words

compare - outline the similarities or differences
conflict - an argument or difference of opinion
describe - oudine the main features or characteristics
distribution - the spread throughout a country or region
economic - to do with money and wages
explain - give reasons
gathering technique - a way of collecting information
hierarchy - a list in order of size or importance
identify - point out and name
illustrate - give an example of
justify - give a good reason for
land use - the way the land is used
location - where something is
model - a simplified version of some feature, e.g. a city, in the real world
outline - describe the main features or characteristics
processing technique - reorganising information so it is more
easily understood
questionnaire - a list of questions which have been devised to obtain information, opinions and/or ideas.
rank - put in order of size
relationships - links
sampling - taking a representative selection of measurements
state - name or give
suggest - put forward ideas or give an opinion
technique - a way of collecting or processing information

Back to the top

Can you think of any more key words to include? Email: webmaster@internetgeograpy.co.uk


Search for:
This Site
The Web

Get a free search
engine for your site

Site map
A complete listing of the pages on GeoNet

Outline maps
A clickable world map linking to outline maps

Guest book
Sign the Geo Net guest book. Tell us what you think of the site and what you'd like to see included

Home |  Key Stage 3 |  GCSE |  Teachers |  Links
Search |  Ask A Geographer |  Policy  |  Contact