Lesson 5: Human Geography

Getting Started

You already know a great deal about water and land forms and the many different ways that they can be represented on maps. In this lesson, we'll turn out attention to human geography - the study of how human inhabitants interact with their physical environments.

Stuff You Need

  • Geography of the World by DK Publishing
  • The Geography Book: Activities for Exploring, Mapping, and Enjoying Your World by Caroline Arnold
  • Hole punch
  • Paper clips
  • Pen or marker
  • Pencil
  • Tracing paper* (Activity 1 - Option 2)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • How do the physical characteristics of an environment (such as its landforms, water forms, and climate cycles) affect the human population and the development of local cultures?
  • Why do human populations migrate? What role do the physical environment, climate change, and natural resources play in human migration?

Things to Know

  • Human populations can most easily thrive in areas that have a hospitable climate, access to water, land or water routes that will facilitate transportation, and other geographical features that help provide for people's needs.
  • Humans migrate to different parts of the world. Some settle in sparsely populated rural areas while others settle in densely populated urban areas.
  • Humans benefit from some of the geographical features of their environments and face challenges posed by others. Humans also adapt their environments to meet their needs and alter those environments through their actions.


  • Identify and use models and maps as ways of representing landforms. (SS)
  • Analyze how absolute and relative location influence ways of living in the United States and other countries of North America. (SS)
  • Describe the economic and social differences between developed and developing regions in North America. (SS)
  • Explain how and why population distribution differs within and between countries of North America. (SS)
  • Explain how people of the United States and other countries of North America adapt to, modify, and use their physical environment. (SS)
  • Describe factors that influence changes in distribution patterns of population. (SS)
  • Examine factors that influence human migration. (SS)
  • Analyze the past movement of people, goods, and ideas and compare it to movement today. (SS)

Introducing the Lesson

Let your child know that in this lesson, she will learn more about how maps can be used to show human population density, how humans interact with their environments, and how and why people move from place to place.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Geography of the World by DK Publishing
Read "World Population" on pages 16-17 of Geography of the World and then answer the following questions.
  1. How is the world's population changing?
    Your child might mention that the world's population is growing, and that the population growth is expected to increase mostly in Africa, Asia, Central America and South America. Your child may elaborate on this, describing the impact of health care and family planning on population growth.
  2. The map on page 16 shows the density of the world's population. What is the world's most densely populated country? What is the world's least densely populated country?
    The most densely populated country is Monaco and the least densely populated country is Mongolia.
  3. How would you describe the population density of the United States compared with other parts of the world?
    The U.S. population density is shown as between 51-128 people per square mile. The U.S. is shown as being more densely populated than some countries in Africa, South America, northern Europe, far northern Asia and Australia but much less densely populated than most of Europe and Asia. Your child might describe the population density of the U.S. as "in the middle."