2. Place: Physical and Human Characteristics

Place describes the physical and human characteristics. It asks the question “What is it like there?” and “How is this place different from others?”.

Physical characteristics describe the natural environment of a place. They include:

  • physical features– land forms and bodies of water
  • weather and climate-
    • weather is how hot or cold and how dry or wet a place is
    • climate is the kind of weather a place has over a long period of time.
  • soil- is the top layer of the Earth in which plants can grow. Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter are some of the ingredients found in soil.
  • minerals- natural substances, including gold and coal that are found in rock and in the ground.
  • vegetation– is plant life. Types of vegetation vary from place to place, such as, forest, grassland, tundra, and desert.
  • animal life– includes all large and small animals that live on Earth.
  • elevation-  The height of which a places is elevated in reference to another point, commonly above or below sea level.

Human characteristics: describe the people of a place, past and present.

  • human made features– are modifications people have made to the land. (buildings, bridges, tunnels, railroad tracks, dams, parks, monuments, piers, cultivated land)
  • language- is a way of communicating with words, symbols, signs, or gestures, that are used and understood by a group of people.
  • religion- is a belief in a god or gods and a way people express this belief in their life and worship.
  • political system– is how people develop and change structures of power, authority, and government.
  • economic activities– show how
  • population distribution- is the pattern of the number of people who live in a place. For example, more people live in cities than in rural areas. More people live near bodies of water than in very dry places.

Geographical features: four places in the U.S.A.
Using a T-chart, describe each place in terms of both physical and human characteristics…

36.51 N, 117.08 W  (Death Valley National Park)

40.71 N, 74.01 W  (New York, New York)

24.63 N, 71.33 W  (Dry Tortugas National Park)

42.00 N, 71.33 W  (Plainville Massachusetts)

45.05 N, 82.48 W (The Great Lakes)

25.7459 N, 80.5550 W (Everglades, Florida)
(Nome, Alaska)
(Hapuna Beach, Hawaii)


Geographical features: international

(Borneo, Indonesia)
(New Deli, India)
(Kenya, Africa)
(Galapagos Island, Ecuador)
(Aitutaki, Cook Islands)

(Democratic Republic of the Congo)


A landform is a feature on the Earth’s surface that is part of the terrainMountains,hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms include buttescanyonsvalleys, and basins. Tectonic plate movement under the Earth can create landforms by pushing up mountains and hills.

National Geographic Landforms

Geographic Characteristics PDF