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Interpret a population pyramid and determine if the population is increasing or declining and if the pace of growth is intensifying or slowing.
Distinguish between the concepts of culture and ethnicity as these terms are used in this textbook.
Understand the difficulty in determining the number of languages and religions existing on Earth.
For most of human history, relatively few people lived on Earth, and world population grew slowly. In 2010, the world’s population was growing by about eighty million per year, a growth rate found almost exclusively in developing countries, as populations are stable or in decline in places such as Europe and North America.
The three largest population clusters in the world are the regions of eastern China, south Asia, and Europe.
Social dynamics and geography will determine where the new additions to the human family will live.
Human population will continue to grow until it either crashes due to the depletion of resources or stabilizes at a sustainable carrying capacity. The three main human population clusters on the planet are eastern Asia, southern Asia, and Europe. As countries move from an agricultural to an industrial economy, there is a major shift in population from rural to urban settings.
A basic principle of population growth that addresses this rural-to-urban shift states that as countries industrialize and urbanize, family size typically decreases and incomes traditionally increase. The shape of a country’s population pyramid tells a story about the history of its population growth.
These shapes also illustrate the percentage of a population under the age of fifteen or over the age of sixty-five, which are standard indicators of population growth. The terms culture and ethnicity might also be confused in the issue of ethnic cleansingThe forced removal of one people (usually an ethnic group) from an area by another by military force or war., which refers to the forced removal of a people from their homeland by a stronger force of a different people.
Language is the communication mode of human culture, and it represents the complete diversity of thought, literature, and the arts. Of the more than 6,000 languages, about a dozen are spoken by more than one hundred million people each. These thirteen languages are spoken by more than four billion people, or about 60 percent of the current world population in 2009.
Note: There are more than nine language families, but these are the dominant ones with over one hundred million speakers each. Religious geography is the study of the distribution of religions and their relationship to their place of origin. Although the world’s primary religions are listed here, many other religions are practiced around the world, as well as many variations of the religions outlined here.
Christianity and Islam originated out of Judaism in the eastern Mediterranean and the Arabian Peninsula. Hinduism, a religious tradition that originated on the Indian subcontinent, is one of the oldest major religions still practiced in the world, and it may date back to as far as 2000 BCE or earlier.
Sikhism, a religion founded in the Punjab region of southern Asia, is a monotheistic religion centered on justice and faith.
Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people, whose traditions and ethics are embodied in the Jewish religious texts, the Tanakh, and the Talmud.
Shintoism is a major ethnic religion of Japan focused on the worship of kami, which are spirits of places, things, and processes. Confucianism and Taoism are ethnic Chinese religions based on morality and the teachings of religious scholars such as Confucius. The human population was approaching seven billion in 2011 and is increasing rapidly, mainly in developing regions of Asia and Africa. Though often interchangeable in general terms, for the purpose of geography in this textbook, ethnicity is what you are born with and culture is what you learn after you are born. There are about six thousand languages in the world today, with about thirteen of them spoken by over one hundred million people or more.
In der US-Hauptstadt Washington eröffnet am Wochenende ein Museum, das sich komplett der deutschen Kultur widmet. Understand the concept of carrying capacity as it relates to the planet’s human population.
Show how rural-to-urban shift relates to industrialization and the change in rural populations.
Only about five hundred million people lived on the entire planet in 1650 (that’s less than half India’s population in 2000).
One hundred years later, there were roughly six billion people in the world, and as of 2011, the number was approaching seven billion. World population increase is pronounced on the continent of Asia: China and India are the most populous countries in the world, each with more than a billion people, and Pakistan is an emerging population giant with a high rate of population growth. If the current growth rate continues, the human population will double in about fifty years to more than twelve billion. Providing food, energy, and materials for these additional humans will tax many countries of the world, and poverty, malnutrition, and disease are expected to increase in regions with poor sanitation, limited clean water, and lack of economic resources.
Population growth exacts a toll on the earth as more people use more environmental resources. The Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century ushered in major technological developments and changes in labor practices, which encouraged migration from the farm to the city. Though this may not be true in all cases, it is a general principle that is consistent across cultural lines.
A population pyramid is essentially two bar graphs that depict male and female age cohorts either in absolute size or as a percentage of the total population. For example, a high-growth-rate country has a pyramid that is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom, showing that every year more children have been born than the year before. Ethnic cleansing might truly indicate two distinct ethnic groups: one driving the other out of their homeland and taking it over. An accent is the pronunciation of words within a language that is different from that used by a different group of the same language.


Similar to pidgin, a creole language arises from contact between two other languages and has features of both. A dialect is a regional variety of a language that uses different grammar or pronunciation. A lingua franca is a second language used for commercial purposes with others outside a language group but not used in personal lives. The official language is the language that is on record by a country to be used for all its official government purposes. A pidgin is a simplified, created language used to communicate between two or more groups that do not have a language in common.
Slang is the local use of informal words or phrases that are not part of the official language. Religious geographers recognize three main types of religions: universal (or universalizing), ethnic (or cultural), and tribal (or traditional) religions. Both are monotheistic religions that look to the Jewish patriarch Abraham as a founding personage.
There are three main branches of Buddhism: southern or Theravada Buddhism, eastern or Mahayana Buddhism, and northern or Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism. Unlike other world religions, Hinduism has no single founder and is a conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions. According to Jewish tradition, Judaism began with the covenant between God and Abraham around 2000 BCE. No one can agree on the earth’s carrying capacity for our human population, but unless the growth rate changes, the human population will double in about fifty years.
Workers were needed in the factories and fewer workers were needed on the farms because of improved technology. Of the main language families, nine include at least 1 percent or more of the human population.
Religious geographers recognize three main types of religions: universal, ethnic, and traditional. It is a branch of human geography related to population geographyThe examination of the spatial distribution of human populations., which is the examination of the spatial distribution of human populations. Things changed dramatically during Europe’s Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s and into the 1800s, when declining death rates due to improved nutrition and sanitation allowed more people to survive to adulthood and reproduce.
This rapid growth occurred as the demographic transition spread from developed countries to the rest of the world.
The continent of Africa has the highest fertility rates in the world, with countries such as Nigeria—Africa’s most populous and the world’s eighth most populous country—growing rapidly each year. In 2010, more than two billion people (one-third of the planet’s population) lived in abject poverty and earned less than the equivalent of two US dollars per day. The areas most immediately affected by increased populations include forests (a fuel resource and a source of building material), fresh water supplies, and agricultural soils. Because of increased mechanization, fewer farm workers are needed to produce larger agricultural yields. Agricultural regions generally have a larger average family size than that of their city counterparts. Male cohorts are typically shown on the left side of the pyramid, and females are on the right side. As family size decreases and women in a society have fewer children, the shape of the pyramid changes.
Their population pyramidsGraphic illustration of age cohorts by sex for a given population. In this textbook, ethnicity indicates traits people are born with, including genetic backgrounds, physical features, or birthplaces.
On the other hand, ethnic cleansing might also be technically cultural cleansing if both the aggressor and the group driven out are of the same ethnic stock but hold different cultural values, such as religion or language.
While Ethnologue, a publication pertaining to the world’s languages, estimates that there were 6,909 living languages in the world as of 2009, the exact number may never be determined. However, the vast majority of the world’s languages are spoken by a relatively small number of people.
An example of a language family is the Indo-European family, which has a number of branches of language groups that come from the same base: a language called Proto-Indo-European that was probably spoken about six thousand years ago. For example, people in Mississippi pronounce words differently from people in North Dakota, but the differences are less severe than dialects. For example, Latin is no longer used by local people to communicate but is still used by the Roman Catholic Church in some of its services. For example, Basque is not connected to any other language and is only spoken in the region of the Pyrenees between Spain and France.
For example, Swahili is used by millions in Africa for doing business with people outside their own group but is not used to communicate within local communities.
For example, in India the official language is Hindi, though in many places the lingua franca is English and several local languages may be spoken. For example, Residents of New Guinea mix English words with their own language to create a new language that can bridge speakers of different local language groups.
Because the official doctrine of Communism was nonreligious or atheist, there are actually many more followers of Buddhism in China than demographic listings indicate. Christianity, based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who lived in Palestine in the first century CE, spread rapidly through the Roman Empire. Hinduism has a large body of scripture, including the Vedas, the Upanishads, and epic tales such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Geographers study how populations grow and migrate, how people are distributed around the world, and how these distributions change over time. During the twentieth century, death rates due to disease and malnutrition decreased in nearly every corner of the globe. The most striking paradox within population studies is that while there has been marked decline in fertility (a declining family size) in developing countries, the world’s population will grow substantially by 2030 because of the compounding effect of the large number of people already in the world—that is, even though population growth rates are in decline in many countries, the population is still growing. An example is the urbanized region between Boston and Washington, DC, which includes New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and neighboring metropolitan areas, resulting in a region often called a megalopolis.


Fertility rateThe number of children born to a woman in her lifetime whether they reach adulthood or not. A population pyramid for a postindustrialized country that has negative growth would be narrower at the bottom than in the middle, indicating that there are fewer children than middle-aged people. Other data sets count languages differently, but most agree that there are more than 6,000. In fact, many languages have no written form and are spoken by declining numbers of people.
As populations migrated away from the ancestral homeland, their language evolved and separated into many new languages. Creole languages are often developed in colonial settings as a dialect of the colonial language (usually French or English). Linguists suggest that there are three main dialects of the English language in the United States: a Southern dialect, a midland dialect, and a Northern dialect. Though the words are in English, the grammar and sentence structure is mixed up according to local vocabulary.
These religions attempt to gain worldwide acceptance and appeal to all types of people, and they actively look for new members, or converts.
The percentage of the world’s population that follows Buddhism is probably much higher than the 6 percent often listed for this religion. Islam is based on the teachings of Muhammad, a seventh-century religious and political figure who lived on the Arabian Peninsula. Population pyramids are one method of illustrating demographic data for a country to show if the population is declining or increasing and at what rate. However, by the middle of the twentieth century, birth rates in developed countries declined, as children had become an economic liability rather than an economic asset to families.
A small growth rate on a large base population still results in the birth of many millions of people. Between 2010 and 2050, world population growth will be generated exclusively in developing countries. The coastal country of Nigeria in West Africa or the island of Java in Indonesia are good examples of large population clusters centered in the tropics.
Type C climates, which are moderate and temperate, are usually the most productive and are already vulnerable to serious deforestation, water pollution, and soil erosion.
This shift continued into the information age of the late twentieth century and continues in many parts of the developing world in the current century. The term culture indicates what people learn after they are born, including language, religion, and customs or traditions.
There are even communities in various parts of the world where people can communicate by whistling messages to each other or by using clicking sounds. Language experts estimate that up to half the world’s living languages could be lost by the end of the twenty-first century as a result of globalization. The three largest language groups of the Indo-European family used in Europe are the Germanic, Romance, and Slavic groups. For example, in the former French colony of Haiti, a French-based creole language was developed that is spoken by people at home, while French is typically used for professional purposes. Television and public media communication has brought a focus on more uniform speech patterns that have diminished the differences between these three dialects.
Islam spread rapidly across North Africa, east across southern Asia, and north to Europe in the centuries after Muhammad’s death.
Fewer families worked in agriculture, more families lived in urban areas, and women delayed the age of marriage to pursue education, resulting in a decline in family size and a slowing of population growth.
There is the possibility that we have already reached the threshold of its carrying capacity.
Maintaining adequate food supplies will be critical to supporting a sustainable carrying capacity. If a fertility rate for a given country is less than 2.1—the replacement level—the population of that country is in decline, unless there is significant immigration. New languages form when populations live in isolation, and in the current era, as the world’s populations are increasingly interacting with each other, languages are being abandoned and their speakers are switching to more useful tongues. Other Indo-European languages include Hindi (spoken in India) and Persian (spoken in Iran). Meanwhile, birth rates—and family size—have also been declining in most developing countries as people leave agricultural professions and move to urban areas. The ability to transport food supplies quickly and safely is a major component of the ability to manage the conservation of resources.
Broader ethnic religions include Judaism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and Chinese religions that embrace Confucianism and Taoism.
This means that population growth rates—while still higher in the developing world than in the developed world—are declining.
Deforestation by humans using wood for cooking fuel is already a serious concern in the arid and dry type B climates.
Some children will never reach reproductive age nor have children of their own, so the replacement rate has to be slightly greater than 2.
Finally, traditional religions involve the belief in some form of supernatural power that people can appeal to for help, including ancestor worship and the belief in spirits that live in various aspects of nature, such as trees, mountaintops, and streams (this is often called animism). Although the exact figures are unknown, demographers expect the world’s population to stabilize by 2100 and then decline somewhat. The concept of fertility rate is slightly different from the term family sizeThe number of children raised in a household., which indicates the number of living children raised by a parent or parents in the same household. In this textbook, family size is used to illustrate the concept of population growth and decline.



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