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Observing the Global

Wil Franklin's picture



Where Do Humans Congregate?


Overview: Using the two different web-based map resources given below and at least one that you find on your own, answer a series of investigative questions about patterns of human settlement.




  • How do global and US patterns of population density differ?

  • What geologic, environmental or other factors could have influenced the patterns of human settlement in the United States and around the globe?
  • On what data did you base your conclusion?
  • How did the different web sources differ from one another?

  • How useful was each, in helping you answer these questions?



Mary Ellen McGinnity's picture

Google Earth/National Geographic sites

Mary Ellen McGinnity

Having time to explore the Google Earth and National Geographic websites was wonderful. I have to agree that there is so much on the NG site that it's very easy to get distracted - as I did! On the other hand, that's how you sometimes stumble on a great site. Two I liked were the "Interactive Climate Change" feature on the NG site. Click on the world map and see what the effects of global warming. Another site is: Population is tracked from 1 A.D. - 2020.  Amazing!!

Syreeta Bennett's picture

Google Earth and mapMaker

Using Mapmaker, I found that certain regions of the United States is not densely poulated as others. For example, the Midwest was not as dense as the Northeast. In the world China and India had lagre areas of density while Africa had regions that were not dense. If you look at both maps, areas where there is a water source and have a climate that can grow permanent crops have a larger population. So climates that seem to be warm or seasonal attract people.
J Parks's picture

Human Congregation

It's intersting how much various websites change ones perspective of where humans settle. First as a general overview, I observed that the most populated cities in the US were mainly near bodies of water. Then I began to think that patterns depend less on geological factors and more on economic ones. Global population densities didn't seem to change- where there was once alot of people there's still alot of people. However the US population seems to migrate and shift according to the needs of subcultures within the general population.
Benjamin Zerante's picture

Maps Response

I was really fascinated by both these new web resources. Before today I had not used Google Earth or the National Geographic website. I enjoyed the detail found on Google Earth, especially the searches for global interest news stories and pictures. National Geographic also had some interesting search aspects, and I enjoyed experimenting with the different themed maps. I found Google Earth to be a little easier to navigate and provided more 3-D detail. I found that in general humans congregate near resources such as water. If we compare the biome themed map with the population density map, we can see that humans also congregate in areas in which life is most sustainable. For instance, there are very few people living in biomes where weather, soil conditions, or precipitation are not favorable for human beings (ex: deserts, tundra, taiga). Certainly other factors such as history come into play, but in general, humans settle where life can be sustained easily and where resources are able to be attained. As a general population trend, the United States still has many areas that are less densely inhabited than some of the other heavily populated nations of the world.
Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

Google Earth/National Geo

Different web sources change your perspective of what you are trying to see. I used the National Geographic and google earth. I enjoyed google earth more because I could manipulate it and navigate it better. There was a slight frustration level with National Geo versus Google Earth. I found that global and US patterns differ especially in Europe, overcrowding in Europe, less in US especially in midwest. Europe does not waste as much of their resources as the US does.