Geography News: Part Two

Southern regions nurtured languages

by Tim de Chant. Per Square Mile, January 10, 2012
Southern regions nurtured languages
(which references this article: A latitudinal gradient in the density of human languages in North America [PDF])

This blog post investigates how the density of pre-contact Native American languages increases as the latitude decreases, mirroring the number of animal species in those same areas. The sheer variety of languages increases exponentially from about 40° North until at least 8° North (the southern limit of this analysis). One possible explanation to this phenomenon is the corresponding increase of varied habitats. The reasoning behind this is that as habitats become more varied, resources also increase, giving way to smaller groups of animals and humans who can survive in isolation. The author concludes by relating this to the fact that so many languages are dying out as we push for globalization. He makes the connection that as our population increases, our resources decrease, thereby creating the same type of environment that forces us to work together in order to survive. Communication is one of our best tools to encourage cooperation.

This article relates to the chapter: Language. I found this article to be fascinating, especially the fact that the pattern of increase matches the density of animal species. Although, I wish that a similar study could be made of the languages of the rest of the world in relation to habitat as well as latitude. The Americas (at least in the southern areas!) have a tremendous number of dialects and languages even though both continents together only contain three language families. I believe that this stems from the way in which the Americas were originally settled. This article also proposed a reason behind the disappearance of our unique languages as we move towards globalization. Rather than expecting all of us to continue speaking only our culture’s “hearth tongue”, we should encourage a universal language as well as a way to keep our individuality intact. The Native American sign languages are a great example of this. Whole groups of tribes could communicate with these signs while keeping their own unique languages for speaking. It is much harder to understand a foreign accent than it is to understand a foreign hand signal.

Synopsis of Religion in the Early Republican Primaries

by Pew Research Center. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, March 2, 2012
Synopsis of Religion in the Early Republican Primaries

Every election year, religion plays a large part in people’s decisions at the polls. This year, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is aiming for the republican delegation once again. Romney has received significantly less support from white, evangelical Christians than other voters in every state which has such information available. On average, Romney has received about 15 percentage points more support from non-evangelical voters than from the evangelical. Romney has also attracted the Catholic vote, whereas Santorum (who is Catholic) has yet to win the majority of the Catholic vote in any state. In the Mormon dominated states that have so far held their primaries, Romney is the clear winner among Protestants, with the percentage of Mormons (which are grouped as Protestants in the exit polls) voting for Romney being as high as 96%. In Nevada and New Hampshire, there were enough religiously unaffiliated voters to analyze, and they favored Ron Paul.

This article relates to the chapter: Religion. The United States is home to a large assortment of religions. According to our textbook, almost 80% of us are Christian. This year’s republican primaries include Romney, a Mormon; Santorum, a Catholic; Gingrich, also a Catholic; and Paul, a Baptist. Of these candidates, Romney is the most interesting to look at religiously. In the United States, Mormons have a rocky history of discrimination and persecution from the Evangelical Christian community. When the Republican party was created, it was expressly anti-Mormon. Today, a majority of Mormons identify as Republican, but they are still not entirely accepted by the rest of the party. This article is a perfect example of the localization of attitudes towards various religious affiliations, as well as the religious distributions in the United States. The southern states, which hold a high percentage of Evangelicals, did not, as a whole, vote for Romney, where those who live near the Mormon regions surrounding Utah (which they settled in the mid 1800s) were much more likely to vote for Romney.

Bid to censure Lanka at UN puts India in a fix

by TNN. The Times of India, March 14, 2012
Bid to censure Lanka at UN puts India in a fix

The UN’s Human Rights Council made a motion to censure Sri Lanka over their actions against the terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during the last few weeks of the conflict between LTTE and the Sri Lanken government. In India, the Dravidian political party (DMK) has been pushing for censure, while the more neutral leaders (including the Prime Minister) see such a move as merely aggravating an old wound without accomplishing anything. India has a policy to never vote on country specific resolutions, but in this case, the ethnic ties between the two countries make this almost impossible.

The article concluded with India’s claim that this issue would be better dealt with by the Sri Lanken government, and other neutral parties working towards redress rather than a harsh UN censure.

This article relates to the chapter: Ethnicity. The ethnic ties that bind the Tamil of Sri Lanka to the Dravidian Hindus of India together is part of the reason that the civil war was as drawn out as it was (since India contributed arms). It makes complete sense that they would also want some sort of admission of wrong-doing, some punishment and retribution in return. The Tamil might not be powerful enough to gain this by themselves, but it seems that their Indian cousins are more than happy to step up to the plate for them. It shows that despite country lines (no matter how old), family is family and we feel a tie to those who are like us.

I chose this article because it caught my eye since I had chosen this as my religious conflict in the discussion the previous week.

Bahrain and Belarus named ‘enemies of the internet’

by BBC Journalist. BBC News, March 13, 2012
Bahrain and Belarus named 'enemies of the internet'

‘Reporters Without Borders’ (RWB) is a non profit organization devoted to protecting and informing international journalists. In this article, it was announced that Bahrain and Belarus have both been added to RWB’s list of ‘Enemies of the Internet,’ which includes countries that “restrict net access, filter content, and imprison bloggers.” The article covers some of the tactics used by these countries to restrict the freedom of information through the Internet, especially concerning political dissent. Mention is also made of the countries who are bordering on overstepping the bounds that freedom of information require. This includes countries like Australia (for creating a blacklist that blocks any site that the Australian government does not approve of), France, Egypt and India.

This article relates to the chapter: Political Geography. One of the major distinctions between countries is the government that controls the area within the borders. When dealing with an international concept such as the Internet, each government chooses to control it (or not) in a different way. The most oft cited reason for restricting internet access is to also restrict communication. The Egyptian riots of this winter are an example of what dissenters can do to build up a revolution using the Internet. I can see how this would be frightening, especially in countries that do not have good relations with all (or many) of their citizens.

I chose this article because I am, or used to be, in the tech field, and so I am always interested in how the different parts of the world are coping with this new technology. I also chose this article because it deals with a form of communication that cuts through the borders. The network connections don’t care which side of a line you are standing on, and neither does the free sharing of information. I hope that we have all gotten a good taste of this freedom, and will fight to keep it for future generations.

See and Hear Last Speakers of Dying Languages

by Ker Than and Chris Rainier. National Geographic, February 17, 2012
See and Hear Last Speakers of Dying Languages

A new project has been announced that will attempt to capture the Earth’s disappearing and endangered languages in digital format. So far, they have begun to document eight languages (from places such as Mongolia, India, and Paraguay) and have collected 32,000 word entries as well as 24,000 audio recordings. They are working on adding more words as well as more languages to their “talking dictionary.” Although other projects exist, this is geared towards recording the languages of people who do not have the technology to record their language themselves. The purpose of recording these languages is not to provide a way for students to learn the language, but as a supplement to more formal instruction (including grammar).

In Matukar, Papua New Guinea, a small fishing village, there are about 600 speakers of the language, Matukar Panau left. The villagers requested that their language be placed online, even though none of them had ever used the Internet, and the village did not even have access to electricity.

Another language that is being preserved is the Remo language of India, which is of particular interest because of its ancient, pre-Hindu roots. There are few ways to look back into the past, and language is one of the most powerful. As one of the researchers said, “humans lose a unique lens upon the world every time a language dies.” This dictionary project might not be enough on its own to revive a language, but it is one small way that we can preserve these windows into our past and our humanity.
This article relates to the chapter: Language. Languages die and are born with the people who speak them. If no one is left to speak a language, there are few ways to completely retrieve that language for use again. Even in the case of Hebrew, there are many questions and value judgments that had to be made, and there is no guarantee that speakers of modern Hebrew are speaking something even close to the original language. That process was also helped along by the existence of Yiddish, from which some of the vocabulary and grammar rules could be extrapolated. In the case of Matukar Panau, or any of the other languages mentioned in this article. they did not have a large enough sphere of influence to leave but the trace of a memory behind when the last native speaker passes on. Should we feel that by creating an audio recording of a language that we are ‘saving’ it? If we are truly concerned with the preservation of culture and language, is this the best we can do?

I picked this article because of the pretty pictures and the included audio files of the spoken languages. I mean, honestly, who can resist a little multi-media?

Map Exercise: Water Bodies


Southern Ocean

This was one of the last oceans to be explored, and to this day is one of the least used, especially for trade, as it is not very useful unless you are trying to get to Antarctica. This ocean completely surrounds the continent of Antarctica, and falls entirely inside of the ice-flow iceberg range of the southern antarctic circle (in other words, it is freaking cold!)

North Atlantic Ocean

This ocean was not regularly crossed until after the explorations of Christopher Columbus, after which passage became more and more frequent between North America and Europe (less so between Africa / South America & North America and Europe. It is also used to travel between Europe and the Panama canal which provides access to the Pacific Ocean and East Asia. (At least until the Suez canal was built!)

Indian Ocean

The Indian ocean lies between the eastern edge of Africa and the western edge of Australia and the islands of Indonesia. India acts as a "bridge" between these two continents, and was (is) used as a restocking and refueling area on the way to and from southern Asia. This ocean provides the moisture for parts of India (especially the monsoon season), as well as the eastern coast of Africa. Because it is somewhat hedged in by landmass, less inter-oceanic circulation transpires (especially in the northern regions).


Bering Sea

This sea lies between the northern extremities of western North America and eastern Asia. The northern edge of this sea is defined by the point where these two landmasses are the closest (the Bering Strait). The southern border is defined by the Aleutian Islands which curve south-westward and almost reach the shores of Russia. This sea was frequented by natives to the region who traversed it in seal-skin kayaks.

Black Sea

The Black Sea is located in eastern Europe, and is connected to the Mediterranean Sea through a very narrow channel (the mighty Bosporus) through the city of Istanbul. This sea connects Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, allowing them to trade goods and ideas. This is the region that mythologists believe that Jason and the Argonauts arrived at in their search for the Golden Fleece.

Tasman Sea

This sea lies between the eastern edge of Australia and the islands of New Zealand. This sea and New Zealand are sometimes used as a stopping off point to shorten the long distance between Australia and North America by ship.

Java Sea

This sea lies between the island of Malay and the island of Java, just south of the equator. This is a very shallow sea, with currents coming in from the east and flowing west and then north.

Scotia Sea

The Scotia Sea is defined as a shallower area off the southern tip of South America. Unless a ship is traversing Magellan's Strait, they must pass through this sea in order to access Drake's Passage. The South Georgia and Sandwich Islands lie on the eastern edge, and the Antarctic Peninsula lies at the southern edge.


Gulfo de Panama

This is a large indention to the south of Panama. Ships sail through here on there way to and from the Panama Canal.

Gulf of Bothnia

This is a large section of water between Sweden and Finland. Although there are a few similarities between these countries, this area of water seems to have kept the two cultures fairly separate. Finland's language is significantly different from that of the other Scandinavian countries and the people there have a unique religion, more closely aligned with the Slavic people to the near south.

Gulf of Tonkin

The Red River of China and Vietnam flows into this gulf. This area is densely inhabited, on the coast near Ha Noi, it is as densely populated as Hong Kong or regions of Northern China. I imagine that this gulf was very important, strategically, for the Vietnamese in the time of Navel warfare.


Lake Baikal

This lake is located in the heart of the Russian Taiga Forest. This lake is at the heart of many local tribal traditions (as would be expected with such a huge lake). I watched a documentary about shamanism in the area, and there are even certain words that are not allowed to be spoken while on the lake, otherwise it will invoke spirits who will then cause you and your family troubles.

Lake Victoria

This lake lies in east-central Africa, and is split between Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The areas surrounding the lake are diverse - grasslands, forests, woods, hills ... but they all have one thing in common: the lake's life-giving water.

Lake Titicaca

This is a high lake in the Andes. The lake is split into two sections by the border of southern Peru and western Bolivia. This lake was an important gathering point for the tribes of this section of the Andes. The reeds that grow on the lake shore are used to make rafts and homes.


Baffin Bay

This is a huge stretch of ocean between western Greenland and Baffin Island of Canada. I have a feeling that almost no one uses this bay, as it is filled with ice pack in the winter and icebergs in the summer. ... and no one lives anywhere near there.

Shark Bay

Located on the far western edge of Australia, this bay is home to a number of port towns. The area surrounding the bay is quite dry, and so these are people that would otherwise not have chosen to settle there.

Porpoise Bay

This bay is located on the ... northern? coast of Antarctica, directly south of Australia (130 degrees east of Greenwich). This bay is part of the Australian slice of the continent, and is covered by an ice shelf. I wonder how it got its name? Do porpoises live that far south?

Of all the water bodies you mentioned in this assignment, which one do you find most interesting and why?

Thinking about why the inhabitants of Sweden and Norway declined to attack and conquer the people of the Baltic Sea and the gulf of Bothnia. I have a lot of theories, but no concrete evidence. It makes me want to do research, which is a good thing ... so that's why it's the most interesting, I see unanswered questions there.

Discussion: Political Boundaries

When referring to European nations occupying areas around the world, why do you think the word colonialism is used instead of invasion? Explain and elaborate. Think back to the video The Scramble for Africa that you viewed last week.

I think that we use the word colonize rather than invade because we are on the side of the colonizers - we and our cultural allies (Europe) are the ones going out and "colonizing". If we were a member of a country that had been taken over by a larger country, we would think of it differently, I'm sure. Another aspect is that the colonies are usually far from the mother country, where invading usually happens to a neighboring country and becomes equally a part of the mother country.

As geographers, it's important that you know the locations of places in current events. Even more important, knowing the significance of the location will help you understand more fully the context of the current event. As part of this discussion, I want you to open your atlas and your text and study vigorously the SW and Southern Asian area-- stretching from Iraq over to India. (There are great figures in your text of this area.) Study the topography and cultural mix by researching. What do you notice about the topography of this area? Are the mountains in Afghanistan similar to the Coast Ranges and Cascade Mts we have here in Oregon? Explain the difference.

The land in Iran and Afghanistan are dominated by high mountainous regions. The climate in these areas as well as Pakistan and north-western India is very dry. The vegetation is scrub and sparse grass. I know that I tend to think of all India being a great Jungle because of reading The Jungle Book, but this is simply not true. The jungles of India are only a small percentage of the land cover.

There are very few similarities between the highlands of Southwest Asia and the mountains of Oregon. Oregon's climate is much wetter, due to the moisture brought in from the Pacific Ocean. Southwest Asia is dependent on the monsoons - which do not cover all of India, but only a portion. The soil of Southwest Asia is much newer, and the mountains there are a southwestern extension of the Himalayas. By contrast, the Cascades ARE the main mountain range in the area. There is a high, and dry plains area between the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains to the west, but it comes no where near the aridity and heat that is present in southwest Asia.

Are there any significant, historical mountain passes between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Look for cultural patterns in this huge area and be alert to surprising things that appear in these patterns. This area has been well-traveled for eons by traders, invaders, and tribes. Take a look at the variety of short video clips on YouTube about this area starting with this one: Pakistan/Afghanistan Mountains.

Ever since I watched 'The Man who would be King' (based on a short story by Kipling), I've been interested in the Khyber Pass. This is only one of a couple ways to get into Afghanistan from Pakistan. It has been used for military purposes for centuries, including Alexander the Great up to the United States in our current war on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

I was interested to note that Afghanistan is home to a large number of Suni Muslims - more so than the surrounding countries. I also was intrigued by this map: which shows the density of Sikhs in Southwest Asia. The greatest concentration is in northwest India, but even though there are high numbers on the Indian side of the border, almost no Sikhs live in Pakistan.

Please view this video from TED, Parag Khanna Maps the Future of Countries. What jumped out at you from the video? Did anything surprise you? Summarize your thoughts about it.

"‎History doesn't necessarily repeat itself, but it does ... rhyme."

This is so true! I really liked this presentation, and I agree with his idea that if we concentrate on how these countries are connected, on the curvy lines that cross the borders, then we have a chance at establishing peace between them, rather than fighting over the location of a line. Of course, moving those lines around, especially in Africa, to closer match the people living on the globe will go some way towards being able to work together.

Map Exercise: Greenland and Iceland

Mývatn is a volcanic lake in northern Iceland.
Jökulsá á Brú is a river in eastern Iceland.
Snæfellness is a mountain in western Iceland.
Reykjanes is a peninsula, also in western Iceland
Lambert Land is on the north-eastern coast of Greenland, just south of Kronprins Christian Land.

Site and Situation

Greenland is a very large island, covered almost entirely with an ice cap. The coastal regions are sparsely populated and comprised of fjords (narrow bays with steep banks). The ice cap has created a depression in the land, and if it all melted, it would be an island with a big sea in the center ... kind of like a doughnut.

Iceland is a mountainous and volcanic island. The landscape is barren, covered in tundra and small glaciers. Iceland is home to a moderate population, concentrated near the coastal regions. Interestingly, Icelandic is the closest language to English (source Mario Pei's History of Language).

Greenland and Iceland are situated in the north Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America. To the north lies the Arctic ocean, to the west lies Canada and to the right lies northern Europe, including the British isles and Norway.

Iceland has recently requested admission into the European Union. Greenland became a country in its own right in 2009.


Describe the ethnic composition of the population of Iceland and Greenland.

Greenland: Inuit 89%, Danish and other 11%; Iceland: homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts 94%, population of foreign origin 6%

Analysis: Women’s Rights are Human Rights

Hillary Clinton presented the speech, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, at the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women. Her immediate audience consisted of women who were already united in a common cause, that of promoting women’s rights as being an essential, and overlooked aspect of human rights. Despite this, her actual audience, the people who she wished to persuade with her message were the male leaders of the world who “question the reason for this conference,” and those “who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe.” Clinton employs various premises throughout her speech, but I would like to focus on the process premise of the emotion, guilt; the cultural premise of the triumphant individual; and the content premise of reasoning from symptoms.

The process premise of guilt is defined as an appeal to our sense of moral responsibility, usually by creating the realization that we have violated some moral rule or code of conduct. Clinton shares some disheartening facts concerning the number of women who are illiterate or live in poverty. She then continues to connect these same women in the minds of the listeners to their own mothers, daughters and wives by referring to them as caretakers, and describing their daily activities (cooking, cleaning, raising families, working, etc). She then returns to the idea that these women are being treated unjustly, are dying from preventable diseases, are being subjugated by their male family members and are denied the basic rights of self government. The male audience members should be feeling pretty guilty, either personally if they have advocated for any policies that might have encouraged these circumstances, or vicariously as a member of the male portion of the population which are promulgating this cultural phenomenon.

The cultural premise of the triumphant individual concerns the parable of the humble individual who works hard and eventually attains or even exceeds their goals and ambitions. Clinton uses this premise in her speech when she speaks of the women who she has met around the world who are working (despite government and cultural suppression) towards bettering their own lives and the lives of their families. Examples that she gives are the women who helped end apartheid, and the women in India who are creating businesses by purchasing milk cows, thread or rickshaws. I believe that this premise is especially useful in persuading men who may believe that women are weak, unenterprising or unmotivated. It also serves to inspire the other women listening to return home and encourage their peers to take action.

The content premise of reasoning from symptoms is defined as the practice of identifying a series of symptoms and then drawing a conclusion from them. Near the end of her speech, Clinton listed a series of human rights violations that strictly apply to females. She uses this list to imply that these issues are overlooked when discussing human rights, and that human rights so often refer only to men’s rights. The symptoms are the gross mistreatment of women, the cause is the cultural idea of inequality, and her proposed cure: the elevation of the world’s women to that of equals.

The non-verbal aspects of this speech that stood out to me the most were first off Clinton’s bright pink suit. It said, “hey! I’m a woman! I can wear pink if I feel like it, I am not bound by men’s fashions and expectations.” This tied in with her overall tone that women are equal to men, and should not be expected to play by their rules in every case. Another aspect was the way in which Clinton swiveled her head from left to right in between each statement, ensuring that each portion of the audience felt that she had noticed them, and was speaking to everyone there. Lastly, setting the last portion of her speech into a list format (using repetition!) allowed the audience time and opportunity to cheer and clap after each point was made. If she had given this list at the beginning of her speech, it would not have been as effective, as the audience was not all pumped up over the topic yet, and there might not have been any cheering, or if there had been, it would have detracted from the bulk of her message, which was sober rather than evangelical. Overall, this was an effective speech, but I believe it could have been more effective with a more dynamic speaker. Clinton’s voice was too monotone throughout much of the speech, and did not betray enough emotion over this important issue.

Works Cited

Clinton, H. R. (1995, September 5). Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Speech presented at U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session, Beijing, China. Retrieved March 8, 2012 from

SeanMichaelLeonard (2008, March 11). Hillary Clinton in Beijing, China - September 5, 1995. Retrieved March 8, 2012 from

Discussion: Ethnicities

Question: How can you confuse geographers?
Answer: Put them in a round room and tell them to sit in the corner.
Another question: How many geographers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one who can hold the bulb while the Earth turns around him or her.
These two jokes were not initially written about geographers but instead about ethnic groups.

Why are ethnic "jokes" frequently interchangeable among various ethnicities? Where do we learn to stereotype? Why do we stereotype people based on their ethnicity?

Most of the jokes I've heard have less to do with making fun of something unique about the ethnicity in question, but just general ideas such as intelligence. You can hear the same jokes about blonds, women, people in the poor town nearby, people in the state north of your own (of all the states I've lived in, it's always the state to the north that is the rival, which seems arbitrary).

We learn to stereotype most from our parents and family members, then next from our peers and other adults in our lives (including the media). We base our stereotypes on ethnicity because we perceive them as different than ourselves. Human psychological make-up encourages us to differentiate between 'us' and 'them'. This was originally a group survival thing, but can get in the way of peaceful relations if we let it.

Briefly research and summarize an ethnic conflict that is not mentioned in the text. Describe the area of the Earth where it is occurring. Why is the conflict happening? What impact has the conflict had on the landscape and the people who live there?

Thailand (in southeast Asia), with a 95% Buddhist population is home to a number of Muslims and ethnic Malaysians in the southern three provinces. A portion of these are fighting for independence or possibly alignment with Malaysia. Since 2004, 5,000 people have been killed in this struggle. The conflict started because the members of these southern provinces were under-represented in politics and the economy. They felt as though they were second-class citizens, and demanded recognition. Many citizens would be happy with equal representation, but those who are fighting have higher goals.

The effect that this war is having on the people is immense. The southern Thai Buddhist towns are living in terror that a bomb will go off, that they will be shot as they walk home from the temple, that their village will be wiped out. but, just as the Malays want equality and justice, the Buddhists want to live on their own land.

Choose any three figures in this chapter and briefly explain what surprised you about the information it contained. Be specific in your explanation.

3. 7.1.4 : Distribution of American Indians

I was surprised that Indian population wasn't higher is more areas of the United States. If they counted people who are only part Indian, I think the map would be a lot different. I thought there were a lot more Indians in the southern section of New Mexico or even parts of Texas.

7.3.1 : Expansion of African American Population in Baltimore, 1960, 1980, 2000

I was interested to see how the population of African Americans expanded from a central location and expanded outward. I think it is a good example of how people like to live near others who they perceive as being similar to themselves in some way. If African Americans were migrating to Baltimore, but it was a 100% African American town, they would be more likely to settle near new jobs or in a neighborhood with others in the same socioeconomic class as themselves. In Baltimore's case, it seems that many settled near others of the same race and ethnicity.

7.7.2 : Major Tribes in Iraq

I was really shocked by how many tribes there are in Iraq! No wonder they are having difficulties! I'm also interested at how mixed they are in their territory, especially in the central areas near the Euphrates. I wonder how the tribes boundaries cross the border into the neighboring countries.

Look at the map of Africa on page 163. With that page in front of you, view the 10-minute YouTube video, The Scramble for Africa. This video gives an historical look at colonialism's impact on Africa, predominately in Uganda. It may help you understand why there is so much conflict in areas of the world that were colonized. I also want you to remember this video when we move into next week's chapter on Political Geography. After you've watched this short video, what did you learn that surprised you?

I've never really studied the colonization of Africa, so there was a lot of new information there. What surprised me most was the huge portions that Great Britain and France took control of. Such arrogance to split up a continent in such a way.

Map Exercise: Asia


The Indus River begins on the Tibetan Plateau, and travels northwestward along the northern edge of the Himalayas. It flows through the northern tip of Nepal, and then continues into the northern regions of Pakistan. From there, if flows south through Pakistan and finally out into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean on the southern Pakistani coast. I didn't realize that the Indus never actually enters India ... fascinating!

The Salween River also begins on the Tibetan Plateau, and travels east and then south, paralleling the border between China and Myanmar. Eventually, the border crosses the river, and the Salween continues to flow south into eastern Myanmar and eventually meets back up with the eastern border between Myanmar and Thailand, defining that border for aprox. 60 miles before heading back into Myanmar and then into the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The Huang River begins in the Tibetan Plateau, and meanders eastward through China until it reaches the Yellow Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The Ishikari River begins in the central mountains of the Hokkaido Island of Japan and flows west until it reaches the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.
The Yenisay River begins in Northern Mongolia in the Sayan Mountains. From here it flows west into Russia, and then almost straight north, picking up tributaries from central Siberia (including the runoff from lake Baikal. Finally, it reaches the Kara Sea and the Arctic Ocean.


The Pegunungan Barisan range follows the western coastline of the Indonesian island of Sumatera.
The T'aebaek-Sanmaek Range follows the eastern coastline of South Korea.
The Atlay Mountains lie at the convergence of western Mongolia, northern China, eastern Kazakhstan and southern Russia. They are fairly small, but are culturally significant.

Site and Situation

Asia is the largest continent, as well as the most diverse. Reaching from 10 degrees south to more than 80 degrees north, Asia contains almost every climate type. Much of the continent is mountainous, with a few exceptions, notably western Russia, much of the Arabian peninsula, pockets of China and India and the great central plateau of Tibet (a recent acquisition of China) and Mongolia, which is high, but fairly flat.

The western area of Asia, also referred to as the Middle East, is characterized by significant desertification, low population, a dry and hot climate and little vegetation. The exception to that is the peninsula of Turkey which has a much higher precipitation rate, population, vast grasslands rather than sand and overall greater livability. Central Asia can be looked at as a series of bands laying horizontally across the landscape. In the far north is the frozen tundra of northern Russia, below that, starting at about the Arctic Circle are the great taiga forests, reaching all the way from the Ural mountains to the eastern coast.

Below that are the grasslands of Asia, reaching from the Ural River, north of the Caspian Sea and then west to the Yellow Sea of China. Next is the desert regions, beginning east of the Caspian Sea, and continuing with some moderation through Tajikistan and then through the Tibetan Plateau, the Takla Makan and Gobi Deserts. The Chinese coast to the east of the Gobi is moderated in its climate by the Pacific Ocean, and is covered by cropland and temperate forests.

South of this area is the great Himalayan mountains, which are the largest in the world. At this point, the stratification of the landscape ends, and the rest of southern Asia has many unique regions. Beginning in the west, India is characterized by dry forested areas, changing to lush tropical forests in the northeast. This climate continues throughout southern China and the Indonesian islands which, besides India, is the location of much of the Asian population.

Off of the eastern coast lie a number of larger island systems, including the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. These islands range from tropical to temperate as they lie farther north. Other items of note ... The Middle East, although low in population because of its harsh climate is home to a rich supply of petroleum deposits, making it an important political fuse.

Although Asia is so large, most of the population is concentrated along the eastern coast, the Indian peninsula, Turkey and Japan. These areas correspond with beneficial climates and relative access from the other areas of the world (for example, the Taiga might be a nice enough place to live, but it is cut off from most other areas of asia through long distances. If you look at the population density map though, you'll see tat is is more populated than the tundra and desert regions to the north and south).

Asia is situated in the north-eastern hemisphere (with a bit of the southern islands reaching into the southeastern). It touches all but one of the major oceans of the world (the Southern Ocean which surrounds Antarctica) as well as being within throwing distance of all but two of the world's continents (South America and Antarctica). To the north lies the Arctic Ocean, and the northeastern tip of Asia almost meets the northwestern tip of North America. To the east lies the Pacific Ocean, and to the South lies the Island of Australia and the area of Oceania as well as the Indian Ocean. To the west lies northern Africa (connected by a small northern edge of Egypt), the Mediterranean Sea and western Europe and the western portion of Russia (on the other side of the Ural divide).

The problem of travelling between Europe and eastern Asia was the focus of much energy in the years before modern transportation. The Silk Road was a large network of roads, cities and trading posts between the Middle East and northeastern China. Up through the 1800s, before steam powered ships, the trip around Africa, then across the Indian Ocean and through the Strait of Malacca was dangerous and took navigational skill and timing in order to reach the rich spice islands beyond. Much of Asia has developed separately from our own cultural center of Europe, and this cause quite a culture clash when we finally met. We took many technological advances back with us, and the Chinese adopted some of our technologies as well. I think the technological history oneupmanship that we engage is is amusing, where each culture tries to claim origination of a common cultural idea earlier in history than the other cultures.


Name an area in Asia that has seen conflict based on religious practices and give a brief explanation of the conflict.

Sri Lanka (off the coast of India) was the location of a struggle between Buddhists and the Tamil branch of Hinduism. In the early 80s, the Tamil (an 18% minority concentrated in the northern and eastern coastal areas) demanded that they be given those portions of the island as a separate, independent nation due to human rights concerns over their treatment by the Sri Lankan government. This conflict went on for decades with an estimated 60 to 100 thousand deaths on all sides. A series of events beginning in 2002, including the 2004 tsunami led to the end of the conflict in 2009. The entire conflict resulted from discrimination based on people's religion and ethnicity.

Discussion: Religions

The topic of religions can be uncomfortable because of our individual issues of faith and observance and/or intolerance of other points of view. This discomfort can serve as a conversation point for these reasons: the geographic study of religion is not interested in whether a particular religion is "right" or "wrong," but rather that geographers are interested in how religious beliefs affect the use of space and impact the landscape. With that in mind, this is an emotional, yet simple topic to examine because the competition for space (land) based on religions with overlapping claims is so popular.

Take a look at world map on pages 128 and 129 in your text. Study it closely. What two things jump out at you about the distribution of the world’s major religions? Look for patterns and be alert to surprising things that appear in these patterns.

I was most struck by how poorly this map was put together. The colors for the different religions are too close to each other ... each religious family should have been part of the same color family, with variations within that range for the various branches. grrr. I looked up a different map so that I could visualize it better.
To actually answer the question: I was interested to see that even though Protestantism originated in Germany, it did not spread very far in Europe (mainly Germany, the UK and Scandinavia), and globally, mostly took root in a few areas that the British Colonized.

I am also interested to see that with the exception of central Africa, and India, the entire world is dominated by universalizing religions. I'm a bit sad abut that, as I think ethnic religions are more interesting :-)

We know that people carry their religious beliefs with them when they migrate and over time, change occurs in the regions from which most U.S. immigrants originate and in the U.S. regions where they settle. How has the distribution of U.S. religious groups been affected by these changes?

I know that the discrimination of Jews and certain protestant groups in Europe in the 1400s onward drove them to seek out America as a refuge. Because of this we have higher numbers of these "fringe" religious groups than other nations (despite constant antagonism towards them throughout our history). As countries or states created laws against specific religious groups, it pushed them out of those regions and into new areas where they hoped to be allowed to practice their religion without persecution (although this was almost never the case in the long run). In the united states, as new religions would migrate to the United states or become created by new religious leaders, the adherents would move farther and farther west, as that was the area where there would be the least amount of discrimination (since there were no neighbors!) You can see this on the map of the distribution of Protestants in the US. On the east coast, it is fairly evenly divided - all the baptists live together, all the Methodists live together, and all the Lutherans live together. In the western states (especially northwestern), on the other hand, it looks like a checkers board! with all of the religions mixing together and chance more than anything dictating which has the greatest number of congregants.

Describe the differences between Roman and Orthodox Catholicism. Include in your explanation the location of where both are located today.

Roman Catholics broke from the main body of the christian church when they adopted the pope as a "super-bishop" over the other bishops. In the Orthodox church, each Bishop is sovereign over his own area. Because of this differences arose where the Orthodox religion changes less doctrinally because of the checks that having a non-central governing system tends to have on groups. These two forms of Catholicism also differ because of the regions in which they center. Orthodox clergy wear beards and can marry, Roman clergy are celibate and are smooth faced. Roman Eucharist is flat (unleavened), where Orthodox Eucharist is fluffy (leavened). The Roman Catholics dispersed to much of the former Roman Empire, and then to those countries colonies in South America, Africa and Asia. The Orthodox catholic church dispersed throughout Western and Northern Asia, following the paths of least resistance. The areas in Europe that had the least Roman influence (Britain, Scandinavia and Germany) were the countries that left Catholicism for Protestantism in later times.

Source: Differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism and the maps in our text book.

Name one area of the world where more than one religion is present and describe the area and the religions. How does religion play a role in the area?

I'm going to go with Japan because it has some interesting religious circumstances.

Japan is a large group of islands off the northeast coast of Asia in the Pacific ocean. If you look at the CIA Factbook for Japan, you'll see this breakdown of religious affiliation: Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8% ... You might notice that this far exceeds 100%. This is because in Japan, many (most!) people do not consider themselves to be of one religion or another. A Japanese person may have birth and childhood ceremonies in a Shinto shrine, a Christian wedding, venerate both Buddhist and Shinto deities in their home and then have a Buddhist funeral. Another aspect of Japanese religion is that an estimated 50 to 80 percent of Japanese are non-religious, and do not believe in God or Buddha. Japan has long had a tradition of religious syncretism, which means that the various religions of the area sync together rather than conflict. Many of the Buddhas merged together with the Kami of Shintoism to become different aspects of the same deity.

Shintoism concerns itself with the lives of the people. The word Shinto is the Chinese form of the Japanese name for the religion, kami-no-michi, which means 'The way of the Kami'. Kami is the Japanese word for divine essence or spirit. The religion is organized through local shrines. Each shrine is devoted to a Kami. There are small shrines, devoted to personal ancestors or local natural landmarks (such as a waterfall or an old tree). There are moderately sized shrines devoted to local deities or national deities or cultural heroes. These usually serve towns or small sections of a city. Then, there are the really important shrines that are devoted to national deities or very large natural landmarks such as mountains and Volcanoes. The shrine is kept by a priest who acts as a community leader, teacher and clergy. In larger shrines, there are many attendants and other ancillary roles that keep the shrine running. I could keep writing about Shinto for waaaay too long :-) It is a religion based on the idea that everything has a spirit, and those spirits can live on after death. They are attached to humans, natural landmarks, plants, animals and inanimate objects. These spirits must be treated with respect or they will become angry or depressed, causing things to go wrong.

Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the 6th century, along with much other Chinese culture. It was adopted by the aristocracy and then spread to the rest of the population. Most forms of Buddhism are present in Japan, but all of them have been modified by Shintoism, which did not have a name before Buddhism was introduced (as it was just part of life, they had not conceived of a life without their traditions and culture).

The other religions in Japan include Christianity, the folk religion of the Ainu in northern Japan and the people of the Ryukyu islands, Baha'i, Islamism, Hinduism, and Judaism.

Shinto, The Kami Way, by Sokyo Ono;
The Essence of Shinto, by Motohisa Yamakage;
Folk Religion in Japan: Continuity and Change, by Ichiro Hori;
Religious demographics in Japan

Our map assignment for this week is Asia so let's examine an historical event that occurred in the U.S. during WWII that involved an Asian culture: the internment of people of Japanese descent throughout the western U.S. If you do not know about the practice of interning the Japanese during WW II, please do some research before you participate in this discussion point. View this YouTube video on Japanese Internment Camps. Also please view these three documents: the Resettlement Order, Instructions to Japanese, and the Apology. The United States was involved in battles around the world during WWII. From a geographical perspective, what were the pros and cons of the practice of interring the Japanese?

The US government was worried that people living in the United States of Japanese ethnicity would hold a greater allegiance to their country of origin than to the United States. They targeted Japanese community leaders regardless of their opinions on the war or how long they or their families had been living in the United States. The pros to this practice (in light of the goal, I personally think it was horrible) was to break up the concentrations of Japanese families. The US used to have as many Japan towns as China towns. Now however, they have almost all dissipated. If there had been an uprising among this ethnic population, this breakup of the communities would have effectively halted it, as a people divided and kept apart have little means to work together for any end. A con to this practice is very much related. The Japanese in this country no longer have a cultural hearth that they can look to for support. For a people that had been so seeped in tradition and culture to no longer have access to other people who practice as they do or have a shared history is robbing all of us of the richness that diverse cultures bring to our country.