Location [Stds. 1, 3]
Place [Stds. 4, 7, 9, 10]
Human-Environment Interaction [Stds. 8, 12, 14-18]
Movement [Stds. 11, 13]
Regions [Stds. 2, 5, 6]


 Standard 4: Physical and
Human Characteristics of Places

TABLE OF CONTENTS
STANDARD 4 INTRODUCTION: PLACES AND SPACES

Places are domesticated spaces, and it is through the process of naming them that spaces on the Earth's surface become places. These conceptual differences must be acknowledged if the Geographer's craft is to be understood.

In attempting to understand the world within which we live, humans — even before there was a subject called "geography" — attempted to categorize the myriad natural environments they encountered. At the most fundamental level, distinctions were made between water and land, uplands and lowlands, lakes and rivers. City and country, marketplace and farm, field and factory are similar categories — named generic places — that humans created. Each of these is a named area of the Earth at a broad, generic level of understanding. In some sense, this level of generalization is a kind of taxonomy, a system of classification that embraces a sliding scale of "natural regions."
In East Asia, as elsewhere in the world, people have endowed spaces with meaning by giving them names. Knowing the names of places, the characteristics of places, and the relationships between and among places are all building blocks towards Geographic literacy. Students and teachers alike frequently get frustrated learning names that seem strange at first because of seemingly odd combinations of letters that are elusive to remember. Still, students and teachers must grasp names of places.
READING: BASIC POINTS ON EAST ASIA'S GEOGRAPHY
In looking at the complexity of East Asia, it is useful to keep in mind some of the basic points of interest that relate to people, places, and regions:

Show All Maps | Hide All Maps

CASE STUDY: CHINA

In approaching the complexity of China, Robert W. McColl's article Understanding the Geography of China: An Assemblage of Pieces** [Education about Asia] provides the most important information needed to understand the regional subdivisions of China, with useful cues as to how to remember the "pieces" and their relationships to each other. This article is also used in Standard 11 of this unit.

[** Robert W. McColl wrote two different articles under this title. One, linked above, is an illustrated article published in Education about Asia, vol. 4, no 2, Fall 1999. The second article appears as a background essay (PDF) in the Asia Society's Teacher's Guide to the exhibit Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China. This background essay provides additional information on the same topics that are discussed in the EAA article, but has no visuals. Teachers and students may want to read both articles to get a fuller understanding of China's diversity.]

The following maps can be used to illustrate McColl's article:
// REGIONAL MAP OF CHINA

1) Regional map of China, showing all the regions mentioned in McColl's article, except the Yunnan-Guizhou area, which is west of the southwest upland region. 2) Map of the Grand Canal, also not shown on Map 1.

// REALMS OF CHINA
Map showing realms of China [PDF] with colors but no labels, to show characteristics of different regions in China.
// MOUNTAINS AND DESERTS OF CHINA
Outline map showing mountains and deserts of China.
// THE GRAND CANAL, THE GREAT WALL, AND THE MAJOR RIVERS OF CHINA
Outline map showing the Grand Canal, the Great Wall, and the major rivers of China.
// CONTOUR MAP OF CHINA
Map showing China's topography.
CASE STUDY: JAPAN
Although significantly smaller than China, Japan has its own important regional divisions. In learning about Japan's regions, one of the things to note is the way regional characteristics influence land utilization.
ADDITIONAL MAPS: Please see the RESOURCES section for additional maps of Japan.
CASE STUDY: KOREAN PENINSULA
The elements of Korea's physical and cultural geographies are well discussed in the AskAsia.org essay, Geography of the Koreas.
The following maps of the Korean peninsula on AskAsia.org are also useful: 1) Korean Peninsula Locator Political Map (1999); 2) South/North Korea Political Map (1999); 3) North Korea Physical Elevation Map; 4) South Korea Physical Elevation Map
CASE STUDY: VIETNAM
Vietnam maps from AskAsia.org: 1) Vietnam Elevation Map (1999); 2) Vietnam Political Map (1999)
PLACES ARE NOT STATIC

Social, economic, political, and physical factors continuously contribute to reshaping places. Values, ideologies, and technologies contribute to the reorganization of space. Life along rivers in Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam differ in as much as their cultures differ.

LESSON PLAN: Life on the Rivers of Asia [National Geographic]

These several factors help students understand why places are the way they are, especially in terms of the cultural factors that help shape spaces. Knowing how and why places undergo change provides useful information for decision-making and enables us to better understand the attachment individuals and peoples have for the places they inhabit.
// VISITING ASIA THROUGH WEBCAMS
Webcams today are deployed throughout Asia, providing extraordinary glimpses of the physical majesty and cultural landscapes of this vast region. For live Webcam footage of Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, can be accessed by using a Google search "Live Webcam Footage of (name of city)."
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