The World's People


Discuss the concept of culture.
Investigate issues related to human population and to population growth.
Examine the role of renewable and nonrenewable resources in human activities.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 3: The World's People

Culture is the way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs. Culture includes eight elements or traits: social groups, language, religion, daily life, history, arts, government systems, and economic systems. Cultures change over time as new ideas and technologies are introduced. New knowledge and skills also spread to other cultures in a process called cultural diffusion. Geographers divide the world into culture regions.

The decline in the death rate and increase in the birthrate have led to a rapid rise in the world's population. As the population has grown, problems such as famine and scarcity of resources have challenged governments in many parts of the world. Many factors, such as availability of resources or religious beliefs, affect where people live. Today people are moving in large numbers from rural areas to cities.

Natural resources can be described as renewable or nonrenewable. Because of the uneven distribution of resources around the world, people have engaged in trade. The terms "developed country" or "developing country" are determined by the resources, manufacturing, and wealth of each nation.

The world's growing population threatens the delicate balance of life on earth. Issues such as pollution, land use, and scarcity of freshwater create the need for policies to protect the environment.

     Quick Notes


In geography, culture means a group of people who share the same beliefs and customs.
A people's culture includes their government, economy, language, religion, and social organization.
Four ancient cultures developed along river valleys.
Geographers study the world in terms of culture regions.


People live on only about 15 percent of the world's land.
Population is distributed very unevenly over the earth's surface.
Population can be measured in terms of density, or the average number of people living in a square mile or square kilometer.
Developed countries are industrialized. Developing countries are working toward that goal.
By the mid-1990s, the world's population totaled 5.5 billion.
Rapid population growth threatens the world's supply of food and resources.


Natural resources are renewable or nonrenewable.
Renewable resources such as forests, grasslands, and animal life can be replaced-if managed correctly.
Nonrenewable resources such as metals and fossil fuels cannot be replaced once they are used.
About half of the world's people live by farming-most by subsistence farming.
People who work in industry are employed in either manufacturing or service jobs.

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