AP Human Geography Unit 3: Cultural Patterns and Processes Notes

April 9, 2024
AP Human Geography Unit 3 Study Notes

There’s so much to remember as you study for the AP Human Geography Exam. To help you organize your AP Human Geography studies, we’ve compiled short unit summaries and key terms for you to use. See our AP Human Geography Unit 3 summary and key terms below. 

AP Human Geography: Unit 3 Summary

Cultural geography is the study of how cultures vary over space. Cultural geographers also study the ways in which cultures interact with their environments. Possibilism, the notion that humans are the primary architects of culture and yet are limited somewhat by their environmental surroundings, is now a dominant paradigm in the field. Geographers study a wide diversity of cultural traits, including language, religion, and ethnicity. Geographers also study the everyday aspects of people’s lives, such as folk traditions and popular culture, in order to better understand the many ways that diverse people make sense of a rapidly changing world.

AP Human Geography: Unit 3 Key Terms

  • Acculturation: The adoption of cultural traits, such as language, by one group under the influence of another. 
  • Animism: Most prevalent in Africa and the Americas, doctrine in which the world is seen as being infused with spiritual and even supernatural powers. 
  • Artifact: Any item that represents a material aspect of culture. 
  • Buddhism: System of belief that seeks to explain ultimate realities for all people—such as the nature of suffering and the path toward self-realization.
  • Caste system: System in India that gives every Indian a particular place in the social hierarchy from birth. Individuals may improve the position they inherit in the caste system in their next life through their actions, or karma. After many lives of good karma, they may be relieved from the cycle of life and win their place in heaven. 
  • Christianity: The world’s most widespread religion. Christianity is a monotheistic, universal religion that uses missionaries to expand its members worldwide. The three major categories of Christianity are Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox. 
  • Creole: A pidgin language that evolves to the point at which it becomes the primary language of the people who speak it. 
  • Cultural complex: The group of traits that define a particular culture. 
  • Cultural extinction: Obliteration of an entire culture by war, disease, acculturation, or a combination of the three. 
  • Cultural geography: The subfield of human geography that looks at how cultures vary over space. 
  • Cultural hearths: Locations on the earth’s surface where specific cultures first arose. 
  • Cultural imperialism: The dominance of one culture over another. 
  • Cultural relativism: Understanding a culture on its own terms rather than judging it by the standards or customs of one’s own culture. 
  • Cultural traits: The specific customs that are part of the everyday life of a particular culture, such as language, religion, ethnicity, social institutions, and aspects of popular culture. 
  • Culture: A total way of life held in common by a group of people, including learned features such as language, ideology, behavior, technology, and government.
  • Customs: Practices followed by the people of a particular cultural group. 
  • Denomination: A particular religious group, usually associated with differing Protestant belief systems. 
  • Dialects: Geographically distinct versions of a single language that vary somewhat from the parent form. 
  • Diaspora: People who come from a common ethnic background but who live in different regions outside of the home of their ethnicity. 
  • Ecumene: The proportion of the earth inhabited by humans. 
  • Environmental determinism: A doctrine that claims that cultural traits are formed and controlled by environmental conditions. 
  • Esperanto: A constructed international auxiliary language incorporating aspects of numerous linguistic traditions to create a universal means of communication. 
  • Ethnic cleansing: The systematic attempt to remove all people of a particular ethnicity from a country or region either by forced migration or genocide.
  • Ethnic neighborhood: An area within a city containing members of the same ethnic background. 
  • Ethnic religion: Religion that is identified with a particular ethnic or tribal group and that does not seek new converts. 
  • Ethnicity: Refers to a group of people who share a common identity. 
  • Ethnocentrism: An evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions of one’s own cultural standards and traditions. 
  • Evangelical religion: Religion in which an effort is made to spread a particular belief system. 

Check out the rest of our AP Human Geography Unit 3 Notes.