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Your Map of the World

Okay, here’s a quick challenge for a weekend…. sit down with a blank piece of paper and draw a map of the world.

earth89a.gifHow’s it look? For most Americans, it looks pretty sketchy, especially as you leave North and South America and try for Africa and Asia. And even if you’re well above that average, you’ll probably discover a few of your own terra incognitas… big chunks of the world where you’re not quite sure what’s out there.

It’s easy to educate yourself, though, and fun, too. For starters, National Geographic offers free downloadable wall-size world maps. You have to tape them together, but you can do it and have a great reference in just a few minutes.

If you don’t have an atlas in your home, it’s well worth the investment to get one. You can pay a lot for a big, beautiful one, but you can do just fine with any of the “student atlases” for sale at Amazon, for about $10 each or less. You can also find a lot of info online. Here’s an online atlas.

Here’s (in a nutshell) the steps I take students through in my geography classes, to get them familiar with their planet…For each one, click on the link to go to a site that offers a quick overview of the topic.

1. The size and shape of the planet.
2. The general layout of the oceans and continents, and the geographic grid (latitude and longitude).
3. The geological forces that shape the planet… plate tectonics.
4. Climate regions.
5. The ecosystems of the planet and their distribution.
6. Populations… where the people are, and the characteristics of those populations.

We go on from there to look at those human populations, and their interactions with the natural world, in more detail, but I think that’s enough for now! And learning about the world from the Internet is great, but it sure whets the appetite to get out there and see it live.