Human & Physical Characteristics of a Place

Human and physical characteristics of a place define the location, describe what it is like, explain why it is important and demonstrate human-environmental interactions.The physical characteristics of a place exist in nature, and make the place what is. The human characteristics of a place are those that exist only because humans exist or existed there. These are things that do not naturally occur in the place but are needed for human life and survival.

Location on Earth

Location is considered a physical characteristic, and may be indicated by specific longitude and latitude or GPS coordinates. These are fixed, unchanging characteristics. Location may also mean relative location, such as distance from another location or relative distance from the location's surroundings. Its relative distance from bodies of fresh water, an ocean or other important natural elements can lead to an understanding of the location's importance.

Natural Environment

The natural environment of a place is basically what the place is like in nature. Environmental characteristics may include weather changes and climate, organic plants and animal life, insects and bodies of water or rivers. Human characteristics of the place may affect the natural environment through population density and infrastructure, as well as through religion, politics and language. Businesses and foods from the area also imbue the environment with human characteristics.

Human Interactions with Nature

Humans interact with the environment wherever they exist. This is seen in farm land, irrigation setups, mining efforts and societal structures. Humans originally relied on the environment for reasons such as fertile soil for crops or animal populations for food. Over time, human interaction begins to shape a place to fit the needs of the culture or society, such as expanding boundaries, levelling land, adding non-native plants or even non-native animals.

Regional Variations

As places grow with populations and transportation advances, they begin to develop regional differences. Think about how many major cities contain a Chinatown that seems regionally different from other parts of the city but is still part of the place. The same can be said of Boston's North End, where a large number of Italian families settled, bringing their Italian culture and influence. Regional variations may also include physical characteristics, such as swamp land, mountains or forest areas.

Immigration and Migration

Movement is a natural part of human life and evolution. Sometimes the movement is triggered by environmental changes, such as flooding, overuse of farm land or the development of nearby places that require transportation routes linking them. Immigration refers to outsiders coming into a place, which can bring new human characteristics such as a foreign language, a cultural blend and new foods. The human and physical characteristics of a place will often reflect the reasons people live there or choose not to.

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About the Author

Sasha Maggio specializes in topics related to psychology, fitness, nutrition, health, medicine, dentistry, and recovery after surgery, as well as cultural topics including Buddhism, Japanese culture, travel, languages and cooking. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Japanese from the University of Hawaii, as well as a Master of Arts in forensic psychology. She is currently pursuing Medical and PhD programs.