Including IB recommended definitions of important geographic terms
Core and periphery
The concept of a developed core surrounded by an undeveloped periphery. The concept can be applied at various scales.
Ecological footprint
The theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste under prevailing technology.
Global climate change
The changes in global patterns of rainfall and temperature, sea level,habitats and the incidences of droughts, floods and storms, resulting from changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, believed to be mainly caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect
Gross national income (now used in preference to gross national product—GNP). The total value of goods and services produced within a country together with the balance of income and payments from or to other countries.
The movement of people, involving a change of residence. It can be internal or external (international) and voluntary or forced. It does not include temporary circulations such as commuting or tourism.
Transfers of money/goods by foreign workers to their home countries.
Soil degradation
A severe reduction in the quality of soils. The term includes soil erosion, salinization and soil exhaustion (loss of fertility).
Water scarcity
Can be defined as:
• Physical water scarcity, where water resource development is approaching or has exceeded unsustainable levels; it relates water availability to water demand and implies that arid areas are not necessarily water scarce
• Economic water scarcity, where water is available locally but not accessible for human, institutional or financial capital reasons.
Optional Themes:
1. Hazard and Disaster
A major hazard event that causes widespread disruption to a community
or region that the affected community is unable to deal with adequately without outside help.
A threat (whether natural or human) that has the potential to cause loss of life, injury, property damage, socio‑economic disruption or environmental degradation.
Hazard event
The occurrence (realization) of a hazard, the effects of which change demographic, economic and/or environmental conditions.
The probability of a hazard event causing harmful consequences (expected losses in terms of deaths, injuries, property damage, economy and environment).
The susceptibility of a community to a hazard or to the impacts of a hazard event
Optional Theme
2. “Leisure, sport and tourism”

Carrying capacity
The maximum number of visitors/participants that a site/event can satisfy at one time. It is customary to distinguish between environmental carrying capacity (the maximum number before the local environment get damaged) and perceptual carrying capacity (the maximum number before a specific group of visitors considers the level of impact, such as noise, to be excessive). For example, young mountain bikers may be more crowd‑tolerant than elderly walkers.
Any freely chosen activity or experience that takes place in non‑work time.
Primary tourist/recreational resources
The pre‑existing attractions for tourism or recreation (that is, those not built specifically for the purpose), including climate, scenery, wildlife, indigenous people, cultural and heritage sites. These are distinguished from secondary tourist/recreational resources, which include accommodation, catering, entertainment and shopping.
A leisure‑time activity undertaken voluntarily and for enjoyment. It includes individual pursuits, organized outings and events, and non‑paid (non‑professional) sports.
A settlement where the primary function is tourism. This includes a hotel complex.
A physical activity involving a set of rules or customs. The activity may be competitive.
Travel away from home for at least one night for the purpose of leisure.
Note that this definition excludes day‑trippers. There are many possible subdivisions of tourism. Sub-groups include:
ecotourism—tourism focusing o n the natural environment and local communities
heritage tourism—tourism based on a historic legacy (landscape feature, historic building or event) as its major attraction
sustainable tourism—tourism that conserves primary tourist resources and supports the livelihoods and culture of local people.
Food miles
A measure of the distance that food travels from its source to the consumer. This can be given either in units of actual distance or of energy consumed during transport.
Transnational corporation
A firm that owns or controls productive operations in more than one country through foreign direct investment.
economic loss of tourists money, by tourists using companies not owned by the host country and spending money outside the host country (for example on a cruise ship)
Multiplier effect
Multiplier effect of tourism means that income gained by local people is circulated through the economy creating more wealth in turn.
Optional Theme
3. “Urban environments”
Brownfield site
Abandoned, derelict or under‑used industrial buildings and land that may be contaminated but have potential for redevelopment.
The movement of population away from inner urban areas to a new town, a new estate, a commuter town or a village on the edge or just beyond the city limits/rural–urban fringe.
Ecological footprint
The theoretical measurement of the amount of land and water a population requires to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb its waste under prevailing technology.
The development of activities to increase residential population densities within the existing built‑up area of a city. This may include the
redevelopment of vacant land, the refurbishment of housing and the development of new business enterprises.
A residential area within or just outside the boundaries of a city.
The outward growth of towns and cities to engulf surrounding villages and rural areas. This may result from the out‑migration of population from the inner urban area to the suburbs or from inward rural–urban movement.
Sustainable urban management strategy
An approach to urban management that seeks to maintain and improve the quality of life for current and future urban dwellers. Aspects of management may be social (housing quality, crime), economic (jobs,income) or environmental (air, water, land, resources).
An increasing percentage of a country’s population comes to live in towns and cities. It may involve both rural–urban migration and natural increase.
Urban sprawl
The unplanned and uncontrolled physical expansion of an urban area into the surrounding countryside. It is closely linked to the process of suburbanization.
HL extension—global interactions
Civil society
Any organization or movement that works in the area between the household, the private sector and the state to negotiate matters of public concern. Civil societies include non‑governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, trade unions, academic institutions and faith‑based
Cultural imperialism
The practice of promoting the culture/language of one nation in another. It is usually the case that the former is a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter is a smaller, less affluent one.
“The growing interdependence of countries worldwide through the increasing volume and variety of cross‑border transactions in goods and services and of international capital flows, and through the more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology” (source: IMF).
Globalization indices
The AT Kearney Foreign Policy index measures twelve variables, which are subdivided into four “baskets”: economic integration, personal contact, technological connectivity and political engagement. Nations are ranked according to a calculated globalization index.
The KOF index measures three main dimensions of globalization: economic, political and social, and nations are ranked accordingly. It is designed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology on a yearly basis.
A term that was invented to emphasize that the globalization of a product is more likely to succeed when the product or service is adapted specifically to each locality or culture in which it is marketed. The increasing presence of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide is an example of globalization, while changes made to the menus of the restaurant chain, in an attempt to appeal to local tastes, are an example of glocalization.
The concept of taking internal company functions and paying an outside firm to handle them. Outsourcing is done to save money, improve quality or free company resources for other activities.
Time–space convergence
The reduction in the time taken to travel between two places due to improvements in transportation or communication technology.

IBO. Geography subject outline, 2009

Fun time learning
Memory game on Globalization
Memory game2 on Globalization