The 5 Themes of Geography: Regions

Contributor: Hallah Elbeleidy. Lesson ID: 10412

Do you say Pop, Soda, or Cola to refer to a fizzy drink? What food is your area noted for? Using lots of interactive maps, relevant videos, and a personal research paper, learn about region geography!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


You’ve most likely heard of Southern hospitality, or that people are laid back in the West, or even that New Yorkers are always in a rush to get somewhere.

  • Where do these regional differences among Americans come from? 
  • Is there truth to them or are these generalizations just techniques we use to simplify large amounts of information about people and places?

The final Related Lesson in our Themes of Geography series, found in the right-hand sidebar, is about region.

Region refers to an area of land that has common features.

A region can be defined by natural or artificial features. Language, government, and religion can define a region, as can forests, wildlife, and climate. In other words, regions are developed to organize and simplify a vast amount of information. They are defined in such a way that the information they provide will be useful.

Regions in the U.S. are usually grouped into 5, according to their geographic position: the Northeast, Southwest, West, Southeast, and Midwest. Take a look at this National Geographic US Regions Map of the five regions in the U.S.

You’ll have an opportunity to explore other regions of the world defined by artificial features like language, religion, and political parties.


2012 Electoral Map: Barack Obama Wins (

  • Read the entire length of the article. You will be introduced to a different type of data representation known as a cartogram. A cartogram purposefully distorts the geometry or base of a map in order to convey information of an alternative variable, e.g., political party.
  • Another way of visualizing the population distribution of the U.S. is by tinkering in this interactive map of How Many Flyover States does it take to Equal One NYC? ( Read the entire length of the article. You can also change the variable to which you are comparing. Check out the tabs of different cities and states located directly under the map of the U.S. This tool makes the concentration of where people live very visible.

The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts (Axon Translate)


World Religions Interactive Map (

  • It is important to recognize that the initial layout of the map depicts the prevailing beliefs of all countries, which means that you are only seeing what the majority of people in each nation believe. Be sure to check out the breakdown of each religion by clicking on the Menu on the upper right-hand side of the map.

Food Maps (

  • Although not 100% accurate, these food maps depict a country or continent’s food cuisine in fun and playful ways. Food cuisine can also be another lens through which to look at regional differences. These differences are usually at a much smaller scale than religion or language.

Pop vs Soda (

  • This map divides the U.S. into regions based on the use of the words "pop," "soda," and "coke." As you can probably tell, there is an infinite amount of creative ways to spatially analyze differences among us!


Watch this fascinating visualization on the spread of religion around the world: Animated map shows how religion spread around the world:


  • Take a look at this Historical Presidential Election Map Timeline from You’ll be able to select your desired year from the dropdown menu. What changes do you see?

  • How the States Voted in Every Presidential Election video (below). This is a well-done visual of the changing political landscape of the United States from the very beginning of its nationhood. You may remember or have heard of 2 or 3 of the most recent elections. Even in the span of 8 to 12 years, the political shifts are noticeable:


Continue on to the Got It? section to practice what you have learned so far.

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