AP® Human Geography | Top Q&A

What does religion have to do with Human Geography?


Understanding religious differences is important to the field of human geography. So what kind of religious geographer are you? Geographers study and record the locations of religions and use the results to explain why some religions are widely distributed and why others are extremely concentrated. There are two types of religions to study Human Geography: popular religion and national religion. After you read this AP® Human Geography study guide, you will have a better understanding of the difference between universality and ethnic religion. We will also explore why it is important to understand and examine the effects of the origin, distribution and spread of religions. This study guide will conclude on the extent of ethnicity and religion associated with the AP® Human Geography exam.

What is religion?

Reading Comprehension: What is a popular religion? Before we can understand the difference between popular religion and national religion, we must first discuss the definition of religion itself. You may not have sat and thought of religion as a purely concept, but religion is an important part of human culture, and it helps us honor and understand our place in the world. Religion is a common set of beliefs and practices through which man seeks harmony with the forces of the universe. It is also a general way of relating a belief that focuses on a system of thought, unseen, person, or object that is believed to be supernatural, divine, or divine. Religion can impact the way we interact with others and our environment, which in turn shapes the development of a person’s cultural landscape.

Theistic aspects of religion

Now that we know the basic definition of religion and why it is important for us to study religion as part of the AP® Human Geography course, we will now explore the different types of religion. Religions vary based on a number of factors. One factor that distinguishes different religions is the number of gods that the followers worship. In this respect, monotheism and polytheism are two classifications of religion. Religions are monotheistic because they believe in a supreme being or a god. In contrast to monotheism, polytheistic religions believe in more than one god or supreme being. The polytheistic religions practiced today include Hinduism and Shinto. As geographers, we need to consider religions with an eye on universals and nationalities. Origin and location largely define national and popular religions as well to help explain how religion spread over time.

Popularizing religion

First, let’s take a look at the definition of universal religion. Popularized religions provide belief systems that appeal to the entire population. They look for new members and welcome anyone and everyone who wants to adopt their belief system. Universal religions have diverse members who come from different ethnic backgrounds, hence the term universal. Thus, it is obvious that universal religions include many different ethnic groups because they convert and accept anyone of any background and are often not tied to one place.

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Christianity is the largest popular religion, both by area and number, with about two billion adherents. Founded on the teachings of Jesus, Christianity is monotheistic, believing that God is Triune and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The three main branches of Christianity are Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Roman Catholicism is the majority in Southwest Europe and Latin America, Protestantism in Northwest Europe and North America, and Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe. Eastern Orthodoxy is the largest single religious faith in Greece, Cyprus and Russia.


Islam is the second most popular religion with more than 1.5 billion adherents. In Arabic, Islam means “submission to the will of God”. Those who practice Islam are followers of Islam, which means one who surrenders to God. Islam begins with Abraham like Christianity and Judaism, but traces their story through Abraham’s second wife and sons, Hagar and Ishmael, not Sarah and Isaac like Christians and Jews Thai. Their leader and prophet is Muhammad. The two branches of Islam are Sunni and Shiite. The division between Sunni and Shia stems from a disagreement over leadership after Muhammad’s death in 632 AD. Islam is the predominant religion in the Middle East from North Africa to Central Asia. More than half of the world’s Muslims live in four countries outside the Middle East: Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.


Buddhism is the fourth largest religion, with about 350 million adherents. Buddhism was founded in Northern India by the first known Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. The core belief of Buddhism is reincarnation. According to this concept, people are reborn after death. One can attain Nirvana if one is free of attachment to desires and ego. Today, Buddhism is a majority religion in Southeast Asia, China and Japan.

National religion

Read more: What is the zodiac sign of August 29? Contrary to the popularization of religions, ethnic religions often include beliefs, superstitions and rituals handed down from generation to generation in a people and a culture. It follows one’s ethnicity as religion is not prone to conversion. In a sense, ethnic religions function like a folklore. It expands through resettlement spillovers and often increases through birth rates. Ethnic religions are closely related to the culture, national heritage, and physical geography of a particular place. Ethnic religions do not try to appeal to everyone, but only to a group, be it a locality or within a nation. Judaism and Hinduism are two typical examples of national religions.


Hinduism is the largest national religion and the third largest in the world with about 1 billion adherents. Hinduism existed before recorded history and had no specific founder. The origins of Hinduism in India are unclear; however, the oldest manuscripts date back to 1500 BC. Hinduism includes many different religious groups that developed in India from 1500 BC. Other religions are organized more centrally than Hinduism, and it is up to the individual to decide how best to worship God. The principle of reincarnation is the foundation of Hinduism, and their doctrine closely mirrors the Indian caste system. Almost all Hindus live in one country, India, but also in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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Judaism is an ethnic religion with more than 14 million adherents worldwide. There are 6 million Jews in Israel and 5 million in the United States. Two of the major popular religions, Christianity and Islam, find some of their roots in Judaism, recognizing Abraham as the Patriarch. Jews believe in a true God, and the Western Wall of the Old Temple in Jerusalem is one of their holiest sites. The three branches of Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed. Judaism is distributed throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the United States, Russia, and Europe.Popular world religion mapImage source: Wikimedia Commons

Religious spread

How did all religions get to where they are today? Religions spread over time through a process known as contagion. The map shown above shows where the identified religions are most prominent. There are two methods of diffusion: expansion and displacement. In extended contagion, the beliefs of a religion are transmitted by direct contact between believers and non-believers. This exposure causes the number of believers to increase over time either by direct contact between believers and non-believers (contagious contagion) or by conversion of non-believers by unbelievers. evangelism (hierarchical spread). Displacement spillover occurs when a group of believers moves to a new location, where they then spread the teachings of a religion that is not generally known or practiced in the area. So, let’s take a look at how universal and ethnic religion has spread across the globe.

Popularity of religions

The top three popular religions spread through extensive diffusion and resettlement. Every place has its own legend in Asia: Christianity in Israel, Islam in Saudi Arabia, and Buddhism in India. The fireplace is an area that develops a set of cultural features and concepts. Followers of each religion have migrated, preaching the religions’ messages to those far beyond the hearth. Christianity spread through the spread of resettled missionaries and hierarchical spread as the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion. Christianity became the dominant religion in North and South America because the first settlers and settlers from Europe were Christians. Islam spread mainly through contagion by military conquest into North Africa and Western Europe and through Arab traders traveling to Indonesia. Buddhism spread mainly through the spread of resettled missionaries and slowly spread outside the region of origin.

The spread of national religions

By its definition, ethnic religions are found near fireplaces but spread through displaced diffusion. Unlike popular religions, ethnic religions were not propagated mainly because of a lack of missionaries. In some cases, popularization of religions, such as Christianity and Islam, replaces national religions. Judaism was spread by the dispersion of Jews around the world after the Romans ravaged Jerusalem in AD 70.

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Popularity and Ethnic Religion in the AP® Human Geography Exam

The AP® Human Geography Course Description tells you that you must distinguish between ethnic religions and popular religions. In turn, the AP® Human Geography exam focuses on how religion impacts elements of the cultural landscape, so focus your studies on how aspects of religion affect how people interact with each other. Popularity and ethnic religion appeared on the multiple-choice portion of the AP® Human Geography exam. In 2006, there were three questions related to the spread of ethnic religions and the spread of religion, but that does not mean that they will be on the multiple choice sections in the future.


This research guide briefly compares popular and national religions, how they have spread over time and are present in regions of the world today. You can also see how each of those religions in the regions have developed and influenced each other. After reading this AP® Human Geography Smash Course, you’ll be more confident in this section of AP® Human Geography and prepare for the AP® Human Geography exam. Do you feel prepared for the AP® Human Geography exam on this topic? If you want to score well on the AP® Human Geography exam, you must read the Human Geography Study Guide a month. Read more: Sushi 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Japan’s Most Famous Food To help you make the best of this study guide for the exam. Maybe, here’s an example from Barron’s AP® Human Geography Practice Test.

  • ethnic
  • Universal
  • cartoon house
  • secular
  • tribe
  • A: BUniversalizing religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, all seek to convert new followers to their religion and are therefore universal (or universal) in their propagation.

    Let’s put things into practice. Try this AP® Human Geography practice question:

    Looking for more AP® Human Geography practice?

    Check out our other articles on AP Human Geography. You can also find thousands of practice questions on topqa.info. topqa.info allows you to customize your learning experience to target practice where you need help most. We’ll provide you with challenging practice questions to help you achieve proficiency in AP® Human Geography. Let’s start practicing here. here.Read more: What is the omen of September 13?

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