What does Religion have to do with Human Geography?
Understanding religious differences is important to the field of human geography. So how do you as a geographer study religion? Geographers research and document the location of religions and use the results to explain why certain religions are widely distributed and why other religions are extremely concentrated. There are two types of religions for Human Geography studies: universalizing and ethnic religions. After you read this AP® Human Geography study guide, you will better understand the difference between universalizing and ethnic religions. We will also explore why it is important to understand and examine the implications of the origin, distribution, and diffusion of religions. This study guide will conclude with how universalizing and ethnic religions relate to the AP® Human Geography exam.
What is Religion?
Before we can understand the differences between universalizing and ethnic religions, we must first have a discussion on the definition of religion itself. You may not have sat down and thought about religion as a pure concept, but religion is a vital part of human culture, and it helps us celebrate and understand our place in the world. Religion is a common set of beliefs and practices through which people seek harmony with the power of the universe. It is also a communal way to relate a belief that centers on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object that is believed to be supernatural, sacred, or divine. Religion can impact how we interact with other people and our environment, which then shapes the development of a people’s cultural landscape.
Theistic Aspects of Religion
Now that we know the basic definition of religion and why it is important to us to study religion as part of the AP® Human Geography course, we will now explore the different types of religions based on several factors. One factor that distinguishes various religions is the number of gods that followers worship. In this regard, monotheism and polytheism are the two classifications of religion. Religions are monotheistic because they believe in one supreme being or god. In contrast to monotheism, polytheistic religions believe in more than one supreme or deity. Polytheistic religions practiced today include Hinduism and Shintoism. As geographers, we need to examine religions with an eye on universality and ethnicity. Origin and predominate location define ethnic and universalizing religions as well to help explain how the religion diffused over time.
First, let’s look at the definition of universalizing religion. Universalizing religions offer belief systems that are attractive to the universal population. They look for new members and welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to adopt their belief system. Universalizing religions have many diverse members, who come from different ethnic backgrounds, hence the term universal. Therefore, it is evident that universal religions consist of many different ethnic groups because they convert and accept anyone of any background and are usually not closely tied to one location.
Christianity is the largest universalizing religion, both in area and in number, with about two billion adherents. Founded on the teachings of Jesus, Christianity is monotheistic, believing that God is a Trinity and Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The three main branches of Christianity are Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. Roman Catholics are predominate in Southwest Europe and Latin America, Protestants in Northwest Europe and North America, and Orthodox in Eastern Europe. Eastern Orthodoxy is the largest single religious faith in Greece, Cyprus, and Russia.
Islam is the second largest universalizing religion with over 1.5 billion adherents. In Arabic, Islam means “submitting to the will of God”. Those who practice Islam are Muslims, 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 son, Hagar and Ishmael, not Sarah and Isaac like the Christians and Jews. Their leader and prophet is Muhammad. The two branches of Islam are Sunni and Shiite. The division between the Sunni and Shia originated in a disagreement over leadership after Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. 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 Buddhist belief is reincarnation. In this concept, people are reborn after dying. One can attain Nirvana if one releases their attachment to desire and self. Today, Buddhism is a majority faith in Southeast Asia, China, and Japan.
In contrast to universalizing religions, ethnic religions usually consist of beliefs, superstitions, and rituals handed down from generation to generation within an ethnicity and culture. It follows one’s ethnicity because the religion does not tend to convert. In some ways, ethnic religions act like a folk culture. It expands via relocation diffusion and often increases through birth rates. Ethnic religions relate closely to culture, ethnic heritage, and to the physical geography of a particular place. Ethnic religions do not attempt to appeal to all people, but only one group, maybe in one locale or within one ethnicity. Judaism and Hinduism are two prime examples of ethnic religions.
Hinduism is the largest ethnic religion and the world’s third largest religion 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 to 1500 BCE. Hinduism consists of many different religious groups evolved in India since 1500 BCE. Other religions are more centrally organized than Hinduism, and it is up to the individual to decide the best way to worship God. The principle of reincarnation is the cornerstone of Hinduism, and their doctrine closely mirrors India’s caste system. Almost all Hindus live in one country, India, but also are in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
Judaism is an ethnic religion that has more than 14 million followers worldwide. There are 6 million Jews in Israel and 5 million in the United States. Two of the main universalizing religions, Christianity and Islam, find some of their roots in Judaism, recognizing Abraham as a Patriarch. Jews believe in one true God, and the Western Wall of the old temple in Jerusalem is one of their most holy sites. The three branches of Judaism are Orthodox, Conservatives, and Reformed. Judaism is distributed throughout part of the Middle East and North Africa, the United States, Russia, and Europe.
How did all religions get to where they are today? Religions spread over time through a process called diffusion. The map shown above indicates where the identified religions are most prominent. There are two methods of diffusion: expansion and relocation. In expansion diffusion, beliefs of a religion transmit by direct contact between believers and nonbelievers. This contact causes the number of believers to increase over time either by direct contact between believers and nonbelievers (contagious diffusion) or by conversion of nonbelievers by missionaries (hierarchical diffusion). Relocation diffusion happens when a group of believers moves to a new location, where they then spread the teachings of a religion that are often not yet widely known or practiced in the region. So let’s look at how universalizing and ethnic religions have spread across the globe.
Diffusion of Universalizing Religions
The top three universalizing religions spread through expansion and relocation diffusion. Each has a hearth in Asia: Christianity in Israel, Islam in Saudi Arabia, and Buddhism in India. A hearth is an area where a set of cultural traits and concepts develop. Followers of each religion migrated, preaching the message of the religions to people far beyond the hearth. Christianity spread through relocation diffusion by missionaries and hierarchical diffusion when the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion. Christianity became the dominant religion in North and South America because of the early explorers and colonizers from Europe were Christians. Islam spread mostly through contagious diffusion by military conquest into North Africa and Western Europe and through Arab traders traveling to Indonesia. Buddhism spread primarily through relocation diffusion by missionaries and was slow to diffuse outside the area of origin.
Diffusion of Ethnic Religions
By its definition, ethnic religions are found near the hearth but spread through relocation diffusion. Unlike universalizing religions, ethnic religions haven’t spread primarily because of the lack of missionaries. In some cases, universalizing religions, like Christianity and Islam, replace ethnic religions. Judaism diffused by the scattering of Jews around the world after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Universalizing and Ethnic Religions in the AP® Human Geography Exam
The Course Description of the AP® Human Geography lets you know that you have to distinguish between ethnic and universalizing 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 a religion affect the way people interact with each other. Universalizing and ethnic religions have appeared in the multiple-choice section of the AP® Human Geography exam. In 2006, there were three questions relating to the diffusion of ethnic and universalizing religions, but that doesn’t mean they will be in future multiple-choice sections of the exam.
This study guide briefly compared universalizing and ethnic religions, how those religions have diffused over time, and are present in the areas of the world they are today. You can also see how each of those religions within the areas have evolved and impacted each other. After reading this AP® Human Geography Crash Course, you will be more confident on this section of AP® Human Geography and are prepared for the AP® Human Geography exam. Do you feel prepared for the AP® Human Geography exam on this topic? If you want to ace the AP® Human Geography exam, you have to read the One Month Human Geography Study Guide.
To help you apply this study guide to the exam as best as possible, here is an example from the Barron’s AP® Human Geography Practice Test.
When religions work to expand their membership by converting others to their belief systems, they are termed
Universalizing religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, all seek to convert new believers to their religions and are thereby global (or universal) in their spread.
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What are the differences between universalizing religions and ethnic religions? ›
Universalizing religions attempt to be global, to appeal to all people, wherever they may live in the world, not just to those of one culture or loca- tion. An ethnic religion appeals primarily to one group of people living in one place.What is universalizing religion in AP Human Geography? ›
Universalizing religions offer belief systems that are attractive to the universal population. They look for new members and welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to adopt their belief system. Universalizing religions have many diverse members, who come from different ethnic backgrounds, hence the term universal.What is an ethnic religion AP Human Geography? ›
Ethnic religion. A religion with a relatively concentrated spatial distribution whose principles are likely to be based on the physical characteristics of the particular location in which its adherents are concentrated. Fundamentalism.Is Christianity ethnic or universalizing? ›
Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universal religions, such as Christianity or Islam, in which gaining converts is a primary objective and, therefore, are not limited in ethnic, national or racial scope.What are Universalising religions? ›
In the study of human geography, a universalizing religion is a religion that attempts to operate on a global scale and to appeal to all people wherever they reside, compared to an ethnic religion which primarily attracts one group of people living in one place.What factors lead to the diffusion of universalizing and ethnic religions? ›
Explain what factors lead to the diffusion of universalizing and ethnic regions. Religions have distinct places of origin through which they are diffused to other locations through different processes. Practices and belief systems impacted how widespread the religion diffused.What is universalizing religion quizlet? ›
Universalizing Religions. A religion that attempts to appeal to all people, not just those living in a particular location.How do universalizing religions spread? ›
Overview of Universalizing Religions - Key takeaways
The three largest universalizing religions are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Universalizing religions can spread through religious expansion via conversion or through relocation diffusion.
Religion | PBS. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, with the gold Dome of the Rock sitting just behind. Three of the world's major religions -- the monotheist traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another.Which is not a universalizing religion? ›
Judaism is classified as an ethnic rather than a universalizing religion partly because...
Is Islam a universalizing or ethnic religion? ›
Islam is a universal religion sent for all of humanity. This is made abundantly clear when Allah Almighty says "We have sent you as a mercy for mankind."Is Buddhism an ethnic religion? ›
"Buddhists who come from Asia, their Buddhist identity is a big part of their cultural, or ethnic identity, and when a community organizes temples, for instance, usually those temples run along ethnic lines," he says.Which ethnic religion has the most followers? ›
|Chinese traditional religion||394 million||5%|
|Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories||300 million||3%|
Ethnic religions generally appeal to one group of people of a particular culture and region. Ethnic religions generally do not have founder and do not diffuse very far.How does religion affect ethnicity? ›
Religion is one of the ethnic "descriptors" — critical factors that may be observed to identify ethnicity. Religion is one of the factors that help define culture, and thus ethnicity. There are cultures in which the religious identity is a primary defining factor. In many cultures it does not matter.What are some examples of ethnic religions? ›
Judaism, Hinduism and Japanese Shintoism are ethnic religions. These are considered ethnic religions since they are connected to a certain place and group of people.What major religions are ethnic? ›
The largest ethnic religion is Hinduism. Judaism is another well-known ethnic religion. Through migration, both of these religions have become dispersed around much of the world, but they are closely tied to their own ethnic groups.Is Buddhism a monotheist? ›
That being said, The Buddha openly rejected the concept of a God or Gods — and he is not a God himself, just a man who became a teacher of this specific Buddhist doctrine. This means, that Buddhism is Atheistic — neither Monotheistic nor Polytheistic.What is the oldest universalizing religion? ›
Buddhism. oldest universalizing religion with 300 million adherents. Founded by Siddartha Gautama, teaches atttachment from material world.What influences religious diffusion? ›
Many factors influence the diffusion of religion, but three main ones are political support, methods used in the process of conversion, and acceptance or resistance among unconverted people in areas a religion is diffusing to.
Why is Christianity a universalizing religion? ›
Universalizing/Ethnic Religions & Languages [AP Human Geography ...What are the characteristics of universalizing religions quizlet? ›
Universalizing religions attempt to be global, appeal to all people rather than just a group of people while an ethnic religion appeals primarily to one group of people living in one place.Which of the following pairs are ethnic religions? ›
What pair are both considered ethnic religions? Hinduism and Judaism.How does religion affect the cultural landscape? ›
Religion leaves an imprint on landscape, through culture and lifestyle. Religious structures - such as places of worship, and other sacred sites - dominate many landscapes. Religious traditions - Hindu ritual bathing in the Ganges, for example - leave their mark on the physical appearance of an area.Which of the following best explains why a universalizing religion would diffuse into a region? ›
Which of the following best explains why a universalizing religion would diffuse into a region? The region has a large population where many people already follow another universalizing religion.How was Christianity spread? ›
Beginning with the son of a Jewish carpenter, the religion was spread around the world first by Jesus's disciples, then by emperors, kings, and missionaries. Through crusades, conquests, and simple word of mouth, Christianity has had a profound influence on the last 2,000 years of world history.Which world religion is the most widely diffused? ›
Over the centuries, Christianity grew in numbers as it spread around the world, often through missionaries and colonizers. The second most widely practiced religion is Islam, with an estimated 1.8 billion followers worldwide.What is the most widely practiced religion in the world quizlet? ›
- Christianity is by far the most widely practiced religion in the Western Hemisphere.Which religion has the most followers worldwide quizlet? ›
Christianity is the world's biggest religion, with about 2.2 billion followers worldwide.What are the 12 major religions of the world in order? ›
The world's faithful account for 83% of the global population; the great majority of these fall under twelve classical religions--Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.
Which of the following are the three largest universalizing religions quizlet? ›
The three universalizing religions with the largest numbers of adherents are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Hinduism is the ethnic religion with the largest number of adherents.Is Taoism universalizing or ethnic? ›
Taoism is an ethnic religion, however, it can be said that it is a mixture of both ethnic and universalizing due to the spread of the religion to other parts of the world.Is Sikhism an ethnic religion? ›
"Sikh" properly refers to adherents of Sikhism as a religion, strictly not an ethnic group. However, because Sikhism has seldom sought converts, most Sikhs share strong ethno-religious ties as therefore it's a common stereotype that all Sikhs share the same ethnicity.Is Judaism an ethnicity or a religion Brainly? ›
It's a religion, yes — but then again, many who identify as Jews aren't religious. It's passed down from parents to children and bears recognizable genetic characteristics — but then again, Jews come in all colors and racial backgrounds.What makes an ethnic group? ›
ethnic group, a social group or category of the population that, in a larger society, is set apart and bound together by common ties of race, language, nationality, or culture.Why Islam is called universal religion? ›
Islam is a universal faith for all times, all places, and all peoples. It is predicated on the belief that there is but one God, Allah, the Creator of the universe and of humankind.What do you call a religion without God? ›
Generally atheism is a denial of God or of the gods, and if religion is defined in terms of belief in spiritual beings, then atheism is the rejection of all religious belief.Is Judaism an ethno religion? ›
Judaism is a religion, but according to this definition Jews are also an ethnic group. Among the Arabs as ethnic group, there are people from several religions, mainly Muslims, Christians and Druze. Accordingly, we can consider Muslims, Christians and Jews as ethno-religious groups.What is an empire and what were empires common characteristics during the classical era? ›
What is an "empire", and what ere empires' common characteristics during the Classical Era? An empire is a large area of land ruled by an emperor or a form of administration. Common characteristics were powerful military, good economics, and great administrative systems.Who is the No 1 beautiful religion in the world? ›
According to Pew Research Center, Hindus are the second wealthiest and the most educated religious group in the United States. This is one of the reasons why scholars consider Hinduism the most beautiful religion in the world.
What religion spread the fastest? ›
Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world.Is Christianity a universalizing religion? ›
The three main universalizing religions are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Each of the three is divided into branches, denominations, and sects.What is the difference between an ethnic universal or a traditional religion? ›
Universalizing religions attempt to be global, to appeal to all people. An ethnic religion appeals primarily to one group of people living in one place.What are the 4 universalizing religions? ›
Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam are the three major universalizing or global religions. Each is divided into branches, denominations, and sects. A branch is a fundamental division within a religion.What is universal religion? ›
Universal religion is usually taken to refer to the concept of a single world religion. Sometimes, how- ever, it is used to refer to the collective religious inheritance of humanity. The implications of the first sense may be examined first.Does ethnicity include religion? ›
Ethnic group is also very diverse, encompassing common ancestry and elements of culture, identity, religion, language and physical appearance.What's the difference between race and religion? ›
On a superficial level, most popular definitions of race and religion define them as opposites— race is seen as being on the outside (about skin colour) whilst religion is inter- nal (a matter of belief or faith). Race is seen as biological and inherited, and religion is fundamentally seen as a matter of choice.Which of the following is an ethnic religion? ›
Judaism, Hinduism and Japanese Shintoism are ethnic religions. These are considered ethnic religions since they are connected to a certain place and group of people.What is the world's largest ethnic religion? ›
The largest ethnic religion is Hinduism. Judaism is another well-known ethnic religion. Through migration, both of these religions have become dispersed around much of the world, but they are closely tied to their own ethnic groups. Universalizing religions seek to convert others.What is the difference between monotheistic and polytheistic religions? ›
Monotheism is a term for a belief system based on the belief in a single deity. Religions that are considered examples of monotheism include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Polytheism is a term for a belief system based on the belief in multiple deities.
Which is not a universalizing religion? ›
Judaism is classified as an ethnic rather than a universalizing religion partly because...What is the oldest universalizing religion? ›
Buddhism is the oldest of the world's universalizing religions, with millions of adherents clus- tered in East and Southeast Asia. Founded by Siddhartha Gautama in the sixth century B.C., Buddhism teaches that suffering originates from our attachment to life and other worldly possessions.What are the three largest universalizing religions in the world today? ›
Religion | PBS. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, with the gold Dome of the Rock sitting just behind. Three of the world's major religions -- the monotheist traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another.Which ethnic religion has the most followers? ›
|Chinese traditional religion||394 million||5%|
|Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories||300 million||3%|
Buddhism, the third of the world's major universalizing religions, has 350 million adherents, especially in China and Southeast Asia. Like the other two universalizing religions, Buddhism split into more than one branch.How many religion do we have in the world? ›
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. About 84% of the world's population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or some form of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics.How many religions exist? ›
It may surprise you to know that there are over 4,000 recognized religions in the world. These religions consist of churches, congregations, faith groups, tribes, cultures, and movements.How many God do we have? ›
There is one God in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. All three are separate, distinct and possessing specific roles while at the same time one God.What do you call a person who believes in all religions? ›
Definition of omnist
: one that believes in all religions.
Religion and Social Control
It was a religion that perpetuated social inequality by reinforcing the interests of those in a position of power. Religion, therefore, was a system for the rich to keep getting richer and the poor to remain forever poor, according to Karl Marx.
Do ethnic religions have a founder? ›
Ethnic religions generally appeal to one group of people of a particular culture and region. Ethnic religions generally do not have founder and do not diffuse very far.Which of the following are the three largest universalizing religions quizlet? ›
The three universalizing religions with the largest numbers of adherents are Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Hinduism is the ethnic religion with the largest number of adherents.Which religion has the smallest number of adherents? ›
|Jerusalem is a city that is sacred for these religions||Chritstianity, Judaism, and Islam|
|Of the three main universalizing religions, which one has the smallest adherents||Buddhism|
|What four religions are important in India?||Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism|