004 - The Physical Environment

Geographic Knowledge and Understanding

The influence of the physical environment on global interactions:

natural resource availability

the potentially limiting effect of geographic isolation, at varying scales


The physical environment has power upon the processes of global interactions.


Key Terminology

Define the words above using the 'Useful Links' below.

Useful Links

Activity One - Natural Resources

You now know that we are living in a time in which we are the most connected with each other. Whether we connect via the internet, travel, consumerism or by what we watch on TV. But that does not mean that all countries are as connected as we and some attempt to use their natural resources availability to become connected. While this syllabus point does not ask or you to explore how the natural resource availability influences global interactions by using a specific case study we are going to look at through examples of place.  For each of the countries below you need to focus on the following points:

Useful Resources

Pages 37- 38  ' Geography Global Interactions. Study and Revision Guide. HL Core Extension' by Simon Oakes


You all know I like a bit of sparkle but how does my desire to wear diamond earrings connect Botswana with the rest of the world?


You have already looked at (or will look at)  how uranium is extracted in an extreme environment such as Niger. You are now going to use that knowledge to explain how Niger has utilised their natural resource to be come more connected. 

United Arab Emirates

You have explored this nation in relation to climate change and extreme environments (or you will do) so you hopefully have some knowledge of this country already. Watch the youtube clip and make notes on the two bullet points above.

Activity Two - Isolation

We have already discussed the concept of isolated areas when we explored Extreme Environments but lets remind ourselves of what that actually means. Areas can be perceived as isolated if they are physically inaccessibly - polar regions, mountainous or tropical areas for example. But this can be extended to landlocked countries as ports have been critical in the past in developing a country's ability to trade.  We are going to focus on landlocked countries as well as island nations (which are situated in geographically isolated areas such as in the South Atlantic Ocean).

Remote Island Nations

Remote islands are often classified as areas that are take a large amount of time to travel to by plane or by boat. Some are fortunate to be beneath a major flight path that connect continents which has allowed them to become more connected. We are going to focus on Iceland and St Helena.

Useful Resources

Page 38  ' Geography Global Interactions. Study and Revision Guide. HL Core Extension' by Simon Oakes


Iceland is a geographically stunning country and you don't have to be a geographer to appreciate its rugged and quite frankly dangerous landscape.  As someone who has visited Iceland and very much enjoyed my holiday there I am not sure if I could cope with the bleak, dark, cold winters.  So what is life really like on this island? What has caused this island to become connected with the rest of the world? Watch the youtube clip below and write down the reasons why people visit Iceland and what has allowed it to become connected.

St. Helena

This is a tiny British colony located in the South Atlantic Ocean. Unlike Iceland you may not have thought about visiting the island purely because it is quite far away from Europe. It has more recently built an airport to try and garner an increase in tourism but it hasn't quite worked that way. Watch the youtube clip, describe what has happened on St. Helena to allow it to be more connected with the rest of the world and explain why the expensive risk has failed.

Landlocked Countries

As the name suggests these are countries that are surrounded by other countries and are therefore reliant on trade deals with their neighbours to import or export goods. Generally the worlds landlocked countries are the poorest in the world but they do not have to be. We are going to focus on Nepal and Switzerland to uncover what helps and hinders these global connections.


Nepal is located in the Himalayan Mountains and is sandwiched in between India, Tibet and China making it one of the most isolated areas in the world. Watch the youtube clip below and write down the geographic challenges that Nepal faces.


Switzerland is famous as the land of chocolate, cheese and watches but these are all commodities that need to be transported through its neighbouring countries to reach its global market. Switzerland is also a major financial hub and numerous TNCs have their European headquarters located in this country. Why has Switzerland become so much more successful than most other landlocked countries?

Exam Style Question

“The physical environment has a greater influence than political and technological processes upon global interactions.”Discuss this statement. [16 Marks]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com