Impact of Globalization on Place

Impact of Globalization on Place

The world has been getting smaller for hundreds of years, but unprecedented changes in transportation, communications, and information technology have dramatically accelerated the pace of globalization.


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Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, Economics

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The world has seen major changes in transportation, communications, and information technology over the years. These changes have all been a part of something called globalization.

Put simply, globalization is the integration of activities of people and organizations around the world. The term is often used in an economic sense, referring to how much money and business is flowing into and out of an area or country. Globalization refers to the global scale on which businesses operate, and the exchange of goods and services between businesses, organizations, and countries. Globalization also refers to the social and political changes that occur as a result of this increased exchange among people and organizations around the world.

Advances in communication and technology have contributed to the rapid exchange of ideas. Smartphones provide an ongoing connection between immigrants and their families back home. Global news channels spread news about faraway events as they are still unfolding. The internet allows people all over the world to access the same information and entertainment.

Globalization and Place

When we are talking about place, we will define it as the physical and human characteristics of a city, country, region, or any other geographic area. Physical aspects of a place include things such as landforms, water flow, elevation and climate. Human characteristics involve the size of the population, population density, and culture. Population density is a measurement of the population relative to the size of the place. Effects on culture include changes to religion, language, clothing, and ways of life.

Globalization can affect the physical aspects of a place. For instance, increased trade may negatively affect the quality of air in certain places. The rapid spread of information and goods have dramatically affected cultures around the world.

Human Characteristics

Globalization is not a new concept. For thousands of years, people have traveled long distances, taking their trade and traditions with them and changing the places they visited. The Silk Road is an example of early globalization. For more than 1,500 years, Europeans traded glass and manufactured goods for Chinese silk and spices. This ancient network of trade routes used between Europe, Central Asia, East Africa, and the Far East contributed to a global economy in which both Europe and Asia became familiar with goods from far away.

The spread of religion can also change the characteristics of places. For example, European colonization of the Americas between the 16th and 18th centuries led to Roman Catholicism as the main religion in South America. Language, another defining characteristic of place, also changes with globalization. Today, an increasing number of people around the world speak English, which has become the language of global business.

The economies, or level of business activity, of many places have changed dramatically as a result of globalization. Globalization affects where and how people work and live. Globalization allows businesses to operate in areas where labor is cheaper. American companies might work with companies in India where labor is less expensive.

In some places, globalization has helped to create a middle class, narrow income inequality and provide new economic opportunities. Textiles have become a main export of Bangladesh, a country in South Asia. This has improved the economy in Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations of the world. But not everyone has benefited. While globalization can increase the standard of living in developing countries, it can negatively affect individual workers. Further, globalization has been criticized for the practice of labor exploitation in countries with little protection against such practices.

Globalization also brings about rapid and significant growth of cities and communities key to trade. Because of its role in global business, Shanghai, China, has grown to become the world's largest city. Shanghai's skyline is known for its skyscrapers, a visual reminder of the effect of globalization. The world's first skyscraper was built in Chicago, Illinois, United States, in the 1880s. However, as cities grew, skyscrapers became commonplace throughout the world, especially in large cities.

Globalization also has a profound effect on culture. Traditions, holidays, and popular culture now extend across national and ethnic boundaries. For example, more people celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States than in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday to celebrate the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, but it is not celebrated much outside of a particular region of Mexico and in the United States.

Other cultural changes might result from the impact of globalization on consumers. In general, globalization decreases the cost of making goods and the average cost of goods. The lower average cost of goods leads to increases in the standard of living.

Consumers also have access to a wider variety of goods. Now, people in London, England, can dine on Indian food, and Chinese restaurants can be found in almost any American town. Globalization has allowed many people to enjoy a more varied and healthier diet. However, globalization has also been blamed for increases in the availability of unhealthy food and diabetes in some places in the world.

Globalization contributes to a more uniform world perspective and culture. People around the world listen to the same music and watch the same television programs. From remote places to those at the forefront of globalization trends, globalization has forever changed the human characteristics of places.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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