A neighborhood is an area where people live and interact with one another.


9 - 12


Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

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A neighborhood is an area where people live and interact with one another. Neighborhoods tend to have their own identity, or "feel" based on the people who live there and the places nearby. Residents may have similar types of families, incomes, and education levels. Neighborhoods can include restaurants, bookstores, and parks.

Neighborhoods often have fuzzy geographical boundaries, so sometimes it's difficult to tell where one starts and another ends. Major streets often act as logical boundaries, but people usually define a neighborhood by its characteristics.

Neighborhoods are usually mentioned in terms of big cities, but suburban or rural areas also have neighborhoods. Suburban neighborhoods tend to have larger homes and more families than urban neighborhoods. Neighborhood residents generally have similar incomes, as well as similar social characteristics such as education level, housing preference, and sense of public order.

Sometimes, the dominant ethnicity in a neighborhood defines its character. People, especially recent immigrants to a new country, will often cluster near others with the same cultural heritage. In the United States, you can find them in neighborhoods such as Little Italy and Chinatown, names shared by neighborhoods in several cities. Harlem is a predominantly African American neighborhood in New York City, New York. In Los Angeles, California, Chinatown is joined by Little Saigon, which includes immigrants from Vietnam. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Little Mogadishu neighborhood is defined by immigrants from Somalia.

When people band together in this way, it strengthens their sense of community and preserves cultural traditions. Residents benefit from nearby relatives and a common language, as well as stores and services geared to their needs. They are close to institutions important to them, such as churches and clubs. Unlike neighborhoods, ghettos and barrios have historically been areas where ethnic groups were forced to live.

In China, a nation of more than one billion people, a neighborhood is a government district. Neighborhood leaders, like city and state leaders, are responsible for the order and management of the area.

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Hilary Costa
Erin Sprout
Santani Teng
Melissa McDaniel
Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau
Tara Ramroop
Kim Rutledge
Hilary Hall
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
Tim Gunther
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 27, 2023

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