Geography (Cycle One)

Print section

Urban territory

Heritage cities

Urbanization is an increasingly important phenomenon in the world. More than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. The study of different urban territories allows students to become aware of the various social and environmental problems created by urbanization. Three urban territories are studied in Secondary Cycle One: metropolises, cities subject to natural hazards and heritage cities.

B.  Cities subject to natural hazards

A city subject to natural hazards should be organized to ensure the safety of the population. Certain measures should be taken to limit damage resulting from natural disasters. In some parts of the world, such measures are not taken. Issues arise, such as how to deal with a natural hazard and how to ensure economic development to mitigate the consequences of a natural disaster.

The study of one of the three cities suggested in the program is compulsory. Teachers may choose from among the following: Manila, Quito and San Francisco. Cycle teams may determine in which year the city will be studied.

The concepts prescribed by the program are not described using specific statements. It is by using all of the knowledge related to a territory that students develop their understanding of the following concepts: planning and development, suburb, concentration, density, environment, urban sprawl, instability, level of development, prevention, natural hazard and urbanization.


Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.

1 or 2
  1. Location of a city subject to natural hazards
    1. Locates the city studied in the appropriate continent and country
    1. Locates cities subject to natural hazards on a map of the world (e.g. Honolulu, Manila, Naples, Phuket, Port-au-Prince, Quito, San Francisco, Tokyo)
  1. Characteristics of a city subject to natural hazards
    1. Indicates the type(s) of natural hazards to which the city studied is subject (e.g. San Francisco: earthquakes; Quito: eruption of the Pichincha Volcano and earthquakes)
    1. Indicates the relationship between the location of the city studied and the hazard(s) to which it is subject (e.g. San Francisco is built along a series of fault lines, the best known being the San Andreas Fault; Manila is located on an island in a volcanic archipelago and is exposed to several natural hazards: typhoons that cause floods and landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis)
    1. Explains why the population is attracted to the city studied despite the instability associated with the hazards (e.g. the fertile volcanic soils of the valley of the Andes attract the population around Quito; the Mediterranean climate and quality of life in California attract people to San Francisco)
    1. Establishes the level of development of the country in which the city studied is located (e.g. San Francisco is located in a developed country)
    1. Establishes the size of the population of the city studied as a proportion of the population of the country (e.g. in 2008, Manila accounts for 14% of the population of the Philippines; San Francisco Bay accounts for 20% of the population of California)
  1. Planning and development of a city subject to natural hazards
    1. Indicates means used to protect the residents from natural hazards in the city studied (e.g. earthquake-resistant buildings in San Francisco; stilt houses and dikes to prevent mudslides in Manila)
    1. Explains the location of neighbourhoods in the city studied in terms of their exposure to natural hazards (e.g. in Quito, the financial district and affluent neighbourhoods are located north of the valley, far from the Pichincha Volcano; low-income neighbourhoods and slums are located on the slopes of the volcano where land is cheaper and the risk of landslides caused by erosion and mudslides or lahars is greater)
    1. Indicates safety measures that the city studied can take to deal with a disaster (e.g. in San Francisco, officials have prepared evacuation plans and planned disaster shelters for displaced residents)
  1. Issues affecting a city or cities subject to natural hazards
    1. Indicates preventive measures taken to deal with hazards (e.g. designing systems to detect earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones and tsunamis)
    1. Indicates consequences of a natural disaster for the city studied (e.g. in 1989, part of the Bay Bridge collapsed in San Francisco, killing 42 people; the earthquake caused numerous gas leaks and fires in dozens of buildings)
    1. Explains the relationship between urbanization and the consequences of natural disasters for city populations (e.g. the more densely populated an area is, the greater the number of people affected by a natural disaster)
    1. Explains the relationship between the level of economic development of the country where the city is located and its ability to protect residents from hazards (e.g. cities in developing countries lack resources; few measures are therefore taken to deal with natural disasters, which is less likely to be the case in developed countries)

Heritage cities

Haut de page