Geography (Cycle One)

Print section

Urban territory

Cities subject to natural hazards

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.

C.  Heritage cities

Heritage cities seek to protect sites of cultural or historical interest. Some cities request recognition from UNESCO as part of the world’s heritage. The aim of such recognition is to preserve the world’s cultural diversity. However, protecting these heritage sites presents special organizational challenges for cities: how to preserve heritage in an expanding city and work with the specific features of a site.

Two of the five heritage cities suggested in the program must be studied. The first, the walled city of Québec, is compulsory. Teachers may choose the second from among the following: Athens, Paris, Rome and Beijing. Cycle teams may determine in which year a heritage city will be studied; it is recommended, however, that the content be spread out over the two years of the cycle.

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, change, concentration, conservation/preservation, continuity, density, urban sprawl, heritage, restoration, site and urbanization.


Student constructs knowledge with teacher guidance.

Student applies knowledge by the end of the school year.


Student reinvests knowledge.

1 2
  1. Location of a heritage city
    1. Locates the heritage city studied in the appropriate continent and country
    1. Locates, on a map of the world, heritage cities recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (e.g. Algiers, Athens, Beijing, Brasilia, Cologne, Istanbul, Havana, Reims, Venice, Zabid)
  1. Characteristics of a heritage city
    1. Indicates selection criteria used to recognize world heritage sites (e.g. a site must bear exceptional testimony to an existing or former civilization)
    1. Indicates what characterizes the cities that are part of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) (e.g. Québec City, Paris and Rome are part of OWHC because the heritage sites are inhabited; Beijing and Athens are not because the heritage sites are not)
    1. Names organizations that recognize the value of a heritage site in a city (e.g. UNESCO at a global level; Commission des biens culturels in Québec)
    1. Describes the heritage site in the city studied (e.g. in Beijing, the site is not inhabited; it includes three sets of buildings: the Forbidden City and the Temple of the Sky in the centre of the city and the Summer Palace outside the city)
    1. Names elements recognized for their heritage value in the city studied (e.g. the Ursuline Chapel and the ramparts of the walled city of Québec; the Acropolis in Athens)
    1. Names cities of the world deemed to have heritage character (e.g. Agra, Brasilia, Bruges, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Prague, Timbuktu)
  1. Planning and development of a heritage city
    1. Indicates development constraints that the heritage city studied must deal with (e.g. use of small buses in order not to widen the streets inside the walled city of Québec)
    1. Indicates infrastructure put in place to facilitate access to the heritage site in the city studied (e.g. parking, pedestrian streets, access roads in Paris; adequate number of tourist information centres to guide visitors in Rome)
    1. Indicates measures taken to meet the needs of the residents of the heritage city studied (e.g. creation of parking areas outside the heritage site to limit buses inside the walled city of Québec)
  1. Issues affecting a heritage city or cities
    1. Indicates actions to take to ensure the protection of heritage cities (e.g. limiting the number of vehicles around the heritage site to protect monuments from pollution; building underground parking lots; providing electric bus service; changing the function of certain buildings)
    1. Indicates constraints that the heritage city studied must deal with (e.g. in Québec City, ensuring the peace and tranquility of residents, restoring old buildings in keeping with their style and period)
    1. Lists actions that contribute to the degradation of the heritage site of the city studied (e.g. graffiti on monuments in Paris; stealing stones in Rome or Athens)
    1. Explains disadvantages of having a large influx of tourists in the heritage city studied (e.g. vehicles create congestion in the narrow streets and cause transportation problems for residents in the walled city of Québec)
    1. Indicates constraints imposed by UNESCO on heritage cities (e.g. obligation to conduct an archaeological investigation prior to building on a site; preserving the historical character of the city when transforming or constructing buildings)
    1. Indicates limits of heritage protection by UNESCO (e.g. the fact that a city is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List attracts worldwide attention but does not guarantee that all the necessary measures will be taken to protect the heritage value of the site)

Cities subject to natural hazards

Haut de page