If you’re an IB Geography SL/HL students in search of some extra FREE help, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you're looking for IB Geography notes for a test on a single topic or cramming for the final IB Geography papers, this guide has all the information you need.
I created this IB Geography study guide using the best FREE online materials for IB Geography and ordered the materials following the IB Geography SL/HL syllabus.
How To Use This Article
If you want to study a specific topic, use the Command + F function on your keyboard to search this article for specific IB Geography notes. For example, if you hope to read about Population change, use Command + F to bring up the search function. Type in “Population change” and it will bring up all of the study materials for Population change.
I separate the resources into:
- Quick reference: a short summary of a specific sub-topic within a larger topic if you need to learn more about a very specific topic such as “gender and change.”
- Notes with supporting videos: notes (generally 2-4 pages) if you want a summary of each overall topic with video explanations.
- Case studies: case studies for each topic to help you better understand that topic using specific real world examples.
If you’re looking for summary material to help you study for the IB Geography papers, check out the notes with supporting video for each topic. These notes are brief and great for a quick refresher.
How To Use This Guide Throughout the School Year
Use this guide throughout the school year as a review for in-class quizzes if you need more help learning the material. You need to be mastering the topics throughout the school year and not just waiting to cram before the IB Geography papers.
The Best Study Practices for IB Geography
Make sure you’re practicing related IB Geography past paper questions as you learn each new subject. You can find free IB Geography HL and IB Geography SL past papers here. Also, if you’re having difficulty understanding your in-class lesson, you should be reviewing the corresponding chapter in a textbook or this study guide.
Common Study Mistakes IB Geography Students Make
For IB Geography, there are lots of topics to master, so you can’t fall behind. Common mistakes students make are:
- Trying to avoid the material you didn't learn in class. If you didn’t understand it in class, you need to find more help whether through this article or tutoring.
- Only studying a week or two before the IB Geography papers. You will not be able to master all of the topics below in only a week or two (that is why the course is spread out over 1 to 2 years). Make sure you are learning the topics as they’re taught to you in class. Use this article for additional support learning the topics:
Part #1: Core Theme - Patterns and Changes - 70 hours for SL and HL
There are four required topics of study in this part:
Topics #1: Population in Transition
Topics #2: Disparities in Wealth and Development
Topics #3: Patterns in Environmental Quality and Sustainability
Topics #4: Patterns in Resource Consumption
Part #2: Optional Themes - 60 hours for SL and 90 hours for HL
HL students study three of the options below. SL students study two options. The options are:
Option A. Freshwater - Issues and Conflicts
- Notes with supporting videos: Covering units 1.1-1.4
- Quick Reference:
- Case Studies:
- Floods - Rio de Janerio 2011, Brazil: Floods
- Floods - Bangladesh and Boscastle, UK: IGCSE Rivers and GCSE Rivers
- Dams - Aswan Dam, Egypt: Dams and Reservoirs
- Dams - Three Gorges Dam, China: Changing patterns of energy consumption
- Floodplain managements - River Conwy, Wales: Floodplain management
- Wetland management - Kissimmee River, US: Freshwater wetland management
- Irrigation and salinisation - The Aral Sea: Irrigation and agriculture
- Eutrophication (agricultural and industrial pollution) - Lake Dianchi, China: Water and change
- Eutrophication (agricultural and industrial pollution) - Lake Biwa, Japan: Irrigation and agriculture
- Groundwater pollution - Hinkley, US: Irrigation and agriculture
- Irrigation - Libya: Irrigation and agriculture
- Conflict within a drainage basin - Jordan River (Israel and Palestine): Conflicts at the local or national scale
- Conflict within a drainage basin - Loa River Basin, Chile: Conflicts at the local or national scale
- Conflict at an international scale - River Nile: Conflicts at the international scale
Option B. Oceans and their Coastal Margins
Option C. Extreme Environments
Option D. Hazards and Disasters - Risk Assessment and Response
- Notes with supporting videos: Covering units D.1-D.5
- Quick Reference:
- Case Studies:
- Human induced hazard - Chernobyl, Ukraine: Human-induced Hazard
- Living near hazards - Tourism (Mount Arenal, Costa Rica): Vulnerable Populations
- Living near hazards - Geothermal power (Iceland): Vulnerable Populations
- Living near hazards - Shortage of space/inertia (El Boqueron, El Salvador): Vulnerable Populations
- Living near hazards - Beauty (Mount St. Helens, US): Vulnerable Populations
- Hazard prediction - Sukurajima Volcano, Japan: Hazard event prediction
- Hazard prediction - Hurricane Katrina, US: Hazard event prediction
- Earthquake - Haiti earthquake: Measuring Disasters
- Floods - Rio de Janerio 2011, Brazil: Floods
- Floods - Bangladesh and Boscastle, UK: IGCSE Rivers and GCSE Rivers
- Volcano - Mount St. Helens, US: Earthquakes and Volcanoes
- Drought - East Africa 2011: Droughts
- Earthquakes - Kobe, Japan and Afghanistan: IGCSE Plate Tectonics and GCSE Plate Tectonics
- Manmade hazard - Wildfires, Australia: Measuring Disasters
- Hurricane/typhoon/cyclone - Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Nargis: Measuring Disasters
- Before a hazard - Comparison of Haiti, Italy and Sichuan earthquakes: Before the event
- Responses to a hazard - Indian Ocean tsunami: Short‑term, mid‑term and long‑term responses after the event
- Responses to a hazard - Haiti earthquake: Short‑term, mid‑term and long‑term responses after the event
- Responses to a hazard - Gujurat 2001 earthquake, India: Short‑term, mid‑term and long‑term responses after the event
Option E. Leisure, Sport and Tourism
Option F. The Geography of Food and Health
Option G. Urban Environment
Part #3: HL Extension - Global Interactions - 60 hours for HL only
HL students must study the 7 topics below:
- Longer notes with supporting videos: Covering all 7 HL topics.
- Case Studies covering all 7 topics:
- International organisations and forums - G20, OECD, World Economic Forum: Global core and periphery
- Transportation - Air travel in the UAE: Time–space convergence and the reduction in the friction of distance
- Transportation - Containerisation (Panama Canal and the 'Box'): Time–space convergence and the reduction in the friction of distance
- IT connectivity - China and UK compared: Extension and density of networks
- International organisations - IMF, World Bank and WTO: Financial flows
- Economic migration - Poland - UK: Labour flows
- Economic migration - UAE: Movement responses - Migration
- Outsourcing - Bangalore, India: Information flows
- Environmental damage caused by a raw material - Palm oil (Malaysia and Indonesia): Degradation through raw material production
- Environmental damage by TNC - Bhopal, India (Union Carbide): The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- Industrial pollution - Minimata, Japan: The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- Industrial pollution - BP OIl Spill: The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- E-waste - China: The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- Mining pollution - Sidoarjo, Indonesia: The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- Nuclear pollution - Chernobyl, Ukraine: Human-induced Hazard
- Pollution poor neighbourhood in MEDC - TS2 postcode, UK: The effects of transnational manufacturing and services
- Transboundary pollution - Acid rain: Transboundary pollution
- Transboundary pollution - Chernobyl, Ukraine: Transboundary pollution
- Transboundary river pollution - Hungary sludge (River Danube) and Songhua River, China: Transboundary pollution
- Environmental NGOs - Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth: Transboundary pollution
- Homogenisation of landscape - UAE: Homogenization of landscapes
- Cultural diffusion/dilution - Bhutan: Cultural diffusion - the process
- Growth of branded commodities - Coca-Cola and McDonald's: Consumerism and culture
- Diaspora - The Irish: sociocultural integration
- Impacts of globalisation on an indigenous group - The Dani, Indonesia: sociocultural integration
- Loss of political sovereignty - The EU: Loss of sovereignty
- Responses to globalisation - Secularisation in France: Responses
- Responses to globalisation: Nationalism in Europe/UK: Responses
- Responses to globalisation: Emiratisation in the UAE: Responses
- Responses to globalisation: Migration controls in Arizona, US: Responses
- Glocalisation - Quick, France and McDonald's: Defining glocalization
- Local responses to globalisation - BigBarn, Eat The Seasons: Local responses to globalization
- Anti-globalisation movements - People's Global Action and Focus on the Global South Group: Local responses to globalization
- Alternatives to globalisation - The Amish: Alternatives
- Alternatives to globalisation - Uncontacted Tribes: Alternatives
- Alternatives to globalisation - Fairtrade: Alternatives
- Alternatives to globalisation - The Grameen Bank: Alternatives
Topics #1: Measuring Global Interactions
Topics #2: Changing Space - The Shrinking World
Topics #3: Economic Interactions and Flows
Topics #4: Environmental Change
Topics #5: Sociocultural Exchanges
Topics #6: Political Outcomes
Topics #7: Global Interactions at the Local Level
Learn more about IB Geography:
Learn more about other IB Classes:
Want to improve your SAT score by 240 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Nowadays, maybe more than ever, there is a need for managing sustainable tourism development, and this cannot be attained without taking into account environmental problems and their global dimension. There are many problems and needs of society and of the development of urban areas that may be solved by transforming the cities into attractive tourist destinations. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore how sustainable tourism development in urban areas can practically be achieved and managed.
Sustainable development is a multidimensional concept, which is related to the environment and resources as well as to the population and industrial and agricultural production . A sustainable behavior of consumption is the key element of long-term development  (p. 143). Therefore, achieving sustainable development implies solutions aiming at the same time at the social, political, economic, demographic, and technical fields . Sustainable development may be achieved if it relies on the harmony between economic progress and the boundaries of nature, particularly between the quantity and the regeneration time of natural sources, human-made emissions, and the neutralization capabilities of nature .
Therefore, to be more specific, the focus and purpose of this study is to identify the main success factors for managing sustainable tourism development in urban areas, based on a literature review and on a case study regarding Bucharest as a tourist destination. The research was conducted using evidence provided by conceptual papers, research papers, and literature reviews, as well as books and internet sources. In order to answer the research question, we have first revealed some modern approaches in defining sustainable tourism. Secondly, the study disclosed some success factors for managing sustainable tourism development in urban areas. Thirdly, we have emphasized a case study regarding Bucharest, the capital of Romania, as a tourist destination with an eye to identify the main ways of developing sustainable tourism in Bucharest based upon empirical research conducted with the aid of a survey. In order to answer the research question, we have analyzed the published sources, and we have evaluated and interpreted the empirical data collected through the questionnaire created.
The contribution this paper will make to the literature and practice derives from the logical connections of the arguments and counter-arguments for identifying the success factors for managing sustainable tourism development in urban areas, as well as from the possibility of using the findings in comparative urban studies or in order to conceive a strategy for developing Bucharest as a sustainable tourist destination.
2. Modern Approaches in Defining Sustainable Tourism
There are many approaches and ways of defining the concept of sustainable tourism that can be found in the literature, and many of them start the inquiry by making a transition from the concepts of sustainability or sustainable development. The abundance of definitions, meanings, and implications will be further reviewed in order to reveal the essence of the sustainable tourism concept.
Sustainable development may be defined as an all-embracing concept which involves all aspects of human activity and in which all the nations of the world should be involved in Zaharia et al.  (p. 159). Moreover, it is seen as one of the major challenges of modern evolution. In order to achieve sustainable development, there is a need to identify the main causes of environmental degradation firstly, to assess its size secondly, to find reasonable solutions to counteract it thirdly, and to reduce its negative impacts on economic and social life fourthly  (p. 99).
As Rifkin  asserts, a significant impact into the 21st century will be the Third Industrial Revolution, which will radically change all facets of working and living. The social, economic, and political life of the previous industrial revolutions based on fossil fuels was characterized by a conventional top-down organization of society. However, this type of organization is rapidly changing, and new distributed and collaborative relations emerge as a foundation of the green industrial era .
The concept of sustainable tourism emerged in the early 1990s, by connecting sustainable development ideas and principles with tourism. This new concept, at that time, was quickly accepted and promoted by many international and national organizations. For instance, the International Union for Nature Conservation, World Federation for Nature Protection, and the European Federation of National and Natural Parks defined sustainable tourism in 1991 as development, marketing, and management of all forms/types of tourism taking into account the natural, social, and economic environment and preserving the natural and cultural resources for future generations [7,8]. From this definition it follows that tourism (ecotourism, green tourism, rural tourism, business tourism, urban tourism, etc.) should be based on the principles of sustainable development  (p. 250). Currently, there is a strengthening of political concerns for nature conservation due to the aggravation of environmental problems and due to the acknowledgment of the importance of maintaining the quality of the environment for future generations  (p. 100).
According to the World Tourism Organization, the development of sustainable tourism responds to the present needs of tourists and to those of the host regions, and also protects and increases future chances and opportunities. Through sustainable tourism, all resources can be managed so as to satisfy needs and to maintain cultural integrity, biological diversity, ecological dimensions, and the life system . Accordingly, sustainable tourism can be defined as a form of tourism that takes into account present and future impacts (economic impact, social impact, and environmental impact), and responds to the various needs of tourists, industry, and local communities, as well as the environment  (p. 85).
Tourism sustainability is a complex concept because it has a latent, relative, and multidimensional nature  (p. 277). The multidimensional nature of tourism sustainability is based on three distinct sustainability dimensions: environmental, social, and economic sustainability  (pp. 5–6). As a result, sustainable tourism must undertake the environmental, social, and economic principles of sustainability (Figure 1)  (p. 3). This way the synergy effect is produced at the level of tourism sustainability. As a general rule, synergy means that certain features occur within the whole system without occurring in any of the subsystems  (p. 68).
Figure 1. Principles of sustainable tourism. Source: Adapted from White et al.  (p. 4).
Figure 1. Principles of sustainable tourism. Source: Adapted from White et al.  (p. 4).
Sustainable tourism covers all types/forms of tourism: conventional mass tourism, cultural tourism, mountain tourism, seaside tourism, spa tourism, business tourism, medical tourism, rural tourism, urban tourism, etc. Regardless of the type or tourism activities, they should take on the principles of sustainable tourism: (1) the local community should initiate the tourism activity by its own means, maintaining control over tourism development in the area; (2) tourism should provide jobs to the residents, thus improving the quality of life; (3) the accepted international standards in tourism should be used when the guidelines for tour operators, for monitoring the impact of various tourism activities, and for setting the acceptability limits for different areas are established; (4) educational and training programs to improve management in the area of protecting natural and cultural resources must be implemented .
3. Success Factors for Managing Sustainable Tourism Development in Urban Areas
Nowadays, cities must assume an important role in addressing environmental problems. They are innovation, efficiency, investment, and productivity centers, but they are also an important cause of climate change. The solutions to sustainable development and global climate change are to be found in the ecological urbanization of cities. Therefore, the campaigns and projects carried out by urban managers in order to reach the sustainable development of regions, cities, and rural areas around are becoming extremely important these days  (p. 254).
The role of urban areas in sustainable development is more and more recognized at a global level. Providing services to residents and businesses, creating jobs, stimulating research, and development within and outside the economic sector are only some of the functions of the cities. However, these functions are not only limited to administrative boundaries of cities, but they also create benefits for the whole region in which cities are included. A success condition for a modern city is to demonstrate that it meets the environmental requirements  (p. 379).
Even if local socio-economic development is achievable and accelerated in urban areas, these are, at the same time, places of environmental problems  (p. 79). Cities are special local environments, and the manner in which they should be governed and managed is determined by their features  (p. 31). A feasible urban development strategy should include elements relating to the image and brand of the city, elements which will ensure a competitive advantage for the local community  (p. 734). Today, business organizations and not-for-profit organizations, among which is the government, need to create and maintain permanent and effective mechanisms which to enable them to adjust in a timely manner in order to respond to trend changes that characterize the environment in which they perform  (p. 7).
In this context, the local authorities, along with other partners (stakeholders), may establish the strategy for sustainable urban development and the suitable forms of assistance  (p. 383). Today, a new paradigm is emerging, in which the individual is recognized as a partner of the public administration, being referred to as a “stakeholder”  (p. 41). This partnership of urban stakeholders may lead to the development of urban areas through integrated urban transport systems for the accessibility and mobility of citizens, as well as environmentally friendly buildings that use renewable energy  (p. 383). Nowadays cities are operating on a global market, competing with other urban areas around the world for investments, residents, and tourists, and thus there is a need for competitiveness  (380). When tourists are choosing their holidays packages they make comparisons, evaluate the possible destinations, and estimate the benefits and drawbacks of each one as a potential holiday destination  (p. 808). The tourists have the liberty to set up their personal itineraries to follow; however, they are not free to interfere in the natural course of the environment they are visiting .
The negative ecological, economic, and social effects of tourism may be lessened through professional urban management  (p. 256). It is important to mention that  has identified a relatively clear distinction between urban management, with reference to the officials executing the policies, and urban governance, which refers to additional components  (p. 34). The author has concluded in his article that urban management is a reform of city administration and that its task is to create equilibrium between social and economic development, which have a fragile coexistence .
Tourism enhancement implies planning, development, management, and continuous improvement . The continuous improvement process should be applied to all forms of tourism, whether we are referring to urban tourism, resorts, rural and coastal areas tourism, or mountains and protected areas tourism . Recreational activities may be developed within natural areas and may bring significant revenues both to those who manage them and to the local communities. Tourism is one of the few economic sectors through which sustainable development of these areas can be achieved, and ecotourism is the most accepted form of sustainable tourism for any country or region of the world  (p. 256). Small tourism enterprises have the potential to help tourism destinations to progress towards sustainability objectives because of their numerical dominance, their central role in human activities, and their increasing importance within the framework of sustainable tourism development  (p. 575).
One of the main barriers to achieving sustainable tourism refers to the difficulty of measuring the sustainability level of a tourism destination. This barrier has hindered the decision-making processes and made it difficult to encounter the needs of the tourism destinations  (p. 278). Achieving sustainable tourism means taking the effects and needs into account in its planning and development  (p. 85).
Furthermore, one of the main challenges in achieving sustainable tourism is to fill the existing gap between the stages of planning and implementation. The stage of planning includes the design of methodologies, tourism policies, and technological know-how. The stage of implementation refers to the execution of tourism projects and plans by public agencies and tourism companies  (p. 279).
In order to plan and manage sustainable tourism development there is a need for thorough insight into the present levels of sustainability or at least sustainability performance, because this is a precondition for designing effective and efficient policies  (p. 4). The definitions of sustainability indicators must take into account the interconnectivity in the tourism system and must reflect the distinctive environmental, economic, and socio-cultural attributes of the destination or entity to which they would be applied .
Development of information and communication technologies has created the premises for better collaboration and communication between tourism organizations, on one hand, and between them and their clients (the tourists), on the other hand  (pp. 84–85). According to , it is predicted that the Internet will be the key to future management of the tourism sector, in the sense that only the companies that will use the technology to identify the customer needs and to respond to them will survive on the market  (p. 501). There is a need to apply some innovative technologies within the tourism sector, since certain services are still based on outdated and unsuccessful methods. The investments should focus on developing the infrastructure in the tourism sector, mainly the major structures such as airports, retail centers, theaters, museums, hotels, and conference centers, which may influence the visible and invisible impact of the tourism sector on the environment  (p. 127). Tourism companies with a well-designed website have access to a vast tourism market, and they can offer their services to a wide range of clients both at the national and international level  (p. 492).
Information and communication technologies may be used by the companies to increase service flexibility and adaptability to the needs of the clients  (pp. 84–85). For instance, consistent with  (p. 133), through the Web, the museum “breaks” the traditional value chain in the sense that it enhances its role from being just a “commodity” with value added to the local tourism services to becoming the catalyst of an innovative “niche” supply developed around the cultural event. Moreover, if effectively integrated in the service process, new technologies could actively support the development of strategies related to innovation, collaboration, and value co-creation, playing a key role in providing competitive services  (p. 85).
4. Case Study Regarding Bucharest as a Tourist Destination
4.1. Data and Methodology
Bucharest, the capital of Romania, was included in the online contest “The Best City to Visit Travel Tournament 2013 Championship” initiated by the site Foxnomad to designate the city visited in 2013 by the blogger Anil Polat . Even though Bucharest did not win the final online contest, it still remained the second destination to visit according to the voters. This is not surprising if we are taking into account the variety of places of interest for tourists in Bucharest such as museums, parks, administrative buildings, restaurants, clubs, etc. The Romanian capital fought hard against and defeated Aswan, Rome, Cape Town, Edinburgh, and Granada and it was finally eliminated by another Romanian city, Sibiu .
The urban essence that makes Bucharest a unique city, with its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, must be found in business urban life, as well as in resident and tourist life  (p. 277). Therefore, the approach of the sustainable urban tourism development should start from the people, from the residents and tourists. They should be partners of the government, of the public administration, of the policy-makers. Consequently, we assert that the opinion of residents and tourists matters because they are the beneficiaries of the public and private services provided. When choosing a destination, the tourists are searching for those services that best suit their needs.
Furthermore, we argue that any policy or strategy in the area of sustainable urban tourism development should start from the needs and desires of the people and should be connected to the principles of sustainable development. Thus, we assert that the method we used in our research was the best approach in this context.
In order to identify people’s opinions regarding the main ways of developing sustainable tourism in Bucharest, we have created a questionnaire which was applied between 14–17 March 2013 at Romania’s Tourism Fair. The questionnaire used was constructed based on a five-level Likert scale of increasing intensity where 1 indicates strongly disagree (very badly) and 5 designates strongly agree (very good). The sampling method was random and 236 subjects, residents aged 18 and over, participated in the research.
Most of the respondents are aged between 18 and 25 years (34% of the respondents), followed by respondents aged between 36 and 45 years (26% of the respondents), respondents aged between 26 and 35 years (25% of the respondents), respondents aged between 46 and 55 years (11% of the respondents), and respondents aged over 55 years (4% of the respondents). Regarding gender, 56% of the respondents are female, while 44% of them are male. The research adequately reflects gender distribution in Bucharest in statistical terms.
The information collected was processed using Microsoft Excel 2003, both for centralizing and analyzing data.
The next section of the article briefly presents the results of the survey, emphasizing people’s opinions regarding the main attractions of Bucharest as tourist destinations, recreational facilities and sources of information about them, institutions involved in promoting sustainable tourism in urban areas, and the role of education in promoting sustainable urban tourism.
4.2. Results of the Survey
4.2.1. Tourist Attractions and Places to Visit
With reference to the main tourist attractions of Bucharest (Figure 2), among the responses to the question “What comes to mind when you think about the main attractions of Bucharest as a tourist destination?” the most common answer of the respondents was “Palace of Parliament (People’s House)”, with 21% of all persons surveyed. In second place came “Dimitie Gusti National Village Museum”, with 13% of the respondents, followed by “Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum”, with 12% of the respondents. Less than 5% of persons surveyed associated the attractions of Bucharest with churches or parks.