Geography Case Studies

A selection of case studies for Geography GCSE; their locations, salient points, and effects.

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Earthquakes: Haiti Earthquake 2010 LEDC

  • Date: 12th January 2010
  • Richter Scale magnitude: 7
  • Casualties: 530,000
  • 1,000,000 made homeless
  • 50% of buildings destroyed due to poor infrastructure
  • Large aftershocks
  • Epicentre was 16km away from the capital Port-au-Prince
  • Haiti is on a conservative boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates:  

( Conservative plate boundary

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Earthquakes: Haiti Earthquake 2010 LEDC: Why did s

  • The focus was close to the surface
  • The earthquake was at the most densely populated area in Haiti
  • Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere
  • There was a very poorly built infrastructure
  • The control tower in Haiti's sole airport was damaged so the airport was out of use
  • The port was also damaged due to the earthquake and was also not in use
  • It took 48 hours for worldwide aid to arrive
  • There was a shortage of doctors so many died of minor injuries such as broken limbs


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Volcanoes: Eyjafjallajokull Eruption, Iceland 2010

  • Date: 20th March 2010
  • Eyjafjallajokull is situated in SW Iceland
  • Eyjafjallajokull is in the Mid-Atlantic ridge on the boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates
  • The volcano is on a constructive plate margin
  • A large ash cloud was generated which was blown westwards

( Constructive Plate Boundary

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Volcanoes: Eyjafjallajokull Eruption, Iceland 2010

  • The eruption occurred in a remote area
  • Only 500 people were evacuated
  • There was significant danger of ash to the aeroplane engines
  • All aircraft in the UK and many in Europe were grounded which lost airlines millions of pounds each day and disrupted Easter Holiday-goers
  • Many tourists could not return to the UK
  • UK government sent military ships to recover stranded tourists
  • The Foreign Office set up a helpline for tourists
  • 10% more passengers were allowed on ferries
  • Worldwide business was disrupted
  • Bean farmers in Kenya were unable to fly their produce to Europe, so there was an increase in poverty in the region
  • Many people requiring medication in Europe were unable to get what they needed
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Drought: Ethiopia Drought, the Sahel 2006 LEDC: ov

  • Drought occurs in the Sahel when moist air at the Equator is prevented from moving north and reaching the Sahel
  • In 2006, rains failed to supply enough water
  • Agriculture failed and Ethiopia requested more food aid
  • Herdsmen migrated as there was no pasture on which to graze livestock
  • There was an outbreak of Cholera due to the number of carcasses of dead animals in the Awash River (the main water source in the area)
  • People who are weak due to lack of food are especially vulnerable to Cholera

( Infertile ground due to drought

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Drought: Ethiopia Drought, the Sahel 2006 LEDC: wh

  • In areas with low rainfall or yearly rain seasons, the countries are more susceptible to drought if the rains fail
  • Higher temperatures increase the rate of evaporation
  • In LEDCs people use less water but a small reduction in the water supply has devastating effects
  • In and LEDC it is harder to regulate water use and to enforce restrictions
  • An LEDC has less money to spend on reservoirs and wells
  • The efficiency of water storage was low and there was limited technology for the extraction of water (e.g. from sea water)
  • When the crops failed, there was famine as well as drought
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Tropical Storms: Hurricane Katrina, USA 2005 MEDC

  • Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Florida and reached New Orleans at 6.10 am on the 29th August 2005
  • Katrina formed as a tropical depression off the SE Bahamas
  • Katrina reached category 5 status, and hit New Orleans with maximum winds of 282kph extending for 193km from the centre of the storm


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Tropical Storms: Hurricane Katrina, USA 2005 MEDC:

  • There was heavy flooding which led to many people drowning
  • A total of 1,836 people were killed
  • Over 10,000 people were made homeless as their houses were swept away
  • Homes and roads had to be rebuilt and 3 million people were without electricity
  • Parts of New Orleans are never to be rebuilt
  • Many were uninsured which led to poverty and loss of possessions
  • There was a food shortage and no access to clean water
  • The response to the disaster was very slow and unorganised
  • Many blamed the Federal government for the failure
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Youthful Populations: the Gambia LEDC

  • The Gambia has a very high dependency ratio; 92.3% are not of working age
  • The birth rate is 40, and the death rate is also high
  • The life expectancy is 53 (men) and 57 (women)
  • The population is doubling every 28 years --> high unemployment
  • Deforestation is taking place due to a need for resources (2/3 of the forest has gone)
  • There are not enough resources for effective education
  • It is difficult to support large families
  • Gambians generally have large families for cultural, religious and economic reasons; in the 1990s the fertility rate was 7


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Youthful Populations: the Gambia LEDC: measures to

  • The World Health Organisation is subsidising contraception in the region
  • Free vaccinations are being introduced for children against 6 childhood diseases
  • Mothers are being encouraged to space out their births so they will be healthier
  • Attempts are being made to stabilise the population


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Ageing Populations: East Devon UK MEDC

  • The UK in general has an ageing population and East Devon has the 2nd highest elderly population in the UK
  • The dependency ratio is 54%
  • The birth rate has fallen
  • Young people are leaving the area due to few jobs and expensive cost of living
  • There are few services for youths, pushing the younger generations elsewhere
  • Many retire to the area as it is scenic, on the coast and is an area of geological interest
  • Elderly population puts pressure on the region:
  • Fewer taxes; pensioners don't pay
  • Services such as leisure activities, transport and health-care need to be provided; more challenges for the NHS- hip replacements etc.
  • There is little public transport as it is a rural area
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Ageing Populations: East Devon UK MEDC: measures t

  • 'Ring and Ride' buses were set up and equipped for the disabled
  • But this is expensive and uneconomic given the sparse population
  • NGOs such as Age Concern, Devon Pensioners' Action Forum etc. partake in fundraising and application to the government
  • Sports facilities are subsidised to keep the elderly healthy
  • Government wants elderly to do voluntary work (Big Society)
  • Opportunity for provision of stair lifts, walk in baths etc.
  • But it is difficult to provide enough care staff
  • However, the 'Grey Pound' (money spent by the elderly) is £215 billion


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Urban Development: Newport, South Wales, UK MEDC

  • Newport was originally an industrial town involved in shipping resources from the coal/steel industries in South Wales
  • Now Newport is re-branding and re-imaging  to make itself a modern and more sustainable settlement
  • There are regeneration projects in the old town dock and in John Frost Square. Newport footbridge was recently installed
  • There has been an attempt to re-use brownfield sites such as the new housing at Great Western Wharf along the River Usk
  • New green areas and parks have been created along the river
  • There has been an increase in public transport e.g. the train and bus stations
  • New jobs and services are being created
  • Newport uses advertising to promote the facilities of the town
  • The Newport International Sports Village is a recent addition
  • Newport University has recently been revived
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Rapid Rural-Urban migration: Dharavi, Mumbai

  • Dharavi is a slum in the centre of Mumbai
  • Dharavi covers an area of 525 acres
  • Dharavi has a population of up to 1,000,000 people
  • Water-borne diseases are common and children are especially at risk
  • 500 people share 1 toilet and clothes are often washed in sewage
  • There are 15,000 workshops and 300 bakeries in Dharavi
  • Dharavi generates $1,000,000,000 a year
  • High employment rate; 85% have a job
  • Low wages and many sleep in factory
  • Most industry in Dharavi is illegal
  • Dharavi is split into district areas e.g. pottery and fishing
  • There is a close community and little commuting takes place
  • Safe environment for children
  • Limited services; water from 5.30-7.30 am, no rubbish collection or sewage facility
  • Schools and colleges available
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Dharavi contd.

  • Many houses are built from canvas though in the older areas they can be brick
  • Dangerous building materials such as asbestos are frequently used
  • There are cramped conditions (sometimes 20 to a house)
  • There is flexibility of floor space use
  • Showers and clothes washing are in the streets
  • Dharavi is part of a huge recycling industry
  • 80% of waste is recycled
  • 1,000,000 rubbish bags collected each day
  • 35,000 rag-pickers in Mumbai
  • Recycling centre in Dharavi to be shut down in development plans
  • $2,000,000,000 redevelopment plans
  • Smaller houses, 20 storey high rise flats to be built
  • 100,000 new apartments, slum housing etc. to be demolished
  • People are only housed if they have lived on the ground floor in Dharavi since 1995
  • Lots of money for designers
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Flooding: Cumbria Floods 2009, UK MEDC: overview

  • Date: began 20th November 2009
  • Worst of flooding occurred in Cumbria in the Lake District
  • 314mm fell in just 24 hours (34.6mm than ever before in the UK)
  • The most badly affected town was Cockermouth
  • Heavy rainfall led the ground to become saturated and the groundwater flow increased, causing severe flooding. This flooding is typical of the UK


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Flooding: Cumbria Floods 2009, UK MEDC: effects

  • Emergency services were called in to secure the safety of the regions
  • Police trafficked dangerous roads and established blockades
  • Helicopters rescued many from roofs and ambulances escorted many to hospital
  • Large clean-up programme was launched to clear the streets of debris
  • Many had to leave their homes and stay in shelters
  • Possessions were destroyed, all kitchen and bathroom units need refurbishment
  • Collapsed bridges led to increased journey times and there was damage to businesses


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River Valley: The River Clyde, Scotland MEDC

  • The River Clyde is about 160km long
  • Its source is in the Lowther Hills, Southern Uplands
  • It flows through Motherwell and Glasgow
  • It is formed from two tributaries
  • At Crawford there are interlocking spurs between 300 and 500m high
  • Further downstream there are the Falls of Clyde, four waterfalls near Lanark. The highest fall is Corra Linn at 27m high
  • A gorge can be found due to the waterfalls retreating
  • There is an ox-bow lake near Uddingston village
  • The river meanders between Motherwell and Glasgow
  • Glasgow is built on the flood plain of the river
  • The River Clyde's estuary is about 34km west of Glasgow
  • The estuary is about 3km wide
  • The river joins the Firth of Clyde and then the Irish Sea
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Coastal Areas: Dorset Coast, England MEDC

  • The Dorest coast is made from bands of hard rock and soft rock which has been eroded to form the following landforms:
  • Durdle Door: an arch that was formed by erosion of a crack in the headland by waves
  • Lulworth Cove: a cove formed when a gap was eroded in a band of limestone, exposing the clay behind which was quickly eroded to form a cove. The same is happening at Stair Hole, further along the coast
  • Chesil Beach: a tombolo formed by longshore drift, joining the Isle of Portland to the mainland.
  • Fleet Lagoon: a shallow lagoon found behind Chesil Beach
  • Swanage Bay and Studland Bay: bays in areas of soft rock with The Foreland, a headland made of chalk in between. This headland has been eroded to become a stack (Old Harry) and a stump (Old Harry's Wife)

( ( ( (

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Coastal Management: Start Bay Coastline

  • The Start Bay Coastline includes defences at Slapton, Beesands and Torcross
  • Slapton: the Slapton Ley, situated behind the shingle bar, is a SSSI so hard engineering is not permitted in the area
  • Shingle bastions have recently been replenished as a coastal defence
  • Managed retreat is underway as roads are moved inland and money is spent on community adaptation
  • Torcross: defences include a curved sea wall along the sea front
  • The promenade has been diverted behind the village
  • Beesands: defences include gabions, rip-rap and a curved (wave return) sea wall with rock armour which runs the length of the village
  • Buildings are flood-proofed by sand bags and extra floorboards in an emergency
  • Sunnydale: gabions are found in this area of the coastline
  • North Hallsands: rip-rap is protecting this area from the fate that befell South Hallsands in 1917; in a storm, all 24 houses were lost to the sea


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Coastal Management: Start Bay Coastline: Evaluatio

  • Slapton: shingle bastions are attractive, safe and allow good access to the beaches but have high maintenance costs and do not prevent flooding.
  • Torcross: sea wall allows food access to the beach, stops most erosion and has a lifespan of 100 years, but it does not prevent flooding, is unsightly and caused lots of disturbance during construction.
  • Beesands: These defences prevent flooding, stop most erosion and have fairly low maintenance costs but cause a great deal of disturbance, are dangerous and allow little access to the beach
  • Sunnydale: the gabions are safe and cheap, stop most erosion and allow good beach access, but do not prevent flooding and are unsightly
  • North Hallsands: the rip-rap has low maintenance costs and is attractive but it does not prevent flooding and does little to prevent erosion.

( ( (

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Managing Overpopulation: China

  • China has the world's largest population at over 1.3 billion
  • By 1970, China's resources could not sustain its people and there was a terrible famine and lack of access to water and electricity
  • The 'Late, Long and Few' policy was introduced in 1970
  • This aimed to reduce population growth by encouraging people to have children later, leave longer gaps between each child and have fewer children
  • This policy worked and the fertility rate fell from 5.7 to 2.9 in 9 years
  • But the population was still growing so China introduced a new policy: the 'One Child Policy' in 1979
  • Couples with one child were given benefits such as longer maternity leave, better housing and free education. Couples with more than one child didn't get any benefits and were fined part of their income
  • Over the years the policy has changed so that in rural areas couples can have a second child if the first is a girl or has a physical disability-children are needed to work on farms
  • If a parent has a disability they are allowed a second child to help look after them
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Managing Overpopulation: China: Effectiveness

  • The policy has prevented up to 400 million births and the fertility rate has fallen to 1.8 (2009)
  • But maybe this change wasn't just because of the policy; as countries develop, people want fewer children so this could also be a factor
  • The policy has helped sustainable development as fewer resources are used
  • But now China has an ageing population because of the policy
  • Many baby girls are left abandoned as they are considered not as good as boys
  • This means there are many more men than women so a large proportion of men will never marry
  • Many claim the policy has created 'Little Emperors'- spoilt children
  • However, the policy has worked because China's population is predicted to peak in 2030 and then start dropping


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International Migration: Africa to Europe (LEDC -

  • Migrants move from areas of North Africa to the Canary Islands and Lampedusa
  • Push factors include drought, poverty, civil war, high crime levels and poor services
  • Pull factors include employment, wealth, political stability, better health-care and education, and a lower natural hazard risk
  • Migrants come from Mauritiana, Sahara, Morocco and Algeria among others
  • The migrants are trafficked across the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats with cramped conditions
  • Many cannot swim and they are ill equipped with life jackets
  • Many boats capsize and large numbers perish in the crossing
  • Those who do arrive often require immediate medical attention
  • When they are healthy they must leave the islands and are either expelled from the EU or allowed to stay as refugees/asylum seekers
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International Migration: Africa to Europe (LEDC -

  • Impact on the local communities in the Canary Islands/Lampedusa:
  • Drain on the resources of the area as boats of 100 people arrive each day
  • Regional services e.g. Coast Guards, Red Cross etc. concerned mainly with issues of migrants, so other local issues are overshadowed
  • Drain on the health services to revive ill and wounded
  • Potential solutions to deal with rising immigrant numbers:
  • More money into coast guard schemes
  • Combat people traffickers and the unsafe/squalid conditions
  • Combat push factors forcing people away from Africa e.g. poverty/ lack of health-care
  • Creation of efficient system to cope with arriving immigrants

    (            (

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Urbanisation: China

  • Caused by internal migration from rural to urban areas
  • In from 1990 to 2006, the percentage of people living in urban areas has risen from 26% to 44%
  • Push factors for urbanisation include fewer jobs, lower wages, higher poverty and shortage of services in rural areas
  • Pull factors for urbanisation include more jobs, higher wages, lower poverty (av. income is three times bigger in urban areas) and better services in urban areas
  • The impacts of urbanisation in urban areas are more workers and an increase in demand for services, helping to increase trade and industry and boost the economy, but also more pollution and environmental damage e.g. sewage in local rivers
  • The impacts of urbanisation in rural areas are that money is sent home from towns, helping families to avoid poverty, but at the same time the young people are usually the ones who migrate, leaving an ageing population in rural areas.
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Urbanisation: China: Management of Urbanisation

  • In urban areas:
  • The water supply system has been changed (2001) to cope with increased sewage and pollution, improving water quality and supply
  • In rural areas:
  • A pilot pension scheme was set up (2009) to give retired farmers a pension every month, helping to raise income and reduce poverty in rural areas

(                  (

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Changing Retail Services: South Yorkshire, England

  • South Yorkshire is a mixture of rural and urban areas
  • In 1990, a large out-of-town shopping centre, Meadowhall, was built near Sheffield including 280 shops
  • The number of city centre shops in Sheffield has declined, some of them (e.g. House of Fraser) moving to Meadowhall where rent is cheaper and more space is available
  • Others have closed down due to a 15% trade loss in the city centre due to the construction of Meadowhall
  • There are now fewer shops/post offices in surrounding rural villages (e.g. Hope) as people are travelling into the city to shop
  • Sheffield city centre is undergoing redevelopment to improve parking and reduce crime using a 'City Watch' scheme. This aims to bring people back to the city centre.

(   (   (

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Tropical Storms: Cyclone Nargis 2008, Myanmar LEDC

  • Date: 2nd May 2008
  • Location: Irrawaddy delta, Myanmar (Burma)
  • Wind speeds of more than 217kph
  • Torrential rain and storm surges lead to flooding and drowning
  • More than 140,000 people killed
  • 200,000 farm animals were killed, crops were lost
  • 95% buildings destroyed
  • Electricity and roads destroyed
  • 3 million people made homeless and many lost livelihoods
  • Over 70% households didn't have access to clean water
  • Crop contamination led to disease
  • There was a mosquito outbreak


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Tropical Storms: Cyclone Nargis 2008, Myanmar LEDC

  • Government was warned of cyclone, but did not prepare or warn the population of the risk
  • No emergency evacuation plans
  • Myanmar's military government did little to help those affected and refused to accept aid
  • When foreign helpers were admitted (3 weeks after the cyclone hit), they were severely restricted in access
  • Only 10% of those affected received aid within a week
  • Eventually the government accepted aid e.g. 32 tonnes of aid from India including tents, blankets and medicine. This reduced the number of those dying from starvation etc.



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Thank you, I didn't need all of that but of what I did need it was helpful :D

Thanks :)



Very good case studies thanks. A bonus aswell to find the human development case studies aswell. Thank you



Very good case studies thanks. A bonus aswell to find the human development case studies aswell. Thank you



nott dat usefull



super handy! thanks so much.

:) PurpleJaguar (: - Team GR


Helpful for the case studies i needed 

thanks :)

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