By: Harleen, Jasmine, Jaskaran, Gurkaran, Shan

How do different landforms contribute to where and how people live?

Canada has very distinct landforms that set's our country apart from any other. In order to know how exactly landforms contribute to where people have settled a few things must be looked at first which include; population density, factors that have impacted people to settle in the Great Lakes region, landforms impact on the weather and human settlement near rivers. Landforms provide a record of the earth’s history , that is important when checking population distribution and they can be described as “a core of ancient rock surrounded by lowlands and then highlands on three sides”. It is also important to note that glaciation and underlying geology, created landforms overall, along with things such as natural disasters. By looking at Canada's population it shows that many regions are not that populated therefore Canada has an extremely low population density. The areas with the highest populations are known as census metropolitan areas (CMAs).The Great Lakes region is highly populated with a population of more than 40 million people due to three main factors. Approximately, 8.5 million Canadians get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. 40% of economic activity occurs in the Great Lakes as millions of dollars are made from the commercial and recreational fishing industry. Land uses include; residential 18.6%, commercial/industrial 2.6%, agricultural 8.2%, and other is 70.6%. When dealing with weather, orographic lifting is one of the major things that affect it, as well as the rain shadow effect.Even though having access to fresh water is important, a negative towards settlement near lakes is that people are more vulnerable to flooding. The lives people are living, and how they are living them, can be pleasant or difficult, as it all depends upon what landforms surround and occupy the space they are living in.

Factors that impacted people to settle in the Great Lakes region

Three main factors that have impacted people are; resources, the economy and land usage. Resources (what is available around them...agricultural land (food), drinking water, power generation from the water), the economy (industries, how much money is made), and the land usage (how has the land been used in the region).

Resources: Many early settlers decided to live within the Great Lakes region due to the availability of agricultural land and as for consumption of food there were primary crops (corn,soybean, fruits, vegetables), dairy and meat (fish from the Great Lakes). Now people who have settled in the area consider water as a main source as one in three Canadians and one in seven Americans are provided with drinking water; a total of 8.5 million Canadians get their drinking water from the Great Lakes. Industrial, municipal and agricultural companies use a total of 56 billion gallons of water per day. Other uses include for the generation of hydroelectric power which is about 94% of the water used in the region.

Economy: The Great Lakes region is a very economic area as it is where 40% of Canadian economic activity occurs, also as it supports 25% of agricultural and 45% of industrial industries. The major primary industries that are located within the region are auto manufacturing and steel production; therefore it leads to steel, paper, chemicals and automobiles being made. As 65 million pounds of fish is harvested per year from the lakes, a total of $100 million is made within the commercial fishing industry and $350 million is made in the recreational fishing industry. As more than 200 million tons of cargo is shipped every year, it leads to $180 billion being made each year in the Canada-U.S trade.
Land Usage: The land of the Great Lakes region is used up in different ways such as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and other. For Canada in percentages, residential is 18.6%, commercial/industrial is 2.6%, agricultural is 8.2%, and other is 70.6% (this includes transportation, recreation, water, extraction of resources and forestry). Majority of the area of the Great Lakes are covered in forests for example near Lake Superior (95%), Lake Huron (66%), Lake Ontario (49%) and Lake Erie (59%), (the percentages for each lake area are separately). The way that the land is used if a factor as people wouldn’t want to live in an area that is covered in factories instead they would prefer an area which is eco-friendly with forests.

In the Great Lakes due to these three factors a lot of settlement has occurred in the region; approximately 1/3 of Canada’s population and 1/10 of United States population lives there. To make it even more precise about 90% of Ontario’s population is settled within the Great Lakes region. Before, in 1950 the total population was about 28 million and now the population is more than 40 million people.

Population Density Affected By Landforms

Canada's population density is small compared to other countries at a jaw dropping 4 people per square kilometer! It is, in fact, one of the countries with the lowest population densities in the world. Canada has a population of about 34 million people. While the majority live in cities, Canadians also live in small towns, rural areas and everywhere in between. There are large influxes of people in some areas and hardly no people at all in others. Why is this? Landforms are the causes of where the human race settles, and how the human race exists in these settlements.

Population decrease vs. increase:

Many areas in Canada, are having less and less people inhabited in them. For example, In tropical swamps and dissected plateaus, river valleys tend to usually repel population; therefore, people are searching for new places to populate. People get very crowded in one area, that they just disregard about half of Canada! There is a reason for this statement though. Civilians want to live in areas that have more benefits and good lifestyle opportunities to them (great climate, vegetation areas, soil, drainage basins/water bodies, and geologic processes). All of Canada does not provide all of these wants and needs, but some areas are efficient, such as the Great Lakes region. In addition, take into account the Western High Arctic region. It is one of the driest regions in the world, receiving less than 11 centimeters of precipitation yearly. Snow may fall in any month, but it would be a dry powdery snow that blows like dust on the wind. People do not want to live in areas like that. Furthermore, the official count of population of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with the highest population densities are: Toronto (866), Montréal (854), Vancouver (735), Kitchener (546), Hamilton (505), and Victoria (475)! 7 in 10 Canadians were living in a census metropolitan area (CMA) on July 1, 2015. These cities provide what people need and want. The landforms that they are located on are mostly lowlands. The diversity that each region has of landforms, is insurmountable (for now at least), hence the fact that some people have to get used to things that are not as pleasant. On the other hand, Sun-facing slopes provide good locations for the growth of settlements, and in the mountainous areas, valleys provide good areas for human settlements. Some areas are constantly changing such as the density of population on the world map of population distribution where plains meet the mountain ranges.


Landforms are fascinating, as their creation is all natural, leaving them for the world to admire. The creations of landforms are due to glaciation and underlying geology. Underlying geology is what determines a region’s landform, and provides the structure. Glaciation provides the details (ex. If there are hills or flat land). Topography is a key part of landforms as it establishes them and the humans living there, and as it displays all of the landforms. The main areas of human population are usually the areas marked with flat topography. Rugged and flowing topog­raphy stops the growth of human population in any area. For instance, British Columbia’s topography is changing as features of the landscape are struck by erosion, which means that surface processes are taking away something (rocks, e.t.c.), from one place and moving it to another.

Population Density is tremendously affected by landforms. The lifestyles that people acquire, and the choices that they make all depend upon the landform region that they live in and what it provides for them.

Landforms Affecting The Weather

There are two ways that landforms affect the weather and they both include rain and mountains. Orographic lifting is one of the major things that affect the weather, this process is where mountains shunt air upwards into the sky and if the mountains are tall enough the air may make clouds causing it to rain. The other way that landforms will affect the weather is the rain shadow effect. This is when the orographic lifting sucks the moisture out of the downwind side of the mountain making it dry, which causes desserts to be created and it makes heavy clouds that causes it to rain (example; western slopes).

Human Settlement Near Lakes/Rivers

Humans have decided to settle near lakes because access to fresh water is very important. Early settlers have traditionally settled near bodies of water. Now it isn't very vital to be close to a water source as our water is pumped from the ground but a negative towards settlement near lakes is that people are more vulnerable to flooding.