What is Ecumene in Geography?

Ecumene refers to the world's inhabited land.
Ecumene refers to the world's inhabited land.

The term is derived from an ancient Greek word "oecumene" which referred to the known world or the habitable world. During the era of the Roman Empire, it was used to refer to civilization. Inhabited lands that were the first to be civilized consequently attracted more immigrants. Ecumene further explains where people live and why they live there. Ancient ecumene can be established through excavated fossils and other artifacts used in the past.

In modern times ecumene refers to any inhabited land. Geographers use the term to refer to land permanently occupied by human beings as distinguished from land not inhabited at all or temporarily inhabited. Distinct features of an inhabited land are the permanent house, agricultural activities, setting up of industries, or any other economic activity. Ecumene is viewed as the nuclear center where the highest number of human activities takes place and the population is most dense.

Ecumene and Cartography

In the middle ages and the late antiquity, ecumene was used in cartography to explain the map of the world. Cartography refers to the production of geographical maps. Maps will explain the ecumene of a certain territory. Cartography has been used to explain inhabited regions, construction sites, designs, and economic activities. Greek cartographers created an ecumene of the Earth as early as 150 BCE. Modern cartography is made simpler by technological advancement.

Ecumene and Dot Maps

The concept of ecumene is explained by dot maps. Dot maps use dots to show the distribution pattern of a certain phenomenon or feature in a given geographical location. A visual scatter is used to determine the density or scarcity of the feature being measured. Dot maps can be either one dot for one phenomenon or one dot for more than one phenomenon. Dots can be placed in a way that any reader can easily interpret the geographical disparity. Modern computerized maps use the same concept through geographic information systems. Services of Google Earth are used to make more geographically analytical thematic maps.

Types Of Ecumene

There are several forms of ecumene clustered according to unique characteristics.

Population Ecumene

Population ecumene is about the number of people living in a certain geographical zone. It is possible to count those people and come up with useful data. The census data can be used to calculate the population density of the inhabited region. Major decisions made by the government and other stakeholders are influenced by population ecumene.

Agricultural Ecumene

Agricultural ecumene establishes the significant agricultural activity in the inhabited land. The resulting data will assist in getting the agricultural indicators. Such indicators are the ratio of viable agricultural land to the total land area. The actual value of economic production from the land is established. Geographically arable land is therefore established.

Cultural Ecumene

A global ecumene was brought by the Europeans after the exploration missions. Before Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, and others discovered the New World, there was only one ecumene of the Old World. Later the New World was discovered bringing in a new culture. The ecumene affected politics, science, economics, and technology. The end result was the fusion of the two ecumene into one world system which widened the range of inhabited land.

Industrial Ecumene

The Industrial Revolution brought reforms in both the inhabitable and uninhabitable land. Some previously uninhabited regions got new residents after industries were constructed. Dependency on a single industry or skill ceased. Industries were grouped into ecumene depending on the similarity of production technique. The industrial ecumene contributed to rural-urban migration.


More in World Facts