Star Wars and the 5 Themes of Geography?

Would you rather eat unsweetened Bantha fodder and wash it down with blue milk than hear any more about the 5 Themes

The 5 Themes of Geography can get old because after you apply them once or twice, it’s the same thing every time. Maybe you did examples of the five themes for your city. Ok… Then maybe you did examples from another world city. Mm hmm… These are important exercises, but after that, it’s the same over and over.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Try applying the 5 Themes to your favorite movie. 

All movies have a setting right? They all take place somewhere, don’t they?

Let me give you an example…

I love Star Wars.


I love Star Wars.

I’ve seen most of the movies 15 to 20 times.

I had an original Millennium Falcon toy with the secret compartment in the floor and the chess set and everything. I think it’s still in my parents’ garage.

Remember the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is trapped upside down with his legs frozen to the ceiling of the monster’s lair on Hoth? He must use the Force to get his light sabre and cut himself free from the frosty prison. Then lots of awesome stuff happens.

Well, I used to have my dad hold me upside down by my feet, and I would replay that scene over and over.  

By the way, thanks Dad. You were awesome in 1981, and you’re still awesome.  I love you.

Here's the scene, but something doesn't seem quite right...


Anyway, now that you know for sure that I’m a Star Wars nut, and that I love Hoth, you’re just positive that I’m going to apply the 5 Themes of Geography to Hoth, right?


I do love Hoth, but my absolute favorite planet in Star Wars is Tatooine.

Applying the 5 Themes of Geography to Tatooine 

Location: Where is Tatooine? 

  • Tatooine is in the Outer Rim.  Basically it’s in the boonies, the wild west of the galaxy.
  • Tatooine was filmed in Tunisia, a country on the northern coast of Africa. It lies between Libya and Algeria.
  • Tunisia’s center point (according to the CIA World Factbook) is 34N, 9E. 
Exercise: Pick out the example(s) above of relative and absolute / exact location.

(CIA World Factbook) - Hmm, I wonder where the Tatooine scenes were filmed...

Place :  What are Tatooine’s physical and human characteristics? What makes it unique?

  • Tatooine is a desert planet heated by two suns. 
  •  It also features mountains, sand dunes, canyons and abundant (and freaky and cool) wildlife such as dewbacks (basically VLLs – very large lizards), eopies (a Star Wars camel), and of course the infamous Sarlacc. If you haven’t seen Return of the Jedi, you need to see it just for the action scene over the Sarlacc
  • Tatooine has a population estimated at 200,000. 
  • Tatooine is home to many humanoid species, but my favorite native species is the Jawa. Jawas are about four feet tall, robe wearing, little dudes and dudettes with glowing eyes. In some ways they remind me of students. The Jawas make their living as scavengers in the deserts of Tatooine. 
  • Tatooine has several cities. My favorite two are Mos Eisley and Mos Espa. 
  • As Obi-Wan famously said, “You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" than Mos Eisley spaceport. Traders, thieves, and smugglers of all species sought fortune in Mos Eisley, often visiting the famous Mos Eisley Cantina for a beverage and a tune from Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, the house band
  • Mos Espa is also a spaceport town. It was Anakin Skywalker’s home while he was a child slave. Tatooine’s most famous podrace took place each year just outside Mos Espa. 
  • Most inhabitants of Tatooine were moisture farmers, hunters, miners, traders, city workers, or slaves. 
  • Pretty much all the planet’s economic activity was under the influence of gangster Jabba the Hutt (until Princess Leia choked him with a chain that is.) 

Exercise: Which examples above are physical characteristics? Which are human characteristics? 

 Movement – How do people, things, and ideas get from place to place on Tatooine?

  • Species and trade goods get around by foot and speeder as well as on domesticated animals such as the dewback, eopie, or bantha
  • Another cool method of transportation is the land skiff which is basically like a hover-barge.
  • Species travel from Tatooine to other planets on various types of spaceships and shuttlecraft.
  • Ideas on Tatooine get around primarily by spoken language, and there are several of those, including Bocce, Galactic Basic (English – go figure), Huttese, Jawaese (“woo-tee-dee!”), and Tusken.
  • Protocol droids like C-3P0 come in handy for translating these and the many other languages spoken on Tatooine and throughout galaxy. 
  • Other droids, like R2 units, can carry ideas via holographic messages on Tatooine and beyond. 

Humanoid / Environment Interaction – How do the people interact with and alter the environment of Tatooine? How does the environment affect how Tatooinians live? 

  • The biggest issue for critters and humanoids on Tatooine is the lack of water. 
  • There is almost no surface water on Tatooine, so to survive there, moisture farmers work to harvest what little water there is in the air using moisture vaporators. 

  •  Moisture vaporators use refrigeration to cool the air and condense the moisture in it. 
  • Heat is another important environmental factor Tatooinians must deal with. 
  • Tunics or robes, as worn by Luke, Obi-Wan, Jawas, and lots of others, helped keep the sun off of you during the day. 
  • The deserts cooled quickly when the planet’s twin suns set, so a good tunic would also keep you warm on those nippy Tatooinian nights. 
  • Tatooinians live primarily in sandstone houses and huts because, well, that’s what’s available in the environment.

Regions – What areas of similar human and physical characteristics are there on Tatooine? 

  • The cities are regions. They are areas where species have come together to settle and trade. 
  • The Dune Sea is a region. This huge desert features, you guessed it, lots of sand dunes. Jawa folklore says that the Dune Sea was once an actual sea. 
  • Jabba’s Palace lies in the Dune Sea. It is an important hub for trade in the region and the whole planet. Naturally Jabba gets his cut of all this trade. I guess that’s how he can afford a palace! 
  • The Jundland Wastes are another Tatooinian region marked by canyons, mesas, and bluffs. 
  • This region is feared by many due to Tusken Raiders. 
  • Ben Kenobi ain’t afraid of no Tuskens though. His house was located in the Wastes. So was Luke’s.
 Exercise: See if you can identify examples above of formal, functional, or perceptual regions. 

What now?

Now try it on your own!

  • Pick your favorite movie, movie series, or movie setting. 
  • You can list each theme and then describe how your movie fits each theme as I did. 
  • You can write an essay.
  • You can make a poster, PowerPoint, diorama, video, etc. Have fun with it!

 I’d love to get your comments. Please consider sharing this article with a friend or your teacher because it means a lot to me to know that I’ve been helpful.

Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I learned so much! Star Wars lover to Star Wars, lover I think this is pretty awesome! Who new that you can apply the 5 themes of geography to so many things!