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Wikitravel:Gerarchia geografica

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Travel is, in essence, about geography. Wikitravel is thus also about geography, although this is only one way of looking at travel (vedi Altri modi di concepire il viaggio per i dettagli).

Until extraterrestrial travel is a practical possibility for non-billionaires, Wikitravel is going to deal with travel on planet Earth (although there is a Space article for jaunts out of the atmosphere). We see a rough hierarchy of geographical areas in the world, detailed below. Each level of hierarchy probably deserves an article of some length on its own. The names are unfortunately kind of forced, but they're selected to be unique just to make it easy to follow.

Purpose[Modifica sezione]

Why do we have a geographical hierarchy in the first place? The point of the hierarchy is not to nitpick about geographical niceties, but to organize our work. What do we write Wikitravel articles about? What are the subjects of our discussions? What kind of article do I write about Topic X? When we have a hierarchy of geographical units, we can use them to identify things we write about, and thus how we write about them.

For example, consider Catalonia. By understanding the hierarchy, a contributor can know that Catalonia is a regioni. From there, they can figure out that the article about Catalonia should start with the region article template; that it should contain links to cities in Catalonia like Barcelona; and that there should be a link to the Catalonia article from its containing nazione, Spain. (Yes, this is a politically loaded example -- many Catalonians consider their region to be its own country). They also know what not to put in -- that information about money should go up at the country level, and that listings for individual restaurants and hotels should go down at the città level.

By having a hierarchy, we don't have to figure and refigure this stuff out over and over again for Normandy and The Lake District and New England and every other region in the world. Sure, there will be exceptions for every place, but by having rough guidelines, we can have a framework to make those exceptions against.

These levels of hierarchy aren't hard and fast, and they're open to revision. But it makes sense for articles at a given level of hierarchy to have links to the next level down in the hierarchy, and for articles at the same level of hierarchy to be about the same.

The hierarchy[Modifica sezione]

The Wikitravel geographical hierarchy goes like this:

Levels in the hierarchy can be skipped if they don't make sense. For example, North America only has three countries in it -- it doesn't need to be subdivided into continental sections. The country of Andorra is only a few square miles in size -- it would be laughable to write articles about its different regions.

Continenti[Modifica sezione]

Continents are big sections of the globe. We've started with Asia, Africa, North America, etc., and a separate pseudo-continent of Island nations. There's probably some fine-tuning at this level that can be done. There's not actually much practical travel information that can be given on, say, Asia, but it does provide a convenient container for the next level of hierarchy.

Continental sections[Modifica sezione]

A section is a division of a continent into a logical travel part. Classic examples are Southeast Asia or Scandinavia. Sometimes sections may not make sense, or may be equivalent to national boundaries. For example, it's natural to divide North America into Canada, the USA, and Messico.

Nazioni[Modifica sezione]

A country is a recognized state territory on the globe, like Djibouti, Francia, or Brasile. Countries tend to be the level where information about currency, language, culture, etc. get described.

See also: Country article template

Regioni[Modifica sezione]

A region is a subnational division that is climatically, culturally, geographically or politically coherent. Regions may lie along subnational borders -- like states in the USA, provinces in Canada, or departements in France -- but more often they are above this level. One could divide Vietnam, for example, into the North (Hanoi and environs), the Central Coast (Danang, Hoi An, Nha Trang), the Central Highlands (Dalat and nearby) and the South (Saigon and the Mekong Delta).

It's not impossible that regions would cross national borders -- the Himalayas would be a good example -- but the idea is to have travel divisions below the nation level. Also, Acque are usually not considered regions, but exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

For large countries, regions can and should contain other regions, in order to make it easier to grasp. For example, the USA has 50 legal divisions -- more, if you count territories like the District of Columbia or Guam -- which is probably too many bits for people to grasp all at once. For the USA, we've divided the country up into about 10-12 regions, each of which in turn contains one or more of the US states. It may be reasonable to do this in other countries, although (as noted above) it's not always necessary to divide our regions along political boundaries.

See also: Region article template, Acque

Città[Modifica sezione]

A city is, in reality, the unit of travel guide geography. It's where you arrive to, where you go see sights, where you find a hotel, where you eat in restaurants, where you move on from when you're done. Wikitravel's definition of a city is flexible: cities may be literal incorporated cities, but they can also be larger metropolitan areas with suburbs and satellite cities, like Los Angeles or Paris, or they can be smaller towns and villages, like Zermatt or Panmunjeom. Where suburbs, satellite cities and villages deserve their own Wikitravel entries is a matter of judgement -- probably depending on the amount of information about those places.

Most information in Wikitravel will be about specific cities -- the practical dollars-and-addresses info. See Cos'è un articolo? for help in drawing the line between cities and attractions in cities, as well as dealing with non-city destinations like national parks.

See also: small city article template, big city article template, huge city article template

Distretti[Modifica sezione]

Some cities are just so big and so diverse that there's too much information to keep in one Wikitravel article. It'd make sense, then, to divide the city again into districts, so that practical info -- hotel listings, restaurants, bars, sightseeing attractions -- can get their due. Examples of districts in San Francisco would be San Francisco/Marina, San Francisco/Tenderloin, and San Francisco/Mission.

Whether to break down a city into districts is more a matter of content than of physical size. Lubbock, Texas is an awfully big city geographically, but it just doesn't have enough stuff to write about that would justify breaking it down into district articles.

Esempi[Modifica sezione]

Here's kind of a partial example to illustrate the hierarchical levels described above:

  • Asia <continente>
  • Australasia <continente>
  • Africa <continente>
  • America del Nord <continente>
    • Canada <nazione>
    • Messico <nazione>
    • Stati Uniti d'America <country>
      • New England <regione>
      • Great Lakes <regione>
      • California <regione>
        • Sacramento Valley <regione>
        • Sierra Nevada <regione>
        • Bay Area <regione>
          • Berkeley <città>
          • Palo Alto <città>
          • San Francisco <città>
            • Mission <distretto>
            • Marina <distretto>
            • Castro Street <distretto>

The hierarchy of each article is automatically displayed in the breadcrumb navigation menu below each article. For example, Castro Street's breadcrumb menu shows:

North America : United States of America : California : Bay Area : San Francisco  : Castro Street

Creating these menus requires entering the correct isIn tag, see breadcrumb navigation for the details.

Dividing geographical units[Modifica sezione]

Some of the geographical units in this hierarchy are easy to decide on, in that they have legal boundaries: cities and countries, for example. Others are so well accepted that it's hard to imagine them being controversial, such as continents. But the others -- continental sections, regions, and city districts -- have fuzzier boundaries and definitions. How, then, do we decide where to define them?

Some guidelines are:

  • The 7±2 rule. Psychologists have discovered that human beings are hard-wired to group things into sets of 5-9 objects. If there are more than that many things to be grouped, we sub-divide the group into subgroups, each of which has up to 7±2 things in it. For Wikitravel, this means that if there are very many countries in a continent, or cities in a country, it can be helpful to break those up into a number of groups, each of which has its own members.
  • Traditional definitions. Some regions or continental sections or districts have traditional definitions: the Benelux countries, The Lake District, the American Southwest. It's best when possible to follow these traditional groupings, as travellers will recognize them.
  • Political or legal definitions. Some countries are divided into counties, cantons, states, provinces, or what have you by their governments. It can be helpful to use these, when they're not so numerous they'd violated the 7±2 rule. For example, Mexico has 32 states -- far too many.
  • Language or cultural definitions. Some countries have clean divisions between language or ethnic lines. So, for example, Switzerland might be easy to divide into its French-, German-, Italian- and Romanche-speaking areas.

Dividing geographical units is something of a dark art. Use caution, consensus, and collaboration when possible.

Note on legal names versus travel names[Modifica sezione]

The legal divisions in the geography of the world -- nations, provinces, and cities -- don't necessarily make for reasonable travel divisions. Just because some national government decided it would be easier to administer some swath of land by laying down lines on the official map doesn't mean that they deserve separate articles in Wikitravel. Yes, Baja California Norte and Baja California Sud are technically two different Mexican states, but for purposes of a Wikitravel article, it makes sense to combine them into Baja California.

Overlap[Modifica sezione]

In general, we try to avoid overlap between two destination guides, unless one destination contains the other. If we have overlapping guides, readers don't know where to go to get travel information, and contributors don't know where to put travel information. It's also easier to draw maps for a destination if none of the parts of the destination overlap.

A "hierarchy" actually means that no two places overlap. Each geographical unit should be contained by exactly one "parent" unit.

There are sometimes needs to make exceptions to this rule, though. An example would be a region that straddles the political boundary between two countries, states, or provinces. It is usually preferable to deal with these instances as a single region, rather than dividing them up into unnatural, small pieces divided by the imaginary lines of borders. An example would be Lake Tahoe, a region between California and Nevada.



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