For thousands of years, people moved from place to place, living in tents or even in caves. They traveled in search of food. When people learned how to grow crops and keep livestock, they could settle down in one place. They began building permanent homes.
The first homes were simple one-room structures made from clay or wood. Later, people learned to use other materials, such as bricks, cement and glass. But even today, homes look different from place to place. Even in the United States, a home you’d see in New England looks very different than one built in Tucson, Arizona.
What determines the type of homes built in a certain area? The first consideration is the climate. If you live in the Arizona desert, you don’t need to worry about cold winters. Instead, you need a home that will stay cool. In areas that experience yearly flooding, such as Southeast Asia, homes are built on stilts so the water runs beneath them.
The next consideration is the types of materials available. Trees are scarce in the desert regions of Africa. Many people here live in homes made of mud and grasses. People living in the mountains often build homes made from rocks and timber.
- Hong Kong is a crowded city and homes are very expensive. Many people live on small boats, called sampans, which float in the harbor.
- People living in large cities often live in town houses, row houses or apartments. These homes take up less room so more people can live in one space.
- In England and other parts of Europe, you can still see cottages built with thatched roofs. The roofs are made from water reeds or grasses. Thatched roofs are waterproof, but they burn easily.
- In Mongolia, nomadic tribes live in domed tents called gels or yurts. These homes are covered with cloth insulated with wool or fur. The homes are open with a stove in the center for cooking and heating.
- The Bagobo tribe in the Philippines lived in tree houses, which kept them safe from snakes, dangerous animals and enemies. Today, the tree houses are mostly used for rest and play.
- Many people around the world live in caves even today, but these homes are anything but primitive. In Southern Spain, for example, people have built spacious, comfortable homes in caves.
Visit the University of Chicago for lesson plans and photos about houses around the world.