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Endogenous and Exogenous Factors

Endogenous and Exogenous factors contributing to the character of places

There are a large range of human and physical factors that can affect the character of a place. These can include technology, industry, soils, geology, weather and climate, demographics and communications. It is the mixture of these factors interacting together that make places UNIQUE and changes our sense of place. These unique background factors also dictate decisions on how places develop and how they are changed – for example, in urban areas redevelopment or urban resurgence initiatives often take into account many background place factors. Similarly, in our UK National Parks which comprise much of our best rural scenery, any new developments have to take into account the historical “look” or place factors within that National Park so they blend in.

Helvellyn Slate Mine

Slate roofed building close to an old lead mine, Helvellyn

The Lake District National Park has a whole range of rules and planning permissions to maintain the areas place factors such as slate roofs, tightly enclosed streets and vernacular buildings. According to the LDNP “Local building traditions have given the various architectural styles a distinctive quality, often unique to the Lake District. Bank barns, packhorse bridges, hogg houses, circular chimneys, “crow-step” gables and galleries all help to provide the area with a strong sense of place1 The local geology influences the building style and type, but also the type of farming, which affects the landscape too. Hill sheep farming are practiced throughout the area and some arable is possible on valley bottoms. Climate plays a role here too.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”The Lake District achieved World Heritage Status in 2018 adding it to a list that includes the Pyramids in Giza and the Grand Canyon! This links to place as heritage is “our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.”2

Lake District World Heritage Site

ABOVE: Plaque dedicated to the Lake District becoming a World heritage site.

Both rural and urban areas therefore are designed and planned considering their Genius Loci3- the prevailing character or atmosphere of a place, which literally means “the presiding god or spirit of a place”.

Endogenous and exogenous factors

Endogenous factors are the characteristics of the place itself or factors which have originated internally. They are the local place factors and include location, topography, physical geography, land use, built environment and infrastructure, demographic and economic characteristics.

Endogenour Place Factors

The second factor contributing to the character of places we need to consider are Exogenous. These Exogenous factors involve relationships with other places. They include the relationship of one place with other places and the external factors which affect this. Places do not exist in isolation they are affected by EXTERNAL FORCES and FACTORS. These factors can have a major impact upon a place.

Examples of exogenous factors;

  1. Migration – a shifting flow of PEOPLE. For example, in 2004 the EU enlarged and allowed the free movement of people from 8 countries in Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). This made immigration increase 15% reaching a record high at the time of 589,000.4 This can have a huge affect on places which receive these migrants. New cultures, food music, ways of living are imported into the place, changing its character.
  2. Technological change – a shifting flow of IDEAS - consider the changes that have taken place in our places because of innovations in technology. Our city centers often have Wi-Fi access now and people are connected when experiencing places. Historically, ideas shifted more slowly.
  3. Economic changes – the shifting flows of money and investment. We have seen a tremendous change in patterns of production across the globe. The new International Division of Labour has transferred a lot of manufacturing production Eastwards to Asia. High costs have put pressure on businesses in Western Europe. In Redcar, a steel works open since 1979 closed in 2015 ending 140 years of steel making on Teesside. Thai-based Sahaviriya Steel Industries closed the plant due to falling global steel prices and high energy costs in the UK. Around 3,000 jobs were lost at the plant, both through direct employees and those working in the factory's supply chain.5 This is also connected to the shifting flow of resources
  4. Government rules and decisions – governments can make decisions that impact areas. For example, many of the BBCs functions were relocated from London to Manchester, helping to create Media City in Salford.

Redcar Steel works
Redcar Steel Works by Ralph Gant from Billingham, England / CC BY-SA (

Newcastle upon Tyne – an example of endogenous and exogenous factors

We can consider Newcastle upon Tyne as a good example of endogenous and exogenous factors affecting the character of the city, particularly the City Centre;

Newcastle Place Factors

The city has also been massively impacted by EXOGENOUS factors throughout time too. Competition from abroad and the drive towards larger ships resulted in a decline in the ship building industry. Government decisions such as locating HMRC in the North of the city have delivered jobs to the city. National Government decisions on tertiary education have resulted in the growth of the tertiary and quaternary sectors in the Universities. TNC retailers and the demand for larger retail units resulted in the decline of Grainger Town as a retail area, then UK government funds and a successful regeneration scheme allowed for its rebirth. There are many others, including the way migration is changing the demographic nature of the city.

NEXT TOPIC - Places: Relationships and connections


1 – LDNP (2020), building traditions. Accessed 28th April 2020 at

2- UNESCO, (2020) Accessed 28th April 2020 at

3- Edward Relph (2015), Spirit of Place. Accessed 27th April 2020 at

4 – ONS (2016), UK Perspectives 2016: International migration to and from the UK. Accessed 27th April 2020 at /2016-05-26

5 – Hartlepool Mail (2016) Redcar steelworks job losses still felt one year later, say MPs. Accessed 27th April 2020 at



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