What is Geography?

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Geography is the study of the Earth, its physical properties, its orientation, places, landscape, environment and people.

The term ‘geography’ was first used by Greek scholar Eratosthenes at around 200 BC. Eratosthenes, known as the father of geography, was also the first to study the Earth in the geographic sense as we know it today. Geography comes from the Greek word geographia, literally meaning ‘to write about the Earth’. Geography has two major sub-groups, namely: human geography (a social science) and physical geography (or physiography, a natural science).

Human geography deals with humans and how they interact and are affected by their environment. Under human geography, subjects such as culture, economy, politics, population and urban planning are studied. While human geography does not directly deal with the Earth’s physical form, this nonetheless shapes how humans build their environment. Some disciplines that fall under human geography are: cultural geography, economic geography, political geography and urban geography.

Physical geography deals with the Earth’s natural environment such as land formations, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. Physical geography is also commonly referred to as Earth science. Some of the disciplines that fall under physical geography are: climatology, geomorphology, hydrology, biogeography and oceanography.

Geography is important in understanding world and human history. Through geography people are able to uncover the factors which shaped how our ancestors lived, why battles were fought, even why our diets are as they are today. Geography gives us a blueprint as to how our world used to be, why it is as we know it today, and what it will be in the future.

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