What is Geography?

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What is Geography?

It is not yet clearly defined as an art or science so most scholars prefer to consider it as a combination of both disciplines. Geography is a study that seeks to understand the earth, its features, natural occurrences, natural resources, the environment and the human aspect in all of these. It is a wide and diverse subject that endeavors to provide understanding of various regions of the earth.

The word geography was derived from a Greek term, geographia lit which when directly translated is the equivalent of earth describe write. A better translation might have it as, written description of the earth. For many centuries, the earth has held man in awe of its treasure, characteristics and various phenomena. Man has always wanted to gain a greater understanding of where he lives so as to know how to better use the resources that are available and manage them for greater sustainability. It has also been important for our survival as a species to understand natural occurrences, their causes and work towards predicting them.

Modern geography has however evolved from this traditional view to be presented in two main categories that are human geography and physical geography. Physical geography is more in line with the original study that looks into land forms, climate, vegetation, water, soil and other similar components of the natural environment. Human geography on the other hand looks at what has been created by man and the impact of these creations on the areas around them. Some of the areas covered under human geography include religious geography, urban geography and political geography.  All these are creations of man and have an influence in the manner in which man uses the resources around him.

Since geography helps us understand our environment and natural factors or occurrences, it makes it possible to forecast and plan on how to best survive in the various regions of the world as well as how best to manage the natural resources present in these places. Understanding the directions and strengths of winds to expect at various times and periods helped early day sailors in planning their voyages. The same kind of knowledge is today applied in harvesting wind power which is one of the best sources of green energy.  Through the study of geography man has been able to make more environmentally responsible decisions that will improve our chances of survival and even that of other species.

There are very many sub categories that fall under the two main branches of geography. Specializing in any of these is required in order to have a good chance in making a career as a geographer. Basic geography is simply too broad to be applied as a profession and thus the need to break it down into climatology, ecology, oceanography, paleogeography and  more than a dozen other sub categories. These are highly specialized areas of study and provide us with knowledge of how that aspect of nature affects us and also how it relates with the rest of our natural and manmade environment.

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