Geography Population Geography
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Geography, the science of place, i.e., the study of the surface of the earth, the location and distribution of its physical and cultural features, the areal patterns or places that they form, and the interrelation of these features as they affect humans. Methods and Branches
Geography is a synoptic science that uses the same elements as the other sciences but in a different context. It integrates data spatially, making elaborate use of maps as its special tool. Geography may be studied by way of several interrelated approaches, i.e., systematically, regionally, descriptively, and analytically. The systematic approach organizes geographical knowledge into individual categories that are studied on a worldwide basis; the regional approach integrates the results of the systematic method and studies the interrelationships of the different categories while focusing on a particular area of the earth; the descriptive approach depicts where geographical features and populations are located; the analytical approach seeks to find out why those features are located where they are. In the study of geography two main branches may be distinguished, physical geography and human (or cultural) geography, originally anthropogeography. The first, based on the physical sciences, studies the world’s surface, the distribution, delineation, and nature of its land and water areas.
Climate, landforms (see geomorphology), and soil are examined as to origin and are classified as to distribution. Drawing on the biological sciences, fauna and flora (biogeography) are brought into an areal pattern. Through the mathematical sciences the motion of the earth and its relationship to the sun (seasons), the moon (tides), and the planets are studied, as well as mapmaking and navigation. Human geography places humans in their physical setting; it studies their relationship with that environment as well as their conscious activities and continuous progress in adapting themselves to it (and to other humans) and in transforming their environment to their needs.
Human geography may in turn be subdivided into a number of fields, such as economic geography, political geography (with its 20th-century offshoot, geopolitics), social geography (including urban geography, another 20th-century ramification), environmental perception and management, geographical cartography, geographic information systems, and military geography. Historical geography (which reconstructs geographies of the past and attempts to trace the evolution of physical and cultural features) and urban and regional planning are sometimes considered branches of geography. History of Geographic Study
Geography was first systematically studied by the ancient Greeks, who also developed a philosophy of geography; Thales of Miletus, Herodotus, Eratosthenes, Aristotle , Strabo , and Ptolemy made major contributions to geography. The Roman contribution to geography was in the exploration and mapping of previously unknown lands. Greek geographic learning was maintained and enhanced by the Arabs during the Middle Ages. Arab geographers, among whom Idrisi , Ibn Battutah, and Ibn Khaldun are prominent, traveled extensively for the purpose of increasing their knowledge of the world. The journeys of Marco Polo in the latter part of the Middle Ages began the revival of geographic interest outside the Muslim world. With the Renaissance in Europe came the desire to explore unknown parts of the world that led to the voyages of exploration and to the great discoveries. However, it was mercantile interest rather than a genuine search for knowledge that spurred these endeavors. The 16th and 17th cent. reintroduced sound theoretical geography in the form of textbooks (the Geographia generalis of Bernhardus Varenius ) and maps (Gerardus Mercator ‘s world map).
In the 18th cent. geography began to achieve recognition as a discipline and was taught for the first time at the university level. The field of geography is a vast and wondrous academic field with thousands of researchers working in dozens of interesting sub-disciplines or branches of geography. There is a branch of geography for just about any subject on earth. In an effort to acquaint the reader with the diversity of the branches of geography, I summarize many below. Human Geography Many branches of geography are found within human geography, a major branch of geography that studies people and their interaction with the earth and with their organization of space on the earth’s surface. Economic Geography Economic geographers examine the distribution of production and distribution of goods, the distribution of wealth, and the spatial structure of economic conditions. Population Geography Population geography is often equated with demography but population geography is more than just patters of birth, death, and marriage. Population geographers are concerned with the distribution, migration, and growth of population in geographic areas.
Geography of Religions This branch of geography studies the geographic distribution of religious groups, their cultures, and built environments. Medical Geography Medical geographers study the geographic distribution of disease (including epidemics and pandemics), illness, death and health care. Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Geography The study of leisure-time activities and their impact on local environments. As tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, it involves a great number of people making very temporary migrations and is thus of great interest to geographers. Military Geography Practitioners of military geography are most often found within the military but the branch looks not only at the geographic distribution of military facilities and troops but also utilizes geographic tools to develop military solutions. Political Geography Political geography investigates all aspects of boundaries, country, state, and nation development, international organizations, diplomacy, internal country subdivisions, voting, and more.
Agricultural and Rural Geography Geographers in this branch study agriculture and rural settlement, the distribution of agriculture and the geographic movement and access to agricultural products, and land use in rural areas. Transportation Geography Transportation geographers research transportation networks (both private and public) and the use of those networks for moving people and goods. Urban Geography The branch of urban geography investigates the location, structure, development, and growth of cities — from tiny village to huge megalopolis. Physical Geography Physical geography is another major branch of geography. It is concerned with the natural features on or near the surface of the earth. Biogeography Biographers study the geographic distribution of plants and animals on the earth in the subject known as biogeography. Water Resources Geographers working in the water resources branch of geography look at the distribution and use of water across the planet within the hydrologic cycle and of human-developed systems for water storage, distribution, and use. Climate Climate geographers investigate the distribution of long-term weather patterns and activities of the earth’s atmosphere.
Global Change Geographers researching global change explore the long term changes occurring to the plant earth based on human impacts on the environment. Geomorphology Geomorphologists study the landforms of the planet, from their development to their disappearance through erosion and other processes. Hazards Geography As with many branches of geography, hazards combines work in physical and human geography. Hazard geographers research extreme events known as hazards or disaster and explore the human interaction and response to these unusual natural or technological events. Mountain Geography Mountain geographers look at the development of mountain systems and at the humans who live in higher altitudes and their adaptations to these environments. Cryosphere Geography Cryosphere geography explores the ice of the earth, especially glaciers and ice sheets. Geographers look at the past distribution of ice on the planet and ice-cause features from glaciers and ice sheets. Arid Regions Geographers studying arid regions examine the deserts and dry surfaces of the planet.
The explore how humans, animals, and plants make their home in dry or arid regions and the use of resources in these regions. Coastal and Marine Geography Within coastal and marine geography, there are geographers researching the coastal environments of the planet and how humans, coastal life, and coastal physical features interact. Soils Geography Soil geographers study the upper layer of the lithosphere, the soil, of the earth and its categorization and patterns of distribution. Regional Geography Many geographers focus their time and energy on studying a specific region on the planet. Regional geographers focus on areas as large as a continent or as small as an urban area. Many geographers combine a regional specialty with a specialty in another branch of geography. Applied Geography Applied geographers use geographic knowledge, skills, and techniques to solve problems in everyday society. Applied geographers are often employed outside of academic environment and work for private firms or governmental agencies.
Cartography It has often been said that geography is anything that can be mapped. While all geographers know how to display their research on maps, the branch of cartography focuses on improving and developing technologies in map-making. Cartographers work to create useful high-quality maps to show geographic information in the most useful format possible. Geographic Information Systems Geographic Information Systems or GIS is the branch of geography that develops databases of geographic information and systems to display geographic data in a map-like format. Geographers in GIS work to create layers of geographic data and when layers are combined or utilized together in complex computerized systems, they can provide geographic solutions or sophisticated maps with the press of a few keys.
Geographic Education Geographers working in the field of geographic education seek to give teachers the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to help combat geographic illiteracy and to develop future generations of geographers. Historical Geography Historical geographers research the human and physical geography of the past. History of Geography Geographers working in the history of geography seek to maintain the history of the discipline by researching and documenting the biographies of geographers and the histories of geographic studies and geography departments and organizations. Remote Sensing Remote sensing utilizes satellites and sensors to examine features on or near the earth’s surface from a distance. Geographers in remote sensing analyze data from remote sources to develop information about a place where direct observation is not possible or practical. Quantitative Methods This branch of geography uses mathematical techniques and models to test hypothesis. Quantitative methods are often used in many other branches of geography but some geographers specialize in quantitative methods specifically. Physical geography
Main article: Physical geography
Physical geography (or physiography) focuses on geography as an Earth science. It aims to understand the physical problems and the issues of lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, pedosphere, and global flora and fauna patterns (biosphere). Human geography
Human geography is a branch of geography that focuses on the study of patterns and processes that shape the human society. It encompasses the human, political, cultural, social, and economic aspects. Human geography can be divided into many broad categories, such as: Cultural geography, Development geography, Economic geography Health geography Historical & Time geog.