“What is geography?” is a very common question to the students. They try to figure it out. To most of the students geography is limited to the memorization of place names and map looking.
In fact, the word, ‘Geography’ comes from Greek word ‘geographia’ that means “earth describe write.” “To describe or write about the earth” would be its literal translation. Eratosphenes was the first person who used the word ‘Geography’. Geography is the oldest and mother of all sciences that deals with the study of earth, its lands, inhabitants and phenomena. The basic features of geography are exploration and the discovery of new places and new cultures. It helps us to explore how environments change naturally. Geography is considered to be the bridge between the social sciences (human geography) and the natural sciences (physical geography).
The question, “what is geography?” arises in our mind and the attempt of defining it was taken by many famous geographers. Their concepts have also changed with the change of ages. Some of their ideas are given below:
- Yi-Fu Tuan (1991)- “Geography is the study of earth as the home of people.”
- J.O.M. Broek (1965)- “To understand the earth as the world of man.”
- Richard Hartshorne (1959)- “To provide accurate, orderly, and rational description and interpretation of the variable character of the earth surface.”
- Ellen Semple, c. (1911)- “How environment apparently controls human behavior.”
- Alexander von Humboldt (1845): “Synthesizing discipline to connect the general with the special through measurement, mapping, and a regional emphasis.”
- Immanuel Kant, c. (1780)- “Synoptic discipline synthesizing findings of other sciences through the concept of Raum (area or space).”
Geography helps us to know about new places, countries and regions even to know about planets.
Branches of Geography: Beside the term “what is geography?” students have interest about the branches of it. Basically, geography is divided into two main parts. They are: i) Physical Geography and ii) Human Geography (cultural geography).
Physical Geography: Physical geography is one of the main parts of geogrpahy. The subjects that physical geography studies are natural elements like land, air, water, animals etc. In a nutshell, it deals with everything that the four spheres (the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere) include. Landscapes at the surface of the earth are the main focus of physical geography.
Human Geography: Human geography is the another main part of geography. The major difference of human geography from physical geography is that it mainly focuses on the activities of human being like culture, food, agriculture, population, religion, economies, politics etc. It also discusses their relation with place and space.
This is all about ”what is geography?”