Geography Geography Geography is the science that studies the lands features

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Geography Geography Geography is the science that studies the lands features Powered By Docstoc

Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants,
and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or
write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography"
was Eratosthenes (276-194 BC). Four historical traditions in
geographical research are the spatial analysis of natural and human
phenomena (geography as a study of distribution), area studies (places
and regions), study of man-land relationship, and research in earth
sciences. Nonetheless, modern geography is an all-encompassing
discipline that foremost seeks to understand the Earth and all of its
human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but
how they have changed and come to be. Geography has been called
"the world discipline" and "the bridge between the human and the
physical science". Geography is divided into two main branches: human
geography and physical geography.


Traditionally, geographers have been viewed the same way as
cartographers and people who study place names and numbers.
Although many geographers are trained in toponymy and cartology, this
is not their main preoccupation. Geographers study the spatial and
temporal distribution of phenomena, processes and features as well as
the interaction of humans and their environment.[7] As space and place
affect a variety of topics such as economics, health, climate, plants and
animals; geography is highly interdisciplinary.

“ ...mere names of places...are not geography...know by heart a
  whole gazetteer full of them would not, in itself, constitute         ”
   anyone a geographer. Geography has higher aims than this: it
   seeks to classify phenomena (alike of the natural and of the
   political world, in so far as it treats of the latter), to compare, to
   generalize, to ascend from effects to causes, and, in doing so, to
   trace out the laws of nature and to mark their influences upon
   man. This is 'a description of the world'—that is Geography. In a
   word Geography is a Science—a thing not of mere names but of
   argument and reason, of cause and effect.[8]
                                               — William Hughes, 1863

Geography as a discipline can be split broadly into two main subsidiary
fields: human geography and physical geography. The former largely
focuses on the built environment and how humans create, view, manage,
and influence space. The latter examines the natural environment and
how organisms, climate, soil, water, and landforms produce and
interact.[9] The difference between these approaches led to a third field,
environmental geography, which combines physical and human
geography and looks at the interactions between the environment and


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 issues of :
lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, pedosphere, and global flora and
fauna patterns (biosphere).

   Physical geography can be divided into many broad categories,
                  Climatology &    Coastal      Environmental
                   Meteorology    geography      management

                                                Hydrology &
     Geodesy     Geomorphology    Glaciology

                  Oceanography    Pedology     Palaeogeography


Human geography

Main article: 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
human, political, cultural, social, and economic aspects.

Human geography can be divided into many broad categories, such

       Cultural       Development         Economic
      geography        geography          geography

      Historical &   Political geog. &   Pop. geog. or    Religion
      Time geog.       Geopolitics       Demography      geography

        Social        Transportation        Urban
      geography         geography         geography

Various approaches to the study of human geography have also arisen
through time and include:

      Behavioral geography
      Feminist geography
      Culture theory
     Geosophy

Integrated geography

Main article: Integrated geography

Integrated geography is the branch of geography that describes the
spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It
requires an understanding of the traditional aspects of physical and
human geography, as well as the ways in which human societies
conceptualize the environment.

Integrated geography has emerged as a bridge between human and
physical geography as a result of the increasing specialisation of the two
sub-fields. Furthermore, as human relationship with the environment has
changed as a result of globalization and technological change a new
approach was needed to understand the changing and dynamic
relationship. Examples of areas of research in environmental geography
include emergency management, environmental management,
sustainability, and political ecology.


Main article: Geomatics

Digital Elevation Model (DEM)
Geomatics is a branch of geography that has emerged since the
quantitative revolution in geography in the mid 1950s. Geomatics
involves the use of traditional spatial techniques used in cartography and
topography and their application to computers. Geomatics has become a
widespread field with many other disciplines using techniques such as
GIS and remote sensing. Geomatics has also led to a revitalization of
some geography departments especially in Northern America where the
subject had a declining status during the 1950s.

Geomatics encompasses a large area of fields involved with spatial
analysis, such as Cartography, Geographic information systems (GIS),
Remote sensing, and Global positioning systems (GPS).

Regional geography

Main article: Regional geography

Regional geography is a branch of geography that studies the regions of
all sizes across the Earth. It has a prevailing descriptive character. The
main aim is to understand or define the uniqueness or character of a
particular region which consists of natural as well as human elements.
Attention is paid also to regionalization which covers the proper
techniques of space delimitation into regions.

Regional geography is also considered as a certain approach to study in
geographical sciences (similar to quantitative or critical geographies, for
more information see History of geography).

Related fields

     Urban planning, regional planning and spatial planning: use the
      science of geography to assist in determining how to develop (or
      not develop) the land to meet particular criteria, such as safety,
      beauty, economic opportunities, the preservation of the built or
      natural heritage, and so on. The planning of towns, cities, and rural
      areas may be seen as applied geography.
     Regional science: In the 1950s the regional science movement led
      by Walter Isard arose, to provide a more quantitative and analytical
      base to geographical questions, in contrast to the descriptive
      tendencies of traditional geography programs. Regional science
      comprises the body of knowledge in which the spatial dimension
      plays a fundamental role, such as regional economics, resource
      management, location theory, urban and regional planning,
      transport and communication, human geography, population
      distribution, landscape ecology, and environmental quality.
     Interplanetary Sciences: While the discipline of geography is
      normally concerned with the Earth, the term can also be informally
      used to describe the study of other worlds, such as the planets of
      the Solar System and even beyond. The study of systems larger
      than the earth itself usually forms part of Astronomy or
      Cosmology. The study of other planets is usually called planetary
      science. Alternative terms such as Areology (the study of Mars)
      have been proposed, but are not widely used.


As spatial interrelationships are key to this synoptic science, maps are a
key tool. Classical cartography has been joined by a more modern
approach to geographical analysis, computer-based geographic
information systems (GIS).

In their study, geographers use four interrelated approaches:

     Systematic — Groups geographical knowledge into categories that
      can be explored globally.
     Regional — Examines systematic relationships between categories
      for a specific region or location on the planet.
     Descriptive — Simply specifies the locations of features and
     Analytical — Asks why we find features and populations in a
      specific geographic area.

James Cook's 1770 chart of New Zealand.
Main article: Cartography

Cartography studies the representation of the Earth's surface with
abstract symbols (map making). Although other subdisciplines of
geography rely on maps for presenting their analyses, the actual making
of maps is abstract enough to be regarded separately. Cartography has
grown from a collection of drafting techniques into an actual science.

Cartographers must learn cognitive psychology and ergonomics to
understand which symbols convey information about the Earth most
effectively, and behavioral psychology to induce the readers of their
maps to act on the information. They must learn geodesy and fairly
advanced mathematics to understand how the shape of the Earth affects
the distortion of map symbols projected onto a flat surface for viewing.
It can be said, without much controversy, that cartography is the seed
from which the larger field of geography grew. Most geographers will
cite a childhood fascination with maps as an early sign they would end
up in the field.

Geographic information systems
Main article: Geographic information system

Geographic information systems (GIS) deal with the storage of
information about the Earth for automatic retrieval by a computer, in an
accurate manner appropriate to the information's purpose. In addition to
all of the other subdisciplines of geography, GIS specialists must
understand computer science and database systems. GIS has
revolutionized the field of cartography; nearly all mapmaking is now
done with the assistance of some form of GIS software. GIS also refers
to the science of using GIS software and GIS techniques to represent,
analyze and predict spatial relationships. In this context, GIS stands for
Geographic Information Science.

Remote sensing

Main article: Remote sensing

Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about Earth
features from measurements made at a distance. Remotely sensed data
comes in many forms such as satellite imagery, aerial photography and
data obtained from hand-held sensors. Geographers increasingly use
remotely sensed data to obtain information about the Earth's land
surface, ocean and atmosphere because it: a) supplies objective
information at a variety of spatial scales (local to global), b) provides a
synoptic view of the area of interest, c) allows access to distant and/or
inaccessible sites, d) provides spectral information outside the visible
portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, and e) facilitates studies of how
features/areas change over time. Remotely sensed data may be analyzed
either independently of, or in conjunction with, other digital data layers
(e.g., in a Geographic Information System).

Quantitative methods

Main article: Geostatistics
Geostatistics deal with quantitative data analysis, specifically the
application of statistical methodology to the exploration of geographic
phenomena. Geostatistics is used extensively in a variety of fields
including: hydrology, geology, petroleum exploration, weather analysis,
urban planning, logistics, and epidemiology. The mathematical basis for
geostatistics derives from cluster analysis, linear discriminant analysis
and non-parametric statistical tests, and a variety of other subjects.
Applications of geostatistics rely heavily on geographic information
systems, particularly for the interpolation (estimate) of unmeasured
points. Geographers are making notable contributions to the method of
quantitative techniques.

Qualitative methods

Main article: Ethnography

Geographic qualitative methods, or ethnographical; research techniques,
are used by human geographers. In cultural geography there is a
tradition of employing qualitative research techniques also used in
anthropology and sociology. Participant observation and in-depth
interviews provide human geographers with qualitative data.


Main article: History of geography


          History of geography

       Graeco-Roman
       Chinese
       Islamic
       Age of Discovery
       History of cartography
       Environmental determinism
       Regional geography
       Quantitative revolution
       Critical geography

The oldest known world maps date back to ancient Babylon from the 9th
century BC.[10] The best known Babylonian world map, however, is the
Imago Mundi of 600 BC.[11] The map as reconstructed by Eckhard
Unger shows Babylon on the Euphrates, surrounded by a circular
landmass showing Assyria, Urartu[12] and several cities, in turn
surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with seven islands arranged
around it so as to form a seven-pointed star. The accompanying text
mentions seven outer regions beyond the encircling ocean. The
descriptions of five of them have survived.[13] In contrast to the Imago
Mundi, an earlier Babylonian world map dating back to the 9th century
BC depicted Babylon as being further north from the center of the world,
though it is not certain what that center was supposed to represent.[10]

The ideas of Anaximander (c. 610 BC-c. 545 BC), considered by later
Greek writers to be the true founder of geography, come to us through
fragments quoted by his successors. Anaximander is credited with the
invention of the gnomon,the simple yet efficient Greek instrument that
allowed the early measurement of latitude. Thales, Anaximander is also
credited with the prediction of eclipses. The foundations of geography
can be traced to the ancient cultures, such as the ancient, medieval, and
early modern Chinese. The Greeks, who were the first to explore
geography as both art and science, achieved this through Cartography,
Philosophy, and Literature, or through Mathematics. There is some
debate about who was the first person to assert that the Earth is spherical
in shape, with the credit going either to Parmenides or Pythagoras.
Anaxagoras was able to demonstrate that the profile of the Earth was
circular by explaining eclipses. However, he still believed that the Earth
was a flat disk, as did many of his contemporaries. One of the first
estimates of the radius of the Earth was made by Eratosthenes.[14]

The first rigorous system of latitude and longitude lines is credited to
Hipparchus. He employed a sexagesimal system that was derived from
Babylonian mathematics. The parallels and meridians were sub-divided
into 360°, with each degree further subdivided 60′ (minutes). To
measure the longitude at different location on Earth, he suggested using
eclipses to determine the relative difference in time.[15] The extensive
mapping by the Romans as they explored new lands would later provide
a high level of information for Ptolemy to construct detailed atlases. He
extended the work of Hipparchus, using a grid system on his maps and
adopting a length of 56.5 miles for a degree.[16]

From the 3rd century onwards, Chinese methods of geographical study
and writing of geographical literature became much more complex than
what was found in Europe at the time (until the 13th century).[17]
Chinese geographers such as Liu An, Pei Xiu, Jia Dan, Shen Kuo, Fan
Chengda, Zhou Daguan, and Xu Xiake wrote important treatises, yet by
the 17th century, advanced ideas and methods of Western-style
geography were adopted in China.

The Ptolemy world map, reconstituted from Ptolemy's Geographia,
written c. 150.
During the Middle Ages, the fall of the Roman empire led to a shift in
the evolution of geography from Europe to the Islamic world.[17] Muslim
geographers such as Muhammad al-Idrisi produced detailed world maps
(such as Tabula Rogeriana), while other geographers such as Yaqut al-
Hamawi, Abu Rayhan Biruni, Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldun provided
detailed accounts of their journeys and the geography of the regions they
visited. Turkish geographer, Mahmud al-Kashgari drew a world map on
a linguistic basis, and later so did Piri Reis (Piri Reis map). Further,
Islamic scholars translated and interpreted the earlier works of the
Romans and Greeks and established the House of Wisdom in Baghdad
for this purpose.[18] Abū Zayd al-Balkhī, originally from Balkh, founded
the "Balkhī school" of terrestrial mapping in Baghdad.[19] Suhrāb, a late
tenth century Muslim geographer, accompanied a book of geographical
coordinates with instructions for making a rectangular world map, with
equirectangular projection or cylindrical equidistant
projection.[19][verification needed]

Abu Rayhan Biruni (976-1048) first described a polar equi-azimuthal
equidistant projection of the celestial sphere.[20][verification needed] He was
regarded as the most skilled when it came to mapping cities and
measuring the distances between them, which he did for many cities in
the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. He often combined
astronomical readings and mathematical equations, in order to develop
methods of pin-pointing locations by recording degrees of latitude and
longitude. He also developed similar techniques when it came to
measuring the heights of mountains, depths of valleys, and expanse of
the horizon. He also discussed human geography and the planetary
habitability of the Earth. He also calculated the latitude of Kath,
Khwarezm, using the maximum altitude of the Sun, and solved a
complex geodesic equation in order to accurately compute the Earth's
circumference, which were close to modern values of the Earth's
circumference.[21] His estimate of 6,339.9 km for the Earth radius was
only 16.8 km less than the modern value of 6,356.7 km. In contrast to
his predecessors who measured the Earth's circumference by sighting the
Sun simultaneously from two different locations, al-Biruni developed a
new method of using trigonometric calculations based on the angle
between a plain and mountain top which yielded more accurate
measurements of the Earth's circumference and made it possible for it to
be measured by a single person from a single location.[22][verification needed]

Self portrait of Alexander von Humboldt, one of the early pioneers of

The European Age of Discovery during the 16th and 17th centuries,
where many new lands were discovered and accounts by European
explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo and James Cook,
revived a desire for both accurate geographic detail, and more solid
theoretical foundations in Europe. The problem facing both explorers
and geographers was finding the latitude and longitude of a geographic
location. The problem of latitude was solved long ago but that of
longitude remained; agreeing on what zero meridian should be was only
part of the problem. It was left to John Harrison to solve it by inventing
the chronometer H-4, in 1760, and later in 1884 for the International
Meridian Conference to adopt by convention the Greenwich meridian as
zero meridian.[23]

The 18th and 19th centuries were the times when geography became
recognized as a discrete academic discipline and became part of a typical
university curriculum in Europe (especially Paris and Berlin). The
development of many geographic societies also occurred during the 19th
century with the foundations of the Société de Géographie in 1821,[24]
the Royal Geographical Society in 1830,[25] Russian Geographical
Society in 1845,[26] American Geographical Society in 1851,[27] and the
National Geographic Society in 1888.[28] The influence of Immanuel
Kant, Alexander von Humboldt, Carl Ritter and Paul Vidal de la Blache
can be seen as a major turning point in geography from a philosophy to
an academic subject.

Over the past two centuries the advancements in technology such as
computers, have led to the development of geomatics and new practices
such as participant observation and geostatistics being incorporated into
geography's portfolio of tools. In the West during the 20th century, the
discipline of geography went through four major phases: environmental
determinism, regional geography, the quantitative revolution, and
critical geography. The strong interdisciplinary links between geography
and the sciences of geology and botany, as well as economics, sociology
and demographics have also grown greatly especially as a result of Earth
System Science that seeks to understand the world in a holistic view.

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