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Geography as study discipline

The word Geography is derived from Latin word Geographia, which means to describe the earth’s surface. Geography is the systematic study of the depiction, circulation, and interface of the miscellaneous physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface. There are numerous definitions of Geography. Most learners thinks, Geography is about memorizing, locations of different places, states, countries, mountains, and rivers etc on earth. In fact geography is much much more than this. Geography strives to answer three questions, where? Why there? And Why do we care? Geography helps us in understanding the world.

In the words of RL Johnson 'Without geography, knowledge about the earth is fragmented and unsatisfactory.'

The study of geography starts right from home and broadens with the growth in age and those who chose geography as a study discipline gains deeper knowledge about the world. Geography grants conceptual linkage for children between home, school and world beyond. A person who studies Geography is called Geographer. A geographer knows how people of different locations on earth interact with each other vis-à-vis the environment. Since geography deals with how and where about masses, it is always rich in facts and figures suitable for understanding international relations of course geographical, multicultural issues and environment.

Geography as a tool helps us to understand about the world. Geographer uses different tools like map, statistical information, and many other wide-ranging data to understand the world. The most ultimate tool of Geographers is map. Geographers also use their own interpretation and those of others found in sources such as descriptive geography texts, histories, diaries, and journals.


Geography comprises following branches of study-

Physical geography- Also called physiogeography studies about the earth sciences. Further this branch of geography can be subdivided into following study areas- Biogeography, Climatology & paleoclimatology, Coastal geography, Env. geog. & management, Geodesy, Geomorphology, Glaciology, Hydrology & Hydrography, Landscape ecology, Oceanography, Pedology, Palaeogeography, Quaternary science

Human geography- Under this branch of geography we study outlines and procedures which shape human communication with a variety of environments. This branch of Geography comprises following sub fields of study- Cultural geography, Development geography, Economic geography, Health geography, Historical & Time geog., Political geog. & Geopolitics, Pop. geog. or Demography, Religion geography, Social geography, Transportation geography, Tourism geography, Urban geography.


Environmental geography- This branch of Geography establishes relation between physical and human geography. Following are the some sub fields of study that emerges from Environmental geography- emergency management, environmental management, sustainability, and political ecology

Geomatics- This branch of Geography emerges in 1950. This comprises the utilization of old spatial techniques used in Cartography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote sensing, and Global positioning systems (GPS) and Topography and their application to computers.

Regional geography- his branch of Geography studies regions of all sizes across the earth. The principal purpose of this branch is to understand the uniqueness of a given region consisting natural and human elements. Special focus is given to regionalization that covers the proper techniques of space delimitation into the regions. This branch of Geography is also supposed as a definite approach to study in geographical sciences.

Besides above four main fields Geography has following related sub fields-

Urban planning, regional planning and spatial planning; Regional science; Interplanetary Sciences

Geography has rich past associated with it. The Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610 B.C.-c. 545 B.C.) is considered as Founder Of Geography. Following is given a list of some notable geographers from around the world with their work-


    * Eratosthenes (276BC - 194BC) - calculated the size of the Earth.
    * Ptolemy (c.90–c.168) - compiled Greek and Roman knowledge into the book Geographia.
    * Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594) - innovative cartographer produced the mercator projection
    * Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) - Considered Father of modern geography, published the Kosmos and founder of the sub-field biogeography.
    * Carl Ritter (1779-1859) - Considered Father of modern geography. Occupied the first chair of geography at Berlin University.
    * Arnold Henry Guyot (1807-1884) - noted the structure of glaciers and advanced understanding in glacier motion, especially in fast ice flow.
    * William Morris Davis (1850-1934) - father of American geography and developer of the cycle of erosion.
    * Paul Vidal de la Blache (1845-1918) - founder of the French school of geopolitics and wrote the principles of human geography.
    * Sir Halford John Mackinder (1861-1947) - Co-founder of the LSE, Geographical Association
    * Walter Christaller (1893-1969) - human geographer and inventor of Central Place Theory.
    * Yi-Fu Tuan (1930-) - Chinese-American scholar credited with starting Humanistic Geography as a discipline.
    * David Harvey (1935-) - Marxist geographer and author of theories on spatial and urban geography.
    * Edward Soja (born 1941) - Noted for his work on regional development, planning and governance along with coining the terms Synekism and Postmetropolis.
    * Michael Frank Goodchild (1944-) - prominent GIS scholar and winner of the RGS founder's medal in 2003.
    * Doreen Massey (1944-) - Key scholar in the space and places of globalization and its pluralities, winner of the Vautrin Lud Prize.
    * Nigel Thrift (1949-) - originator of non-representational theory.


In academic settings geography is taught right from primary school level. In Indian school curriculum geography is taught as compulsory subject till the completion of class 10th level. Further student who chose to study humanities in class 11th onwards study Geography as a subject. In university settings geography is taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Degrees like Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy etc are awarded. In the past decades Geography was most preferred subject among Civil Services Aspirants and still it is. A geography pass out may work with different government and private agencies in different capacities. Geographers make one of the most respectable segments of human society.

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