an academic discipline – a body of knowledge given to − or received by − a disciple (student); a branch or sphere of knowledge, or field of study, that an individual has chosen to specialize in. Modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that 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'.
a field of science – widely recognized category of specialized expertise within science, and typically embodies its own terminology and nomenclature. Such a field will usually be represented by one or more scientific journals, where peer reviewed research is published. There are many geography-related scientific journals.
a natural science – field of academic scholarship that explores aspects of natural environment (physical geography).
a social science – field of academic scholarship that explores aspects of human society (human geography).
an interdisciplinary field – a field that crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought, as new needs and professions have emerged. Many of the branches of physical geography are also branches of Earth science.
Branches of geography
As "the bridge between the human and physical sciences," geography is divided into two main branches:
Physical geography – examines the natural environment and how the climate, vegetation & life, soil, water, and landforms are produced and interact.
Fields of physical geography
Geomorphology – study of landforms and the processes that them, and more broadly, of the processes controlling the topography of any planet. Seeks to understand why landscapes look the way they do, to understand landform history and dynamics, and to predict future changes through a combination of field observation, physical experiment, and numerical modeling.
Hydrology – study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water throughout the Earth, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability.
Glaciology – study of glaciers, or more generally ice and natural phenomena that involve ice.
Oceanography – studies a wide range of topics pertaining to oceans, including marine organisms and ecosystem dynamics; ocean currents, waves, and geophysical fluid dynamics; plate tectonics and the geology of the sea floor; and fluxes of various chemical substances and physical properties within the ocean and across its boundaries.
Biogeography – study of the distribution of species spatially and temporally. Over areal ecological changes, it is also tied to the concepts of species and their past, or present living 'refugium', their survival locales, or their interim living sites. It aims to reveal where organisms live, and at what abundance.
Palaeogeography – study of what the geography was in times past, most often concerning the physical landscape, but also the human or cultural environment.
Coastal geography – study of the dynamic interface between the ocean and the land, incorporating both the physical geography (i.e. coastal geomorphology, geology and oceanography) and the human geography (sociology and history) of the coast. It involves an understanding of coastal weathering processes, particularly wave action, sediment movement and weather, and also the ways in which humans interact with the coast.
Quaternary science – focuses on the Quaternary period, which encompasses the last 2.6 million years, including the last ice age and the Holocene period.
Landscape ecology – the relationship between spatial patterns of urban development and ecological processes on a multitude of landscape scales and organizational levels.
Human geography – one of the two main subfields of geography, it is the study of human use and understanding of the world and the processes which have affected it. Human geography broadly differs from physical geography in that it focuses on the built environment and how space is created, viewed, and managed by humans as well as the influence humans have on the space they occupy.
Fields of human geography
Cultural geography – study of cultural products and norms and their variations across and relations to spaces and places. It focuses on describing and analyzing the ways language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena vary or remain constant, from one place to another and on explaining how humans function spatially.
Children's geographies – study of places and spaces of children's lives, characterized experientially, politically and ethically. Children's geographies rests on the idea that children as a social group share certain characteristics which are experientially, politically and ethically significant and which are worthy of study. The pluralisation in the title is intended to imply that children's lives will be markedly different in differing times and places and in differing circumstances such as gender, family, and class. The range of focii within children's geographies include:
Animal geographies – studies the spaces and places occupied by animals in human culture, because social life and space is heavily populated by animals of many differing kinds and in many differing ways (e.g. farm animals, pets, wild animals in the city). Another impetus that has influenced the development of the field are ecofeminist and other environmentalist viewpoints on nature-society relations (including questions of animal welfare and rights).
Language geography – studies the geographic distribution of language or its constituent elements. There are two principal fields of study within the geography of language:
Geography of languages – deals with the distribution through history and space of languages,
Sexuality and space – encompasses all relationships and interactions between human sexuality, space, and place, including the geographies of LGBT residence, public sex environments, sites of queer resistance, global sexualities, sex tourism, the geographies of prostitution and adult entertainment, use of sexualised locations in the arts, and sexual citizenship.
Development geography – study of the Earth's geography with reference to the standard of living and quality of life of its human inhabitants. Measures development by looking at economic, political and social factors, and seeks to understand both the geographical causes and consequences of varying development, in part by comparing More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) with Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs).
Economic geography – study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities across the world. Subjects of interest include but are not limited to the location of industries, economies of agglomeration (also known as "linkages"), transportation, international trade and development, real estate, gentrification, ethnic economies, gendered economies, core-periphery theory, the economics of urban form, the relationship between the environment and the economy (tying into a long history of geographers studying culture-environment interaction), and globalization.
Marketing geography – a discipline within marketing analysis which uses geolocation (geographic information) in the process of planning and implementation of marketing activities. It can be used in any aspect of the marketing mix – the product, price, promotion, or place (geo targeting).
Transportation geography – branch of economic geography that investigates spatial interactions between people, freight and information. It studies humans and their use of vehicles or other modes of traveling as well as how markets are serviced by flows of finished goods and raw materials.
Health geography – application of geographical information, perspectives, and methods to the study of health, disease, and health care, to provide a spatial understanding of a population's health, the distribution of disease in an area, and the environment's effect on health and disease. It also deals with accessibility to health care and spatial distribution of health care providers.
Time geography – study of the temporal factor on spatial human activities within the following constraints:
Authority - limits of accessibility to certain places or domains placed on individuals by owners or authorities
Capability - limitations on the movement of individuals, based on their nature. For example, movement is restricted by biological factors, such as the need for food, drink, and sleep
Coupling - restraint of an individual, anchoring him or her to a location while interacting with other individuals in order to complete a task
Historical geography – study of the human, physical, fictional, theoretical, and "real" geographies of the past, and seeks to determine how cultural features of various societies across the planet emerged and evolved, by understanding how a place or region changes through time, including how people have interacted with their environment and created the cultural landscape.
Political geography – study of the spatially uneven outcomes of political processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures. Basically, the inter-relationships between people, state, and territory.
Electoral geography – study of the relationship between election results and the regions they affect (such as the environmental impact of voting decisions), and of the effects of regional factors upon voting behavior.
Geopolitics – analysis of geography, history and social science with reference to spatial politics and patterns at various scales, ranging from the level of the state to international.
Strategic geography – concerned with the control of, or access to, spatial areas that affect the security and prosperity of nations.
Military geography – the application of geographic tools, information, and techniques to solve military problems in peacetime or war.
Population geography – study of the ways in which spatial variations in the distribution, composition, migration, and growth of populations are related to the nature of places.
Tourism geography – study of travel and tourism, as an industry and as a social and cultural activity, and their effect on places, including the environmental impact of tourism, the geographies of tourism and leisure economies, answering tourism industry and management concerns and the sociology of tourism and locations of tourism.
Urban geography – the study of urban areas, in terms of concentration, infrastructure, economy, and environmental impacts.
Approaches of human geography
Behavioral geography – An approach to human geography that examines human behavior using a disaggregate approach
Integrated geography – branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It requires an understanding of the dynamics of geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, ecology, and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment.
Geomatics – branch of geography and the discipline of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information. It is a widespread interdisciplinary field that includes the tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, cartography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Navigation Satellite Systems, photogrammetry, and related forms of earth mapping.
Navigation – process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another
Remote sensing – Acquisition of information at a significant distance from the subject
Surveying – The technique, profession, and science of determining the positions of points and the distances and angles between them
Regional geography – study of world regions. Attention is paid to unique characteristics of a particular region such as its natural elements, human elements, and regionalization which covers the techniques of delineating space into regions. Regional geography breaks down into the study of specific regions.
Region – an area, defined by physical characteristics, human characteristics, or functional characteristics. The term is used in various ways among the different branches of geography. A region can be seen as a collection of smaller units, such as a country and its political divisions, or as one part of a larger whole, as in a country on a continent.
Earth may have had a single supercontinent called "Pangaea"
Geography of Russia (Outline) (the following parts of Russia are in the North Caucasus: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Adyghea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay–Cherkessia, North Ossetia, Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai)
Exploration – The act of traveling and searching for resources or for information about the land or space itself
Geocode, also known as Geospatial Entity Object Code – Geospatial coordinate system for specifying the exact location of a geospatial point at, below, or above the surface of the earth at a given moment of time.
Lists of places – A list of Wikipedia's list articles of places on earth sorted by category
Natural geographic features
Natural geographic feature – an ecosystem or natural landform.
Ecosystem – community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows.
Biodiversity hotspot – A biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened with destruction
Ecozone – broadest biogeographic division of the Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial organisms.
Ecoprovince – biogeographic unit smaller than an ecozone that contains one or more ecoregions.
Ecoregion – Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion
Ecodistrict – Term used in urban planning to integrate objectives of sustainable development and reduce ecological impact
Natural landform – terrain or body of water. Landforms are topographical elements, and are defined by their surface form and location in the landscape. Landforms are categorized by traits such as elevation, slope, orientation, stratification, rock exposure, and soil type. Some landforms are artificial, such as certain islands, but most landforms are natural.
Natural terrain feature types
Continent – Very large landmass identified by convention
Island – Any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water
Mainland – The continental part of any polity or the main island within an island nation
Mountain – A large landform that rises fairly steeply above the surrounding land over a limited area
Mountain range – A geographic area containing several geologically related mountains
Subcontinent – A large, relatively self-contained landmass forming a subdivision of a continent
Natural body of water types
Natural bodies of water – Any significant accumulation of water, generally on a planet's surface
Mangrove swamp – A shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water
Artificial geographic features
Artificial geographic feature – a thing that was made by humans that may be indicated on a map. It may be physical and exist in the real world (like a bridge or city), or it may be abstract and exist only on maps (such as the Equator, which has a defined location, but cannot be seen where it lies).
Settlement – Community of any size, in which people live
Hamlet (place) – Small human settlement in a rural area – rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village. One example of a hamlet is a small cluster of houses surrounding a mill.
Village – Small clustered human settlement smaller than a town – clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand (sometimes tens of thousands).
Town – Settlement that is bigger than a village but smaller than a city – human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while many British "small towns" would qualify as cities in the United States.
City – Large and permanent human settlement – relatively large and permanent settlement. In many regions, a city is distinguished from a town by attainment of designation according to law, for instance being required to obtain articles of incorporation or a royal charter.
Primate city – the leading city in its country or region, disproportionately larger than any others in the urban hierarchy.
Metropolis – very large city or urban area which is a significant economic, political and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications.
Metropolitan area – region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing.
Global city – City which is important to the world economy – city that is deemed to be an important node in the global economic system. Globalization is largely created, facilitated and enacted in strategic geographic locales (including global cities) according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.
Megalopolis – chain of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas. An example is the huge metropolitan area along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. extending from Boston, Massachusetts through New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland and ending in Washington, D.C..
Eperopolis – theoretical "continent city". The world does not have one yet. Will Europe become the first one?
Ecumenopolis – theoretical "world city". Will the world ever become so urbanized as to be called this?
Artificial reef – A man-made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life, control erosion, block ship passage, block the use of trawling nets, or improve surfing
Airport – place where airplanes can take off and land, including one or more runways and one or more passenger terminals.
Aqueduct – artificial channel that is constructed to convey water from one location to another.
Breakwater – Structure constructed on coasts as part of coastal management or to protect an anchorage – construction designed to break the force of the sea to provide calm water for boats or ships, or to prevent erosion of a coastal feature.
Bridge – structure built to span physical obstacles – structure built to span a valley, road, body of water, or other physical obstacle such as a canyon, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle.
Building – closed structure with walls and a roof.
Canal – Man-made channel for water – artificial waterway, often connecting one body of water with another.
Dam – A barrier that stops or restricts the flow of surface or underground streams – structure placed across a flowing body of water to stop the flow, usually to use the water for irrigation or to generate electricity.
Dike – barrier of stone or earth used to hold back water and prevent flooding.
Levee – Ridge or wall to hold back water – artificial slope or wall to regulate water levels, usually earthen and often parallel to the course of a river or the coast.
Farm – place where agricultural activities take place, especially the growing of crops or the raising of livestock.
Manmade harbor – Sheltered body of water where ships may shelter – harbor that has deliberately constructed breakwaters, sea walls, or jettys, or which was constructed by dredging.
Special Economic Zone – A geographical region in which business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country
Country subdivision – A territorial entity for administration purposes – a designated territory created within a country for administrative or identification purposes. Examples of the types of country subdivisions:
Sir Nicholas Shackleton (1937–2006) – who demonstrated that oscillations in climate over the past few million years could be correlated with variations in the orbital and positional relationship between the Earth and the Sun.
Stefan Rahmstorf (born 1960) – professor of abrupt climate changes and author on theories of thermohaline dynamics.
Influential human geographers
Sketch of Carl Ritter
Paul Vidal de la Blache
Carl Ritter (1779–1859) – considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern geography and first chair in geography at the Humboldt University of Berlin, also noted for his use of organic analogy in his works.
Allen J. Scott (born 1938) – winner of Vautrin Lud Prize in 2003 and the Anders Retzius Gold medal 2009; author of numerous books and papers on economic and urban geography, known for his work on regional development, new industrial spaces, agglomeration theory, global city-regions and the cultural economy.
Edward Soja (born 1941) – noted for his work on regional development, planning and governance, along with coining the terms synekism and postmetropolis.
Gillian Rose (born 1962) – most famous for her critique: Feminism & Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge (1993) – which was one of the first moves towards a development of feminist geography.
Geography educational frameworks
Educational frameworks upon which primary and secondary school curricula for geography are based upon include:
^ ab"What is geography?". AAG Career Guide: Jobs in Geography and related Geographical Sciences. Association of American Geographers. Archived from the original on October 6, 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
^Scott, S. P. (1904). History of the Moorish Empire in Europe. p. 461. The compilation of Edrisi marks an era in the history of science. Not only is its historical information most interesting and valuable, but its descriptions of many parts of the earth are still authoritative. For three centuries geographers copied his maps without alteration. The relative position of the lakes which form the Nile, as delineated in his work, does not differ greatly from that established by Baker and Stanley more than seven hundred years afterwards, and their number is the same.
^Guidelines for Geographic Education—Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Joint Committee on Geographic Education of the National Council for Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers, 1984.
It focuses on what geography students should know to be competent and productive 21st century citizens, and uses three content areas for assessing the outcomes of geography education. These content areas are Space and Place, Environment and Society, and Spatial Dynamics and Connections.