The word ‘geography’ originates from two Greek words.
The first is ‘geo’ which means ‘the earth’ and the second Greek word is “graph” which means ‘to write’.
Therefore, Geography is the science that deals with the description of the Earth’s surface.
Those that study geography are divided into two main areas: Physical geography & Human geography.
The first recorded use of the word geography was by Eratosthenes, a Greek scholar who lived from 276–194 BC who is credited with creating the discipline of geography (Eratosthenes’ Geography.
Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) a great Greek philosopher and mathematician, was the first to say that the Earth is spherical and revolves around the sun.
Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 425 BC) Greek historian is known as the “Father of history”. He explained the deposition of silt in the Nile delta.
Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) Greek philosopher explained the eclipses.
Eratosthenes (276 – 194 B.C.) First person to calculate the circumference of the Earth, which he did by comparing angles of the mid-day Sun at Syene and at Alexandria.
Hipparchus (190 – 120 B.C.) He was the greatest of the Greek astronomers.
Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.) He wrote the book ‘Geography’ and he described system of latitudes and longitudes. He was a cartographer and he evolved the science of map-making.
MODERN TIME GEOGRAPHERS
Bernhardus Varenius (1622-1650)
German geographer. First recognised the need for organisation of geographical knowledge. He wrote Geographia Generalis, the most highly regarded treatise on geography for more than a century into two – part – general (now called systematic) and special (also called regional) which identified regions according to the interactions between human & Env. process.
Immanual Kant (1724-1804)
In his book Universal Natural History, Kant laid out the Nebular hypothesis, in which he deduced that the Solar System had formed from a large cloud of gas, a nebula.
Alexander Von Humboldt (1769-1859)
A German naturalist and explorer, moulded the substance of geography into a scientific form. He invented the “isotherms” to compare temperatures.
Carl Ritter (1779-1859)
German geographer, founder of modern geographic study.
His most important work Die Erdkunde (Earth Science) emphasized the influence of physical environment on human activity. He divided the Earth into natural regions and showed each unit as a whole interrelated complex of elements. His plan of study became the model for regional study and presentation.
Ellsworth Huntington (1876-1947)
American geographer and explorer, was noted particularly for his study of the effects of climate on human heredity and civilization. His approach to geographic study is known as determinism in which humans are passive agents while the physical environment is active.
Vidal de la Blache (1845-1918)
Vidal de la Blache advocated the opposite theory of determinism, which is sometimes known as possibilism, in which humans are active agents, at liberty to choose between a wide range in environmental possibilities.
Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment, and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people. Geography seeks to understand where things are found, why they are there, and how they develop and change over time.
Every point on Earth has a location. Location can be described in two different ways:
Absolute location, a location as described by its latitude and longitude on the Earth. For example, the coordinates of Albany, New York are 42.6525° N, 73.7572° W.
Relative location, a location as described by where it is compared to something else. For example, Albany, New York is roughly 140 miles north of New York City.
A place is an area that is defined by everything in it. All places have features that give them personality and distinguish them from other places
Toponym: a place name, especially one derived from a topographical feature.
Site: an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed.
Situation: the location and surroundings of a place.
Population: the number of people that live in the area.
This theme describes how people interact with the environment, and how the environment responds, with three key concepts:
Movement is the travel of people, goods, and ideas from one location to another, or political events. Examples of movement include the United States’ westward expansion, the Information Revolution, and immigration. New devices such as the airplane and the Internet allow physical and ideological goods to be transferred long distances in short time intervals. A person’s travel from place to place, and the actions they perform there are also considered movement.
Regions are areas with distinctive characteristics: human characteristics, such as demographics or politics, and physical characteristics, such as climate and vegetation. For example, the US is a political region because it shares one governmental system.
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: