Definition of Geography - Meaning, Scope and Type

Definition of geography



Geography is a scientific field that devoted is to the study of the earth’s landform, ocean, environment and ecosystem. It also studies the relationship between men and their environments.

The term 'Geography' was coined by an Ancient Greek scholar Eratosthenes in 234 B.C .The word 'geography' originates from two Greek words,  'Geo' which means the earth and  'Graphe' Which means study or description. The literal meaning of geography is 'description of the earth’s surface'. But modern geography has not remained confined to only the description of earth`s surface, rather its dimensions have expanded very much beyond more description. 

In other words, Geography is largely the study of the interaction of all physical and human phenomena and landscapes created by such interactions. Geography is very general in nature and does not specify what is to written or described the earth which is full of innumerable things of the diverse nature.

Definition of geography | Eratosthene's world map


Definition of geography:

The word 'Definition of Geography' is very vast. The subject of geography has been defined differently by different geographers and philosophers from time to time according to the aims of the study and prevalent methodology. The followings are some definitions of geography forward by many geographers.

According to Richard Hartshorne, "Geography is concern to provide accurate orderly and regional description and interpretation of variable character of the earth surface."

In the words of H. Barrows, ''Geography is Human Ecology.''

In the opinion of Ackerman, "Geography is the study of spatial description and spaced relation on the earth surface."

It is cleared from the above definitions of Geography that Modern geography deals with the study of earth`s Physical features such as Plains, Mountains, Hills, Rivers etc. both natural and anthropogenic, its inhabitants, various processes and principles influencing these features and different kinds of relationships in spatial context. Geography helps us to understand the differences in patterns, phenomena and the processes, interrelationship between human society and the physical environment and utilization of the earth's surface by the man in spatio-temporal context.


Scope of Geography:

The scope of geography is very vast. The scope has grown up of its descriptive character. Now-a-days an attempt is being made to establish a cause and effect relationship between various factors of geography.

Geography is the science of all sciences. It involves the study of physical as well as social sciences. It is taken as an arch of physical and social sciences.

In its scope, it ranges from the physical sciences of Astronomy, climatology, Geology through natural histories of Botany and Zoology to the human studies of Anthropology, Ethnology, Sociology and History.

Geography has now acquired the status of science that explains the arrangements of various natural and cultural features on the earth surface. Geography is a holistic and interdisciplinary field of study engaged in understanding the changing spatial structure from the past to the future. 

Thus, the scope of geography is in various disciplines, like armed services, environmental management, water resources, disaster management, meteorology and planning and various social sciences. Apart from that, a geographer can help in day to day life like tourism, commuting, housing and health-related activities.

The physical environment in relation to human activities, as well as social and political activities of the man, studied in this subject. From the point of view of subject matter, various departments are studied in geography physical geography, human geography, economic geography, political geography, historical geography, social geography, medical geography etc. These are departments and aspects of geography.


Branches of Geography:

Geography can be regarded as an interdisciplinary science. The subject encompasses an interdisciplinary perspective that allows the observation and analysis of anything distributed in Earth space and the development of solutions to problems based on such analysis. The discipline of geography can be divided into several branches of study. The primary classification of geography divides the approach to the subject into the two broad categories of physical geography and human geography.

Type of geography


Physical geography :

Physical geography is concerned with the study and explanation of physical phenomena, encompassing the other such fields like geology, meteorology, zoology and chemistry. It became a very popular subject during the latter part of the nineteen century. It has a number of sub-branches which treat a different kind of physical phenomena.

  • Geomorphology: It is concerned with the study of the landforms on the Earth's surface. It includes origin and development of landforms through erosional, transportation and depositional processes of water, wind and glaciers.

    • Climatology: Climatology is the study of the atmospheric conditions and related climatic and weather phenomena. It includes the study of atmospheric composition, climatic regions, seasons, etc.

      • Oceanography: It is concerned with the study of various types of Oceanic format component and processes related to ocean floor depths, currents, corals reefs, and continental drifts etc.

        • Bio-geography: It is concerned with the biological phenomena in space, especially in terms of the distribution of various kinds of floral and faunal species. Biogeography may be sub-divided into the plant or floral geography, animals or faunal geography, and human ecology.

        Read Also: Physical Geography - Meaning, scope and Type 

        Human Geography:

        Human Geography is the synthetic study of the relationship between human societies and the earth’s surface. It is made up of three closely linked components: the spatial analysis of the human population; the ecological analysis of the relation between human population and its environment and the regional synthesis which combines the first two themes in an aerial differentiation of the earth’s surface. Human geography has a number of sub-branches.

        • Social geography: Social geography deals with the study of human society and the social phenomenon in spatial context. A social geographer focuses on the study of the spatial arrangement of social phenomena in relation to the total environment. It is the analysis of social phenomena in space. Poverty, health, education, livelihood are some important fields of study in social geography.

          • Population geography: It is the study of various dimensions of the population like its population distribution, density, composition, fertility, mortality, migration etc. It is also concerned with the study of factors affecting population growth, distribution, density, composition etc. 

            • Political geography: Political geography is concerned with the study of political units i.e. states and nations in relation to their geographical settings.

              • Medical geography: Medical geography is a recent development in the field of Social geography. It deals with the study of various diseases and their geographical causes, diffusion of various diseases and the role of geography, the spatial distribution of the healthcare system.

                • Historical geography: The branch of social geography which is concerned with the past is called historical geography. The two main aspects of the field are (a) reconstruction of past environments at a particular point of time, and (b) the study of the sequence of changes that take place with the passage of time at a place.

                  • Anthropogeography: It largely deals with racial phenomena in their spatial context.

                    • Economic Geography: This branch of human geography deals with the location and distribution of economic activities at the local, regional, national and world scale, spatial variations in the economic activities and the different ways in which wealth is produced, distributed, exchanged and consumed. In this branch a detailed study of various human occupations like agriculture, manufacturing of goods, means of communication and transport etc. are taken up.

                      • Agricultural Geography: Agricultural geography deals with the study of agricultural activities of man. It studies the spatial variations of agricultural activities over the surface of the earth and the influence of geographical factors on agriculture.

                        • Cultural GeographyCultural geography deals with the study of various cultural aspects of man such as his clothing, housing, tools, language, religion, food habits and their variations in time and space. It also deeply analyses the impact of geographical settings on human culture and the impact of human culture on the physical environment or geographical settings in a particular region.


                          Read Also: Human Geography - Meaning, scope and Type 


                          Thus, it has been seen that the scope of geography can’t unit within a small territory; many new branches are imagining into the scope of geography with the increases of various human activities.

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