“The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exists across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together.” -Barack Obama

Geography is the academic study of places and their relationships between people and their immediate environments; thanks National Geographic!

Geographers enjoy a fantastic career examining the unique characteristics of the earth and the beautiful people that call it home. 

It is important to state that the academic discipline of geography has many subdisciplines and subtopics. Today, we will discuss the geographic subsections of human geography, physical geography, and environmental geography along with the similar academic subject of cartography.

Get ready for a wild ride of exploring our beautiful planet!

Human Geography

studying geography and humans
In the most simple terms, human geography is the study of the human race. (Source: pixabay)

"History is a compass that you locate yourself on the map of human geography, politically, culturally, financially." -John Henrik Clarke

Human geography is an essential branch of the field of geography that considers essential geographic information such as the study of people, cultures, economies, and the interactions people have with the environment.

For everyone to better understand human geography, it can be defined in layman's terms as the study of the human race. 

Like all significant sectors of geography, human geography has various subsections that are worthy of consideration. The following are the most vital subbranches of human geography:

  • Economic Geography: those who specialise in a career reviewing economic geography focus their attention on the way products are produced and distributed. Also, it is essential to state that how wealth is distributed across the various regions of the planet is analysed by all economic geographers. Subject matters such as transportation, international trade, development, real estate, gendered economies, and globalisation are discussed to understand this subdiscipline better.
  • Population Geography: this subsection of human geography mainly deals with the demographic distribution of people in a specific country, city, town, or other geographic location. Often erroneously confused with demography, population geographers study the patterns of a group of people in connection to birth, marriage, and death, which is the case with demographers; however, population geography dives deeper into the subjects mentioned earlier and extracts more detail. It is important to state that many population geographers may spend their entire career researching a single community or region.
  • Medical Geography: Ebola, the zika virus, and the Asian flu; all are viruses or outbreaks that have affected millions and originate from a single location. Who researches these epidemics to discover their causes and origin? Medical geographers! The subdiscipline or medical geography involves the study in which particular diseases have spread. Charts, graphs, reports, and maps are created to show the correlation between geography and public health. A perfect career for medical examiners who want to get to the bottom of things!

There you have it, three of the most popular subsections of human geography to better understand the field of geography as a whole.

Did you know that there are five themes of geography? Check out our informative article.

Physical Geography

learning more about geography
A subtopic of physical geography is water resources geography; geographers ensure that modern technology to distribute water is used correctly. (Source: pixabay)

"Physical geography and geology are inseperable scientific twins." -Roderick Murchison

What is physical geography? Well, for starters, physical geography is a significant sub-discipline of greater academic subjects: geography and earth sciences.

Physical geography deals with the physical characteristics of the earth; this does not only refer to the earth's surface but what is under and around the exterior of the planet. 

Also referred to as geosystems or physiography, physical geography has many subunits that are studied by academic at a level of higher education.

Yes, you heard that correctly, there are subsections of an essential subtopic of geography. Don't fret, hold on tight while we consider the following most noteworthy subdisciplines of physical geography:

  • Biogeography: the result of the field of study of Alfred Russel Wallace, biogeography is a subunit of physical geography that examines the patterns of species distribution and the effects that occur from this process.
  • Water Resources Geography: this is the study of how water resources are distributed and divided in specific geographic locations. Water resource geographers have a profoundly important job since they study water systems developed by humans and enhance them to maximise the efficiency of water collection and distribution worldwide.
  • Climate Geography: an essential branch of physical geography that deals with the study of weather patterns and how they affect the overall climate of a country, continent, or another geographic region.
  • Geomorphology: a specific field that is focused on the study of the surface of the earth. A geomorphologist examines the intriguing ways in which planet earth was formed and the processes that land formations continuously go through.

The four above mentioned subsections of physical geography are just a crumb of all the fascinating concepts and fields of study considered in physical geography. Notable subtopics include hydrology, glaciology, meteorology, coastal geography, oceanography, orology, and potamology; that's a lot of ologies!

By taking some time to consider some of the honourable subdivisions of physical geography, an appreciation for geography and our beautiful earth are renewed.

Take a glance at our other articles that are about geography facts, a geography glossary, and famous geographers.

Environmental Geography

the state of the world
Solutions that are possible with environmental geography are needed in today's ailing world. (Source: pixabay)

"In our changing world nothing changes more than geography." -Pearl S. Buck

What is environmental geography?

Also known as integrated geography or human-environment geography, the essential topic of environmental geography is the study of spatial aspects between humans and their environment; the consequences of this interaction is also discussed to raise awareness and highlight a need for change.

An understanding of environmental geography and how our actions affect the planet are needed now more than ever.

Our world is sick, and the statistics demonstrate that climate change is a serious issue that is continuously worsening day by day.

The following are some of the branches of environmental geography that are considered by students reviewing this subdiscipline:

  • Hazards: some hazards, human-made natural blended and ecological disasters, include fire, drought, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, and tornados, to name a few. Why would researchers create these disasters? Simply put, to study the risk and try to determine solutions.
  • Political Ecology: while studying the topic of political ecology, environmental geographers incorporate political, economic, cultural, and social systems into the study of environmental change to determine the adverse effects humans are causing on the environment and what are the possible remedies.

Other intriguing subtopics of environmental or integrated geography include systems theory, environmental perception, Marxian environmental geography, and environmental governance.

It is important to state that environmental geography is not as complete as human or physical geography; however, it does not mean that it is of lesser importance. We need to know where we can improve and how we can save our planet before there is nothing left.

Don't have time for classes? Consider this geography crash course; it will be ideal for you.


making useful maps
Cartographers have been creating maps for centuries. (Source: pixabay)

"I've always been fascinated by maps and cartography. A map tells you where you've been, where you are, and where you're going -- in a sense it's three tenses in one." -Peter Greenaway

What is cartography?

Cartography is the study and practice of mapping or making maps; it can be referred to as a science and an art. The term cartography was determined in 1859 from the French word, carta (card) and the Greek word, graphie (write or draw).

Maps have played a key role for thousands of years in many societies around the world. 

Famous cartographers from history include the likes of Ptolemy, Eratosthenes, Al Idrisi, Fra Mauro, Nicolas de Fer, and Henry Pelham. Their written maps were used by many individuals for decades and have influenced modern-day cartographers to seek excellence.

The best and most accomplished cartographers know that a well-designed map must include the following geographical information:

  • Ease of use: no one wants to use a map that is difficult to follow or understand; therefore, experienced cartographers create plans that are accurate for their intended audience.
  • Clarity: everything must be orderly and well-labelled to avoid confusion.
  • Accuracy between the object and the map: the translation of physical space to a different medium such as paper or an electronic format should be recognisable.

Throughout the centuries, cartographers have adapted their methods to the various technological changes to ensure that people continue to use maps to find their way from one place to another; I firmly believe that my father would have loved to be a cartographer, I've never seen a person use Google Maps so much. Let's say he's never lost and always knows where he's going!

A budding cartographer studies the different types of maps such as city maps, contour maps, electronic maps, geologic maps, reversed maps, road atlas, topographic maps, and world maps. 

Considerable subtopics of cartography include celestial cartography and planetary cartography that can be studied by map lovers all over the world.

In conclusion, geography is more than just knowing where France, Australia, or Canada are; it's a layered yet fascinating academic subject that covers many essential aspects of our earth and the people residing on it. Follow in the footsteps of famous geographers and dedicate yourself to a rewarding career as a geographer!

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