Geography can be defined as the study of the physical features of the earth. It is also the study of human activities and their relationship with the environment. Based on this definition, it can easily be seen that geography is based on two main concepts “Humans” and “The Environment”. These two concepts are the basis by which geography is divided, thus geography is divided into two main parts which are Physical Geography and Human Geography. We are now going to look at these two divisions of geography and give a brief description of what they are all about.
Physical geography is the branch of geography that looks at the natural processes of the earth. The main purpose of this branch of geography is to explain the characteristics of the various natural phenomena that are associated with the Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
There are a lot of sub-branches that can be found under physical geography. These branches cover major aspects of the natural processes of the earth and each of them explains the relationship that these natural phenomena have with the human community. These sub-branches include
Geomorphology is focused on understanding the surface of the earth and the process by which it is shaped. It deals with the various landforms of the earth, its shapes, and the various processes by which they are caused. Geomorphology seeks to understand landform history and dynamics and also to predict future changes through observation, physical experiments, and numerical modelling.
Just as the word sounds, climatology is the study of climates. Climate is specifically defined as the prevailing or average weather condition of a particular place for a long period of time is what is studied in climatology. The study of both the micro (local) and macro (International) climates of different places in the world allows climatologists to understand the various changes the climate of various locations undergo and also man’s influence on them.
Hydrography is simply the study of water and various water bodies in the world. Hydrography gives is focused on various amounts and quality of the water moving and accumulating on water bodies, land surfaces, and rocks near the surface of the earth and directed by the hydrological cycle. Thus, it studies the water in lakes, rivers, streams, oceans and more.
In the past, hydrology has been discovered to have a deep connection with engineering, this is so because various machines both in the past and presently actively use the movement of various water bodies as the driving force in their operation. Hydrology has other sub-fields that specify more on specific water bodies of water or their interaction with the environment and examples of such sub-fields include Limnology and Ecology.
• Soil Geography
Soil geography deals with the distribution of soil across the terrain. This discipline is very important to agriculture, and physical geography. It studies the distribution of soils as it relates to topography, climate, soil life (micro-organisms, plants, animals) and mineral materials within the soil.
These are the sub-branches in physical geography that deals with the major parts of physical geography. There are still quite a lot more sub-branches that focus on other areas of this subject course. Some of these branches are Palaeogeography, Coastal geography, Oceanography, landscape ecology, geomatics, environmental geography and more.
Unlike physical geography, Human geography or anthropogeography deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interaction with the environment. It does this by studying their relationship with and across space and place.
Since 1945, human geography has been divided into five major parts that cover the major aspects of human life. These five divisions are economic, political, social, historical and cultural geography. We are now going to give a brief explanation of these different parts of human geography.
• Economic Geography
This is one of the most important parts of geography as it focuses on various productive activities that man engages in. since it is focused on productive activities, it is only natural that it branches into agricultural, industrial, and even transport geography as these processes are closely related to agriculture.
• Political Geography
The main concerns of political geography are with the state and its territory, the relationship between the state and the people, and also the external relationship of the state. Political geography studies election processes, various types of conflict in society and more. It also studies the effect of the government on the people and the impact of various governmental decisions on the state and the people in it.
• Social Geography
Social geography concentrates on the various divisions in society. These divisions include class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and even gender. It studies and explains the role and importance of these groups to society and their relationship with each other.
• Historical Geography
Historical geography studies the history of the people, the changes they have undergone and the effect on society. It interprets the past from available evidence. Over the years unlike other branches of human geography, historical geography has not changed. Historical geographers focus on the worlds of the past.
• Cultural Geography
Since human geography deals with the relationship of people with their environment, it is only natural that the culture of the people is studied. Cultural geography studies the interrelationship of people with one another and with their environment. It deals with the way of life of people in a particular place.