Human geography

Human geography or anthropogeography is the branch of geography that deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across space and place.[1] Human geography attends to human patterns of social interaction, as well as spatial level interdependencies, and how they influence or affect the earth's environment.[2][3] As an intellectual discipline, geography is divided into the sub-fields of physical geography and human geography, the latter concentrating upon the study of human activities, by the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Original map by John Snow showing the clusters of cholera cases in the London epidemic of 1854, which is a classical case of using human geography


Geography was not recognized as a formal academic discipline until the 18th century, although many scholars had undertaken geographical scholarship for much longer, particularly through cartography.

The Royal Geographical Society was founded in England in 1830,[4] although the United Kingdom did not get its first full Chair of geography until 1917. The first real geographical intellect to emerge in United Kingdom's geographical minds was Halford John Mackinder, appointed reader at Oxford University in 1887.

The National Geographic Society was founded in the United States in 1888 and began publication of the National Geographic magazine which became, and continues to be, a great popularizer of geographic information. The society has long supported geographic research and education on geographical topics.

The Association of American Geographers was founded in 1904 and was renamed the American Association of Geographers in 2016 to better reflect the increasingly international character of its membership.

One of the first examples of geographic methods being used for purposes other than to describe and theorize the physical properties of the earth is John Snow's map of the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak. Though Snow was primarily a physician and a pioneer of epidemiology rather than a geographer, his map is probably one of the earliest examples of health geography.

The now fairly distinct differences between the subfields of physical and human geography have developed at a later date. This connection between both physical and human properties of geography is most apparent in the theory of environmental determinism, made popular in the 19th century by Carl Ritter and others, and has close links to the field of evolutionary biology of the time. Environmental determinism is the theory, that people's physical, mental and moral habits are directly due to the influence of their natural environment. However, by the mid-19th century, environmental determinism was under attack for lacking methodological rigor associated with modern science, and later as a means to justify racism and imperialism.

A similar concern with both human and physical aspects is apparent during the later 19th and first half of the 20th centuries focused on regional geography. The goal of regional geography, through something known as regionalisation, was to delineate space into regions and then understand and describe the unique characteristics of each region through both human and physical aspects. With links to (possibilism) (geography) and cultural ecology some of the same notions of causal effect of the environment on society and culture remain with environmental determinism.

By the 1960s, however, the quantitative revolution led to strong criticism of regional geography. Due to a perceived lack of scientific rigor in an overly descriptive nature of the discipline, and a continued separation of geography from its two subfields of physical and human geography and from geology, geographers in the mid-20th century began to apply statistical and mathematical models in order to solve spatial problems.[1] Much of the development during the quantitative revolution is now apparent in the use of geographic information systems; the use of statistics, spatial modeling, and positivist approaches are still important to many branches of human geography. Well-known geographers from this period are Fred K. Schaefer, Waldo Tobler, William Garrison, Peter Haggett, Richard J. Chorley, William Bunge, and Torsten Hägerstrand.

From the 1970s, a number of critiques of the positivism now associated with geography emerged. Known under the term 'critical geography,' these critiques signaled another turning point in the discipline. Behavioral geography emerged for some time as a means to understand how people made perceived spaces and places, and made locational decisions. The more influential 'radical geography' emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. It draws heavily on Marxist's theory and techniques, and is associated with geographers such as David Harvey and Richard Peet. Radical geographers seek to say meaningful things about problems recognized through quantitative methods,[5] provide explanations rather than descriptions, put forward alternatives and solutions, and be politically engaged,[6] rather than using the detachment associated with positivists. (The detachment and objectivity of the quantitative revolution was itself critiqued by radical geographers as being a tool of capital). Radical geography and the links to Marxism and related theories remain an important part of contemporary human geography (See: Antipode). Critical geography also saw the introduction of 'humanistic geography', associated with the work of Yi-Fu Tuan, which pushed for a much more qualitative approach in methodology.

The changes under critical geography have led to contemporary approaches in the discipline such as feminist geography, new cultural geography, "demonic" geographies, and the engagement with postmodern and post-structural theories and philosophies.


The primary fields of study in human geography focus around the core fields of:


Cultural geography is the study of cultural products and norms - their variation across spaces and places, as well as their relations. 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.[7]

Agriculture in Asia
This picture shows terraced rice agriculture in Asia.


Development geography is the study of the Earth's geography with reference to the standard of living and the quality of life of its human inhabitants, study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities, across the Earth. The subject matter investigated is strongly influenced by the researcher's methodological approach.


Shan Street Bazaar
Economic Geography: Shan Street bazaar, market in Myanmar

Economic geography examines relationships between human economic systems, states, and other factors, and the biophysical environment.


Health geography is the application of geographical information, perspectives, and methods to the study of health, disease, and health care. Health geography deals with the spatial relations and patterns between people and the environment. This is a sub-discipline of human geography, researching how and why diseases are spread.[8]


Historical geography is the study of the human, physical, fictional, theoretical, and "real" geographies of the past. Historical geography studies a wide variety of issues and topics. A common theme is the study of the geographies of the past and how a place or region changes through time. Many historical geographers study geographical patterns through time, including how people have interacted with their environment, and created the cultural landscape.


Political geography is concerned with the study of both the spatially uneven outcomes of political processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures.


Population geography is the study of ways in which spatial variations in the distribution, composition, migration, and growth of populations are related to their environment or location.


Settlement geography, including urban geography, is the study of urban and rural areas with specific regards to spatial, relational and theoretical aspects of settlement. That is the study of areas which have a concentration of buildings and infrastructure. These are areas where the majority of economic activities are in the secondary sector and tertiary sectors. In case of urban settlement, they probably have a high population density.


Urban geography is the study of cities, towns, and other areas of relatively dense settlement. Two main interests are site (how a settlement is positioned relative to the physical environment) and situation (how a settlement is positioned relative to other settlements). Another area of interest is the internal organization of urban areas with regard to different demographic groups and the layout of infrastructure. This subdiscipline also draws on ideas from other branches of Human Geography to see their involvement in the processes and patterns evident in an urban area.[9][10]

Philosophical and theoretical approaches

Within each of the subfields, various philosophical approaches can be used in research; therefore, an urban geographer could be a Feminist or Marxist geographer, etc.

Such approaches are:


As with all social sciences, human geographers publish research and other written work in a variety of academic journals. Whilst human geography is interdisciplinary, there are a number of journals that focus on human geography.

These include:

See also


  • Urbanization is a major proponent to human and population geography, especially over the past 100 years as population shift has moved to urban areas.[15]


  1. ^ a b Johnston, Ron (2000). "Human Geography". In Johnston, Ron; Gregory, Derek; Pratt, Geraldine; et al. (eds.). The Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 353–60.
  2. ^ Russel, Polly. "Human Geography". British Library. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  3. ^ Reinhold, Dennie (7 February 2017). "Human Geography". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  4. ^ Royal Geographical Society. "History". Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  5. ^ Harvey, David (1973). Social Justice and the City. London: Edward Arnold. pp. 128–9.
  6. ^ Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography (2009). "Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography: Celebrating Over 40 years of Radical Geography 1969-2009". Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  7. ^ Jordan-Bychkov, Terry G.; Domosh, Mona; Rowntree, Lester (1994). The human mosaic: a thematic introduction to cultural geography. New York: HarperCollinsCollegePublishers. ISBN 978-0-06-500731-2.
  8. ^ Dummer, Trevor J.B. (22 April 2008). "Health geography: supporting public health policy and planning". CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal. 178 (9): 1177–1180. doi:10.1503/cmaj.071783. ISSN 0820-3946. PMC 2292766. PMID 18427094.
  9. ^ a b Palm, Risa (5 September 2016). "Urban geography: city structures". Progress in Geography. 6: 89–95. doi:10.1177/030913258200600104.
  10. ^ Kaplan, Dave H.; Holloway, Steven; Wheeler, James O. (2014). Urban Geography, 3rd. Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-57385-3.
  11. ^ ACME journal homepage. Archived 6 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Accessed: May 18, 2015.
  12. ^ [1] Accessed: July 26, 2017.
  13. ^ Global Environmental Change homepage
  14. ^ [2] Accessed: July 26, 2017.
  15. ^ In only 200 years, the world's urban population has grown from 2 percent to nearly 50 percent of all people.

Further reading

  • Blij, Harm Jan, De (2008). Geography: realms, regions, and concepts. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-12905-0.
  • Clifford, N.J.; Holloway, S.L.; Rice, S.P.; Valentine, G., eds. (2009). Key Concepts in Geography (2nd ed.). London: SAGE. ISBN 978-1-4129-3021-5.
  • Cloke, Paul J.; Crang, Philip; Goodwin, Mark (2004). Envisioning human geographies. London: Arnold. ISBN 978-0-340-72013-4.
  • Cloke, Paul J.; Crang, Phil; Crang, Philip; Goodwin, Mark (2005). Introducing human geographies (2nd ed.). London: Hodder Arnold. ISBN 978-0-340-88276-4.
  • Crang, Mike; Thrift, Nigel J. (2000). Thinking space. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16016-2.
  • Daniels, Peter; Bradshaw, Michael; Shaw, Denis J. B.; Sidaway, James D. (2004). An Introduction to Human Geography: issues for the 21st century (2nd ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-121766-9.
  • Flowerdew, Robin; Martin, David (2005). Methods in human geography: a guide for students doing a research project (2nd ed.). Harlow: Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-582-47321-8.
  • Gregory, Derek; Martin, Ron G.; Smith, Graham (1994). Human geography: society, space and social science. Basingstoke: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-45251-6.
  • Harvey, David D. (1996). Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference. Blackwell Pub. ISBN 978-1-55786-680-6.
  • Johnston, R.J. (1979). Geography and Geographers. Anglo-American Human Geography since 1945. Edward Arnold, London.
  • Johnston, R.J. (2009). The Dictionary of Human Geography (5th ed.). Blackwell Publishers, London.
  • Johnston, R.J (2002). Geographies of Global Change: Remapping the World. Blackwell Publishers, London.
  • Moseley, William W.; Lanegran, David A.; Pandit, Kavita (2007). The Introductory Reader in Human Geography: Contemporary Debates and Classic Writings. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-4051-4922-8.
  • Peet, Richard, ed. (1998). Modern Geographical Thought. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-55786-378-2.
  • Soja, Edward (1989). Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. Verso, London.

External links

Catchment area

In human geography, a catchment area is the area from which a city, service or institution attracts a population that uses its services. For example, a school catchment area is the geographic area from which students are eligible to attend a local school.

Governments and community service organizations often define catchment areas for planning purposes and public safety such as ensuring universal access to services like fire departments, police departments, ambulance bases and hospitals.


A country is a region that is identified as a distinct entity in political geography.

A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated people with distinct political characteristics. Regardless of the physical geography, in the modern internationally accepted legal definition as defined by the League of Nations in 1937 and reaffirmed by the United Nations in 1945, a resident of a country is subject to the independent exercise of legal jurisdiction. There is no hard and fast definition of what regions are countries and which are not.

Countries can refer both to sovereign states and to other political entities, while other times it can refer only to states. For example, the CIA World Factbook uses the word in its "Country name" field to refer to "a wide variety of dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, uninhabited islands, and other entities in addition to the traditional countries or independent states".[Note 1]


Demography (from prefix demo- from Ancient Greek δῆμος dēmos meaning "the people", and -graphy from γράφω graphō, implies "writing, description or measurement") is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings.

Demography encompasses the study of the size, structure, and distribution of these populations, and spatial or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging, and death. As a very general science, it can analyze any kind of dynamic living population, i.e., one that changes over time or space (see population dynamics). Demographics are quantifiable characteristics of a given population.

Demographic analysis can cover whole societies or groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Educational institutions usually treat demography as a field of sociology, though there are a number of independent demography departments. Based on the demographic research of the earth, earth's population up to the year 2050 and 2100 can be estimated by demographers.

Formal demography limits its object of study to the measurement of population processes, while the broader field of social demography or population studies also analyses the relationships between economic, social, cultural, and biological processes influencing a population.

Feminist geography

Feminist geography is a sub-discipline of human geography that applies the theories, methods, and critiques of feminism to the study of the human environment, society, and geographical space. Feminist geography emerged in the 1970s, when members of the women's movement called on academia to include women as both producers and subjects of academic work. Feminist geographers aim to incorporate positions of race, class, ability, and sexuality into the study of geography. The discipline has been subject to several controversies.


GEOBASE is a database, multidisciplinary in scope, which indexes bibliographic information and abstracts for the Geographical, Earth, and Ecological sciences, published by Engineering Information, a subsidiary of Elsevier. The broad subject coverage includes earth sciences, ecology, geomechanics, human geography, physical geography, social geography and oceanography. Development studies are also included in this database.


Geography (from Greek: γεωγραφία, geographia, literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Geography is often defined in terms of two branches: human geography and physical geography. Human geography deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across space and place. Physical geography deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere.

The four historical traditions in geographical research are: spatial analyses of natural and the human phenomena, area studies of places and regions, studies of human-land relationships, and the Earth sciences. Geography has been called "the world discipline" and "the bridge between the human and the physical sciences".

Geography of women's association football

The following article gives a list of Women's association football confederations, sub-confederations and associations around the world.

For international competitions see the article International competitions in women's football.

Historical geography

Historical geography is the branch of geography that studies the ways in which geographic phenomena have changed over time. It is a synthesizing discipline which shares both topical and methodological similarities with history, anthropology, ecology, geology, environmental studies, literary studies, and other fields. Although the majority of work in historical geography is considered human geography, the field also encompasses studies of geographic change which are not primarily anthropogenic. Historical geography is often a major component of school and university curricula in geography and social studies. Current research in historical geography is being performed by scholars in more than forty countries.

Human settlement

In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. Settlements may include hamlets, villages, towns and cities. A settlement may have known historical properties such as the date or era in which it was first settled, or first settled by particular people.

In the field of geospatial predictive modeling, settlements are "a city, town, village or other agglomeration of buildings where people live and work".A settlement conventionally includes its constructed facilities such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, wind and water mills, manor houses, moats and churches.The oldest remains that have been found of constructed dwellings are remains of huts that were made of mud and branches around 17,000 BC at the Ohalo site (now underwater) near the edge of the Sea of Galilee. The Natufians built houses, also in the Levant, around 10,000 BC. Remains of settlements such as villages become much more common after the invention of agriculture.

Integrated geography

Integrated geography (also referred to as integrative geography, environmental geography or human–environment geography) is the branch of geography that describes and explains the spatial aspects of interactions between human individuals or societies and their natural environment, these interactions being called coupled human–environment systems.

Linear settlement

In geography, a linear settlement is a (normally small to medium-sized) settlement or group of buildings that is formed in a long line. Many follow a transport route, such as a road, river, or canal though some form due to physical restrictions, such as coastlines, mountains, hills or valleys. Linear settlements may have no obvious centre, such as a road junction. Linear settlements have a long and narrow shape.

In the case of settlements built along a route, the route predated the settlement, and then the settlement grew up at some way station or feature, growing along the transport route. Often, it is only a single street with houses on either side of the road. Mileham, Norfolk, England is a good example of this. Later development may add side turnings and districts away from the original main street. Places such as Southport, England developed in this way.

A linear settlement is in contrast with ribbon development, which is the outward spread of an existing town along a main street.

New World

The New World is one of the names used for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas (including nearby islands such as those of the Caribbean and Bermuda), and Oceania.

The term originated in the early 16th century after Europeans made landfall in what would later be called the Americas in the age of discovery, expanding the geographical horizon of classical geographers, who had thought of the world as consisting of Africa, Europe, and Asia, collectively now referred to as the Old World (a.k.a. Afro-Eurasia).

The phrase gained prominence after the publication of a pamphlet titled Mundus Novus attributed to Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.The Americas were also referred to as the "fourth part of the world".

Old World

The term "Old World" is used commonly in the West to refer to Africa, Asia and Europe (Afro-Eurasia or the World Island), regarded collectively as the part of the world known to its population before contact with the Americas and Oceania (the "New World"). It is used in the context of, and contrasts with, the New World (the Americas and Oceania).

Outline of geography

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to geography:

Geography – study of earth and its people.

Political geography

Political geography is concerned with the study of both the spatially uneven outcomes of political processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures. Conventionally, for the purposes of analysis, political geography adopts a three-scale structure with the study of the state at the centre, the study of international relations (or geopolitics) above it, and the study of localities below it. The primary concerns of the subdiscipline can be summarized as the inter-relationships between people, state, and territory.


In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic regions and sub-regions are mostly described by their imprecisely defined, and sometimes transitory boundaries, except in human geography, where jurisdiction areas such as national borders are defined in law.

Apart from the global continental regions, there are also hydrospheric and atmospheric regions that cover the oceans, and discrete climates above the land and water masses of the planet. The land and water global regions are divided into subregions geographically bounded by large geological features that influence large-scale ecologies, such as plains and features.

As a way of describing spatial areas, the concept of regions is important and widely used among the many branches of geography, each of which can describe areas in regional terms. For example, ecoregion is a term used in environmental geography, cultural region in cultural geography, bioregion in biogeography, and so on. The field of geography that studies regions themselves is called regional geography.

In the fields of physical geography, ecology, biogeography, zoogeography, and environmental geography, regions tend to be based on natural features such as ecosystems or biotopes, biomes, drainage basins, natural regions, mountain ranges, soil types. Where human geography is concerned, the regions and subregions are described by the discipline of ethnography.

A region has its own nature that could not be moved. The first nature is its natural environment (landform, climate, etc.). The second nature is its physical elements complex that were built by people in the past. The third nature is its socio-cultural context that could not be replaced by new immigrants.

Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents (Antarctica, Australia, about 90% of South America, one third of Africa, and several islands off the continental mainland of Asia), four oceans (Indian, South Atlantic, Southern, and South Pacific) and most of the Pacific Islands in Oceania. Its surface is 80.9% water, compared with 60.7% water in the case of the Northern Hemisphere, and it contains 32.7% of Earth's land.Owing to the tilt of Earth's rotation relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane, summer is from December to March and winter is from June to September. September 22 or 23 is the vernal equinox and March 20 or 21 is the autumnal equinox. The South Pole is in the center of the southern hemispherical region.

Stockholm University

Stockholm University (Swedish: Stockholms universitet) is a public university in Stockholm, Sweden, founded as a college in 1878, with university status since 1960. Stockholm University has two scientific fields: the natural sciences and the humanities/social sciences. With over 34,000 students at four different faculties: law, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, it is one of the largest universities in Scandinavia. The institution is regarded as one of the top 100 universities in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).Stockholm University was granted university status in 1960, making it the fourth oldest Swedish university. As with other public universities in Sweden, Stockholm University's mission includes teaching and research anchored in society at large.

Visual geography

Visual geography is the study of geography as represented in paintings, photos and other forms of the visual arts. Both human geography and physical geography in the visual arts are studied. Typical studies in Visual Geography include the geographical symbols within visual arts. Another is cross referencing the date a piece of visual art was produced with known weather records to see if the art was drawn accurately in the field or from memory in a studio.

Sub-fields of and approaches to human geography
Techniques and tools
Other categorizations

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