Geography is the study of the earth's physical features and the living things that inhabit the planet. Geographers use many tools and methods to study and understand the world's places. By investigating the relationships among human activities, the earth's physical systems, and the environment, the study of geography can contribute to a better future for the world's people.
Exploring Geography Those who study geography use different ways of looking at the world or the essential elements of geography—the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical systems, human systems, and environment and society. When geographers study the earth in spatial terms, they focus on where places are located. Location can be expressed as absolute location or relative location. Geographers also group places, or particular spaces with physical and human meaning, into regions with similar physical or human characteristics. The study of Earth's physical systems involves the effects of natural phenomena and ecosystem on the earth's surface. Geographers also look at human systems to see how people settle the earth, form societies, create permanent features, and move from place to place. Human-environment interaction focuses on the relationship between people and their physical environment.
The Geographer's Craft Physical geography and human geography are the two major branches of geography. Geographers use research methods and tools to study places and human activity, including direct observation, mapping, interviewing, statistics, and technology. Scientific instruments, such as satellites and computers, gather and organize data that is used by geographers, planners, and governments. Computers have revolutionized the process of mapmaking, providing much greater precision and making rapid changes possible. Geographers study the relationships among the physical and human features of the earth by using other disciplines such as history, government, culture, and economics. Geography skills are useful in many different careers, which often require a combination of training in geography and other areas of study.