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secondary school. As such you learnt about the world \u2014 its people and places; distribution of various natural and cultural features and phenomena over the earth\u2019s surface; and the emerging patterns of human- environment interactions at local, regional and global levels. Now, at this stage, you are being introduced to geography as a \u2018discipline\u2019 for the first time. In this chapter, you will get to know the nature and scope of geography and its evolution over the years and the main branches. Soon you would realise that this fascinating area of study, offers immense possibilities to use and apply the knowledge and skills required for living and working in today\u2019s world.
You must have noted that geography is concerned with the study of the earth\u2019s surface where all life forms including human beings live and all human activities take place. The earth\u2019s surface includes the oceans, the atmosphere, the upper part of the earth\u2019s crust and the biosphere.
The earth\u2019s surface is ever changing, sometimes slowly and imperceptibly, while at others, rapidly and perceptibly. In general, the natural phenomena like mountains, rivers, lakes etc. change slowly while the cultural phenomena like buildings, roads, crops, etc. change fast. Geography studies the origin of these changing phenomena; the processes that change them and have brought them to the present state and arranged them in space in the way they exist. It also studies the
Over 6,000 million people live on the earth in innumerable places called villages, towns and cities spread over many continents and countries. Continents, mountains, rivers, plains and many other physical features are the outcome of natural processes in action, while countries, villages, towns, cities, agriculture, industry, means of transport and communication etc. are the products of human activities. Aprocess is a sequence of change systematically related through a chain of causes and effects. Human beings use the natural resources of the earth such as land, water, air, minerals, animals, forests and many others to make a living and to shape their culture. In doing so they change the earth surface enormously. It is no longer natural in the real sense except in remote areas that are still inaccessible, such as Antarctica. The inhabited part of the earth has a clear imprint of the human use of nature.
Geography thus, studies the surface features of the earth and their association with one another and derives meaningful spatial or regional patterns. It studies the factors and processes, which change these features; their mutual relationships; and their spatial arrangement. And finally it studies the implications of the above changes for human beings and their activities.
It would be pertinent to note that all surface features of the earth that attract the attention of geographers are not visible; many of them are conceptual and, therefore, cannot be seen on the ground. For example, we cannot see education, health, per capita income as we can see rivers, mountains, roads
etc. We can, however, see their social topography when we convert their intensities into patterns on maps. Thus, we have maps that show literacy, mortality, longevity of life, environment, prevalence of diseases, quality of life, etc.
Nature provides the base, the resources as well as the resistances. Human beings use these natural endowments to evolve their cultures and civilisations.Culture is the cumulative product of experiences; it consists of values, norms, beliefs, thoughts, ethical standards and styles of life and living.C i v i l i s a t i o n is the physical manifestation of culture. Houses, villages, cities, means of transport and communication, agriculture, industry, etc. forms part of civilisation. Apparently, the two are closely related and almost inseparable. In our discussion, we will use the term culture to include civilisation. Culture is cumulative and therefore, ever changing.
In ancient societies human interaction with nature was rather direct: As time passed, experience accumulated to give rise to various kinds of cultures. Cultures are not only the outcome of the interaction between humans and nature but also among the humans living in different natural environments. It is an ever evolving and ever changing phenomenon. That is why in similar natural settings, cultures and civilisations are not always the same. The earth surface that geographer studies is, therefore, not homogeneous or isometric; it is marked by vast differences in both natural and cultural features. Geography is thus, a natural-cum-human science engaged in the study of factors and processes, both natural and human, that shape the earth surface and give rise to different cultures and civilisations. It classifies and delineates the earth features to arrive at regional patterns and structures; it identifies the agencies and processes at work to change the existing patterns; and predicts the possible outcomes of the processes at work. Thus, geography tries to answer the following questions:
To sum up, geography is a science that studies the spatial arrangement of things on the surface of the earth resulting from a dynamic interaction between humans and nature. Unlike other disciplines, geography cannot be defined by its subject matter for anything present on the earth surface can be and is studied by it. Geography uses information provided by various disciplines, all the way from nuclear physics to, let us say, ancient history, as raw materials to analyse the emerging patterns and structures of the earth surface and their implications for human beings.
Literal meaning of the term \u2018geography\u2019 is \u2018description of the earth\u2019 (geo = earth + graphos=description). The term was first used by Eratosthenes, a Greek geographer who lived in Alexandria, Egypt during 276-192 BC. This is how geography was conceived in ancient times. At present, it is no longer confined to the description of the earth. It has now acquired the status of a science that explains the arrangement of various natural and cultural features on the earth surface. In this section we will examine the scope of geography in greater details.
Geography is often called the mother of all sciences. There is some truth in it. Humans in their early stages of civilised life had to cope with an omnipotent and omnipresent nature. Nature was most important object of curiosity. As apparent from ancient literary works of practically all cultures, nature was often personified and its elements were presented as Gods and Goddesses, and devils and evil spirits, depending upon how they affected human life. Humans suffered from serious limitations imposed by nature because nature
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