Geography/Background

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Geography is the study of the physical world around us and the way humans have impacted it, through their nations, cities, and general way of life. Geography is an important study, and in many ways a science, of the earth as we know it. However, to become a good student of geography, one must study to the point that they are familiar with a world map or any regional map, and so they have a general idea of the location of countries, major cities within those countries, and major physical features, like mountains and important rivers.

Unlike modern geology, geography generally deals with the current layout of the earth, although through uniformitarianism, one could – at least in theory – use geography to study the past. Geography and geology are rather close and could even overlap if one was not careful, but they are two separate studies. One may be used as a supplement to the other, but you do not need a good knowledge of geology to have a good understanding and knowledge of geography.

Historically, geography has been extremely important in the form of cartography. Compare these two maps of the world, one from ancient times and one that is modern:

As you can see by looking at the maps, the ancient map does not include the New World (it was not known to the cartographer at the time), and large regions are drawn, to our geographical eyes, obviously incorrectly. Exploration and (in recent years) satellites have made it easier to make accurate maps.

Basics of geography[edit]

The basics of geography, which are taught to young children but remain essential in this course, are the following:

  1. There is an imaginary line, called the equator, that goes east-west around the world, halfway between the North and South Poles. Various other lines, called latitude lines, run parallel with the equator. These are assigned numbers, like 7th degree north (or 7th parallel), 8th degree north, etc.
  2. Another imaginary line (the Prime Meridian) runs north-south approximately through London, England, going from the North Geographical Pole all the way to the South Geographical Pole. Various other lines, called longitude lines, run parallel to this line.
  3. There are generally considered to be five oceans: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern Oceans.
  4. There are generally considered to be either six or seven continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica. (To get six continents, Asia and Europe are merged to produce Eurasia. A website called What are the Seven Continents goes into more detail, which is unnecessary here.)
  5. While the number of countries is difficult to calculate exactly due to various claims and territorial disputes, there are roughly 200 countries around the world. Almost all of these countries have a capital city where government is located.

Getting to like geography[edit]

If you don't enjoy geography, you will find it harder to learn material. Therefore, it is recommended that check out the photos page, which shows pictures of places from around the world, to get you interested in studying places.

Quiz 1[edit]

Complete Geography/Quiz 1.