Geography/Background

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Map of the world. Credit: United States Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.

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.

Basics of geography[edit]

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

  • There is a made-up line, called the equator, that goes east-west around the world, halfway between the North and South Poles. Various other lines, called latitude lines, are assigned north and south of the equator.
  • There is another made-up line that runs north-south approximately through London, England, that goes from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole. Various other lines, called longitude lines, are assigned east and west of this line.
  • There are generally considered to be five oceans: these are the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Arctic, and the Southern Ocean.
  • 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 get Eurasia. A website called What are the Seven Continents goes into more detail, which is unnecessary here.)
  • 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 and, either in theory or in fact, governs the country.

Quiz 1[edit]

Complete Geography/Quiz 1.