Human Geography, Nature, Scope

What is Human Geography?

Human geography studies the inter-relationship between the physical environment and sociocultural environment created by human beings through mutual interaction with each other. You human beings on nature for resources which sustain them. The physical environment for such societies becomes the “Mother Nature”.

Human geography is a science in which spatial distribution of human facts on the earth’s surface and the study of functional relationships between human groups and their environment is done on a regional basis. The major branch of Geography i.e.

Human Geography deals with the study of people, communities, economics, cultures, and their interactions with the environment by studying their relations.


Definition of Human Geography

Definitions of human geography expressed by some of the Geographers of human geography are given below:

According to E.C.Semple, “Human Geography is a study of the changing relationships, between the unresting man and the unstable earth”.

According to French Geographer Vidal de la Blache “Human Geography offers a new conception of the inter-relationship between earth and man.…. a more synthetic knowledge of physical laws governing our earth and of the relations between the living beings which inhabit it”.

According to Brunhes, J, “Human Geography is the ensemble of all these facts in which human activity has a part to play-a complex group of facts infinitely variable and varied, always contained within the limits of physical geography, but having always the easily discernible characteristics of being related more or less directly to man”.

According to American Geographer E. Huntington “Human Geography may be defined as the study of nature and distribution of the relationships between Geographical environment and human activities and qualities”.

According to Demangeon, “Human Geography is the study of human groups and societies in their relationships to the physical environment”.

According to Ratzel “Human Geography is the synthetic study of the relationship between human societies and earth surface”.

According to George F. Carter “Human Geography is primarily concerned with the relations between man, ways of life and the places in which they live”.

According to Dickens, S.N., and Pitts, F.R. Human Geography is looked upon as the study of man and his work.

According to H. de Blij’s study of how people make places, how we organize space and society, how we interact with each other in places and across space, and how we can make sense of others and ourselves in our locality, region, and world.

According to Rubenstein, “Human Geography is the study of where and why people and human activities are located”.


Nature of Human Geography

These are the nature of human geography which are given below:

The people begin to understand their environment and the forces of nature with the passage of time. With social and cultural development, humans develop better and more efficient technology. They move from a state of necessity to a state of freedom

They create possibilities with the resources obtained from the environment. Human activities create a cultural landscape. The imprints of human activities are created everywhere; health resorts on highlands, huge urban sprawls, fields, orchards, and pastures in plains and rolling hills, ports on the coasts, oceanic routes on the oceanic surface, and satellites in the space.

The earlier scholars termed this as possibilism. Nature provides opportunities and human beings make use of these and slowly nature gets humanized and starts bearing the imprints of human endeavor.

There are also some important points about the nature of human geography which are given below:

  1. Human geography studies the inter relationship between the physical environment and socio-cultural environment created by man.

  2. Elements of physical environment are land, water, soil, climate, vegetation, fauna.

  3. Elements of cultural environment are transport and communication, settlements, crops

Scope of Human Geography

Each of the physical, biological and social sciences has its own philosophy, methodology, and scope.

For example, economics deals primarily with the production, movement, and consumption of goods and services; geology is concerned with the composition and interior of the earth’s crust; demography pertains to the characteristics of the human population, and zoology and botany examine the animals and plants kingdoms respectively.

Similarly, geography examines numerous tangible and intangible natural and man-made phenomena

In human geography, the major thrust is on the study of human societies in their relation to the habitat or environment. Dealing with the spatial distribution of societies, human geography covers a very wide field or its scope is enormous

It embraces the study of human races; the growth, distribution, and density of populations of the various parts of the world, their demographic attributes and migration patterns; and physical and cultural differences between human groups and economic activities.

It also covers the relationship between man and his natural environment, and the way in which his activities are distributed.

Human geography also takes into account the mosaic of culture, language, religion, customs, and traditions; types and patterns of rural settlements, the site, size, growth, and functions of urban settlements, and the functional classification of towns.

The study of the spatial distribution of economic activities, industries, trade, and modes of transportations and communications as influenced by the physical environment are also important topics of human geography.

In brief, in human geography, we study the influence of the physical environment on the economic activity, society, culture, and religion of the people of a region.

The impact of man on the environment is also a topic of growing importance in human geography.

The adjustment of man to his physical environment in typical geographical regions like equatorial, hot deserts and tundra is of great relevance to human geography as it helps in understanding the symbiotic relationship between social groups and their natural environment.

Human geography deals with the world as it is and with the world as it might be made to be. Its emphasis is on people: where they are, what they are like, how they interact over space and time, and what kinds of landscapes of human use they erect upon the natural landscapes they occupy.

It encompasses all those interests and topics of geography that are not directly concerned with the physical environment like cartography.

Human geography’s content provides integration for all the social sciences, for it gives to those sciences the necessary spatial, temporal, and systems viewpoint that they otherwise lack.

At the same time, human geography draws on other social sciences in the analyses identified with its sub-fields, such as behavioral, political, economic, or social geography.

Human geography admirably serves the objectives of a liberal education. It helps us to understand the world we occupy and to appreciate the circumstances affecting peoples and nations other than our own.

It clarifies the contrasts in societies and cultures and in the human landscapes they have created in different regions of the earth.

Its models and explanations of spatial interaction allow us to better comprehend the economic, social, and political systems within which we all, singly and collectively, live and operate.

Its analyses of spatial systems make us more aware of the realities and the prospects of our own society in an increasingly troubled and competitive world.

Our study of human geography, therefore, can help make us better-informed citizens, more able to understand the important issues facing our communities and our countries, and better prepared to contribute to their solution


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