Human geography is a one of the two key branches of geography i.e. physical and human. Many people relate the word ‘Geography’ basically with knowing where things are. For instance, where is Sahara Desert, where is Mount Everest etc.?
Knowing that why do they exist in specific regions is significantly important, too. It is much more than location, place, and names. It is the study of areal differentiation and how and why things differ from place to place. Further it studies, how discernible patterns developed through time.
Based on a systematic approach, we divide geography into two major branches Human and Physical Geography. On the one hand, Physical geography deals with the study of four spheres of the earth’s surface i.e. Lithosphere, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, and Biosphere. On the other hand, Human geography as second major branch of Geography studies the spatial differentiation and organization of human activity on the earth’s surface.
Definition of Human Geography
It is the study of the interrelationship between people, place and environment. It also explains that how these relationships vary spatially and temporarily. In other words, it is the science which studies spatial distribution of human beings and cultural facts on the surface of the earth.
Some human geographers, researchers and scholars expressed their views on the definition of human geography as following:
- According to F. Ratzel (also known as the father of Human geography), “It is the synthetic study of relationship between human societies and earth’s surface”. – Friedrich Ratzel, 1882
- “It is the study of changing relationship between the unresting man and the unstable earth”. – Ellen Churchill Semple, 1911
- “Conception resulting from a more synthetic knowledge of the physical laws governing our earth and of the relations between the living beings which inhabit it”. – Paul Vidal de la Blache, 1926
- “The scientific study of the location of people & activities on the Earth’s surface, where & why human activities are located where they are, reasons geographers look at the world from a spatial perspective & interaction, and diffusion of people & ideas”. – Rubenstein, 1983
With changing philosophy of geography, the definition of human geography is subject to change. Different paradigms in the field control the definition, nature and scope of the subject. According to E.C. Semple and Huntington, it is concerned with the study of relationship between man and the physical environment. Their definitions are dominated by deterministic approach. The definition given by Vidal de La Blache, Demangeon and Brunhes are dominated by possibilist approach.
Dr. Nisha is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi.