Geography. Getting started


  • What is Geography?

That is the first question we have to answer before starting to talk about Human Geography. It seems quite obvious that Geography is the social science that is concerned about the Earth. But, the definition should refer the study of the interaction between Human Beings and environment on Earth. All the actions placed on Earth have consequences, that relationships between Humans and environment are dealt by Geography. Geography is divided basically into two big branches: Physical and Human.

National Geographic defines Geography as ‘the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people. Geography seeks to understand where things are found, why they are there, and how they develop and change over time’.

Geography aims to find out more about and analyse the natural environment where human activities take place, as well as transformations caused by these activities and their consequences.

  • Physical Geography

The natural environment is the primary concern of physical geographers, although many physical geographers also look at how humans have altered natural systems. Physical geographers study Earth’s seasons, climate, atmosphere, soil, streams, landforms, and oceans. Some disciplines within physical geography include geomorphology, glaciology, pedology, hydrology, climatology, biogeography, and oceanography.

  • Human Geography

As a geographical branch, Human Geography deals with the study of the different people of the world, their communities and cultures, and their relations across space and place. This branch covers a range of areas, including health, economics, politics, and development.

Human geography is concerned with the distribution and networks of people and cultures on Earth’s surface. Understand the reasons and characteristics of the different regions, as well as the reasons for and extent of economic development in those regions, and how regional populations have developed and distributed. That is the Human Geography´s aim.

The main divisions within human geography reflect a concern with different types of human activities or ways of living. Some examples of human geography include urban geography, economic geography, cultural geography, political geography, social geography, and population geography. Human geographers who study geographic patterns and processes in past times are part of the subdiscipline of historical geography. Those who study how people understand maps and geographic space belong to a subdiscipline known as behavioural geography.

Geography has some sources such as stats, maps and graphics, surveys (for demography) photographies and pictures (satellite and aerial), and Geographical  Information System (SIG in Spanish). As well it needs some tools the same as History. Some of the main auxiliary sciences are:

  • Cartography
  • Meteorology
  • History
  • Sociology
  • Demography
  • Economy
  • Geology
  • Biology

We will focus on cartography (maps) and demography (the study of the population.)

Talking about cartography is talking about PROJECTIONS. Because Earth is represented in different ways. The sphere flatted by the poles that Earth is has been represented in many different ways.


In this video, you can see, why all the maps we know are wrong.

The maps are plans so you cannot draw the spheric World in a plan. Therefore the maps overrepresented some territories and misrepresented other ones.

  1. Geographical Position

Planet Earth can be represented by a globe or different types of maps. To locate a point on Earth, geography uses imaginary lines that organise the Earth’s surface into grids. These lines are called meridians and parallels, and they are used to form geographical coordinates: latitude and longitude.

Latitude is the angular distance between any point on the planet and the Equator. If the point is located on the Equator, the latitude is 0° and it increases towards the Poles, following the lines of the parallels, until it reaches 90° north or south.

Longitude is the angular distance between any point on the Earth’s surface and the meridian 0° or Prime Meridian. If the point to be located is found on this meridian, the longitude is 0°, and it increases until it reaches 180° east or west distance from the Equator to the Poles.

2. Relief and rivers.

It is the surface of the Earth, the terrain where natural and Human environments take place.

Rivers are continuous currents of water. There are several different terms related to rivers:

  • a tributary is a minor river or stream that flows into a main river;
  • the course is the route that a river follows from its source to the mouth;
  • the channel is the river bed or space occupied by a river;
  • volume is the amount of water that a river transports in a particular place;
  • the watershed is the area covering all the different rivers that flow into the same sea.

3. Weather and climate.

What is the difference between weather and climate?

  • Weather is the atmospheric state in a place and in a moment. The state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, pressure, etc.
  • Climate is the study of the atmospherical conditions in a place during a long period of time. It is the average conditions of the atmosphere over an extended period of time.

It exists three different climatic zones: Cold, Temperate or warm and Hot zones.

Related to the climate, the landscapes are varied and different.  In Spain we can difference five main types of climates:

  • Mediterranean
  • Oceanic (Atlantic)
  • Continental
  • Alpine
  • Subtropical

Label each climate

4. Spanish Relief

  • What are the main geographical accidents in Spain?
    • Depressions: Landforms sunken below the Sea level. Low terrain in the valleys of the rivers. Ebro and Guadalquivir are the most important.
    • Mountain ranges. Interior and exterior.
    • The Meseta Central. Plateau. An over elevated plain in the central area of the Iberian Peninsula.

  • The Meseta Central is a high wide plain divided by the Sistema Central.
  • Depressions or low areas are located between mountain ranges. The largest are the Ebro and Guadalquivir depressions.
  • Interior mountain ranges form a rim around the Meseta, with the exception of its western area. They include the Montes de León, the Cordillera Cantábrica, the Sistema Ibérico and the Sierra Morena.
  • Exterior mountain ranges are located at the extremes of the peninsula.
    They include the Macizo Galaico, the Montes Vascos, the Pyrenees, the Cordillera Costero-Catalana and the Sistema Bético.



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