For such a small planet, Earth is really a place where a lot of things happen. All those things -you better say processes– are studied by Geography. That’s why, of all the sciences, Geography is the most diverse. Divided in two main -and large- fields (Human Geography and Physical Geography), its branches cover from Economics to Climatology, approaching Geopolitics, Demographics, Environmental Sciences, Geomorphology… and many more! What do those very different disciplines have in common? They affect humans.

We could define Geography as the science that studies the connexion(s) between physical processes and human life. Those processes (weather, rivers, soils, vegetation…) influence humans and their way of life. Also, humans and their way of life influence those same physical processes. Geographers must pay attention to the processes powered by nature and those powered by humans, study them all and try to understand how are they all connected. Because -make no mistake- they are connected.

Physical Geography (Nature’s processes)

  • GEOMORPHOLOGY: the study of landforms in Earth’s surface -types of landforms, how did they get to look as they do, how is wind and water moulding them, what can we expect from them… It’s important to know
  • HIDROGEOGRAPHY: where on Earth is the water? Hidogeography tells us why rivers flow they way the do, how oceans work, what is the water cycle, and how the landform affects the waters.
  • LANDSCAPE SCIENCE: this branch of Physical Geography deals with the origin, structure and dynamics of landscapes, and their transformation by the economic activity of man. Also, it aims to resolve landscape issues, like visual impacts.
  • CLIMATOLOGY: weather and climate are not the same thing. «Yesterday we had a very good climate» is something you wouldn’t say. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time (a day, a week, some hours…), and climate is how the atmosphere «behaves» over relatively long periods of time (centuries, millenniums…). Climatology is the study of the atmosphere and weather patterns over time.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES: this discipline provides an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems, and also tries to solve environmental problems.
  • BIOGEOGRAPHY: the study of the geographic distribution of plants, animals, and other forms of life. It is concerned not only with habitation patterns but also with the factors responsible for variations in distribution.
  • EDAPHOGEOGRAPHY: studies the causes of soil distribution in the territory.

Human Geography (Human’s processes)

  • SOCIAL GEOGRAPHY: The study of social relations, social identities, and social inequalities from a spatial perspective. In particular, social geography is concerned with the spatial variation and the spatial processes constructing social aspects of everyday life.
  • ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY: Economic geography takes a variety of approaches to many different topics, including the location of industries, economies of agglomeration, transportation, international trade, development, core-periphery theory, globalization and the relationship between the environment and the economy.
  • GEOPOLITICS: imagine the World as a chess game. Geographers are also interested in understanding how international politics work: why are there wars? why some countries don’t get along? why are there some economic, political and military alliances? Is there any link between the location of natural resources and international conflicts and relations?
  • RURAL GEOGRAPHY: rural geography may be defined as the study of people, places, and landscapes in rural areas, and of the social and economic processes that shape these geographies. Traditional areas of study include agricultural geography, resource management and conservation, land use and planning, population and migration, economic development, settlement patterns and rural infrastructure.
  • URBAN GEOGRAPHY: urban geography is the subdiscipline of geography that derives from a study of cities and urban processes. Urban geographers study flows of economic resources between cities, patterns of development and infrastructure, political and institutional activities, governance, socio-spatial exclusions, global cities and everyday life.
  • DEMOGRAPHICS: we can also speak of Population Geography. This branch of Geography studies human populations – their size, composition and distribution across space – and the process through which populations change. Births, deaths and migration are the ‘big three’ of demography, jointly producing population stability or change.
  • INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: in a World with no government, every country is autonomous and independent. Each country chooses its relations with the rest of the international community, and that’s what International Relations (IR) analyses. The study of international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and diplomatic relations are all part of IR interests.