The Geographer (1668-69), by Johannes Vermeer

A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist or humanist whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society, including how society and nature interacts. The Greek prefix "geo" means "earth" and the Greek suffix, "graphy", meaning "description", so a geographer is someone who studies the earth.[1] The word "geography" is a Middle French word that is believed to have been first used in 1540.[2]

Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography. Geographers do not study only the details of the natural environment or human society, but they also study the reciprocal relationship between these two. For example, they study how the natural environment contributes to human society and how human society affects the natural environment.[3]

In particular, physical geographers study the natural environment while human geographers study human society and culture. Some geographers are practitioners of GIS (geographic information system) and are often employed by local, state, and federal government agencies as well as in the private sector by environmental and engineering firms.[4]

The paintings by Johannes Vermeer titled The Geographer and The Astronomer are both thought to represent the growing influence and rise in prominence of scientific enquiry in Europe at the time of their painting in 1668–69.

Areas of study

Subdividing geography is challenging, as the discipline is broad, interdisciplinary, ancient, and has been approached differently by different cultures. Attempts have gone back centuries, and include the "Four traditions of geography" and applied "branches."[5][6][7]

Four traditions of geography

Main article: Four traditions of geography

The four traditions of geography were proposed in 1964 by William D. Pattison in a paper titled "The Four Traditions of Geography" appearing in the Journal of Geography.[5][8] These traditions are:

Branches of geography

Main page: Category:Branches of geography

The UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems subdivides geography into three major fields of study, which are then further subdivided.[6][7] These are:

Five themes of geography

The National Geographic Society identifies five broad key themes for geographers:

Notable geographers

Main articles: List of geographers and List of Graeco-Roman geographers

Gerardus Mercator

Institutions and societies

See also


  1. ^ Arrowsmith, Aaron (1832). "Chapter II: The World". A Grammar of Modern Geography. King's College School. pp. 20–21. Archived from the original on 4 October 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  2. ^ "geography (n.)" (Web article). Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper. n.d. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  3. ^ Pedley, Mary Sponberg; Edney, Matthew H., eds. (2020). The History of Cartography, Volume 4: Cartography in the European Enlightenment. University of Chicago Press. pp. 557–558. ISBN 9780226339221. Archived from the original on 4 October 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Geographers : Occupational Outlook Handbook : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Pattison, William (1964). "The Four Traditions of Geography". Journal of Geography. 63 (5): 211–216. doi:10.1080/00221346408985265. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  6. ^ a b Sala, Maria (2009). Geography Volume I. Oxford, United Kingdom: EOLSS UNESCO. ISBN 978-1-84826-960-6.
  7. ^ a b Sala, Maria (2009). Geography – Vol. I: Geography (PDF). EOLSS UNESCO. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d e Murphy, Alexander (27 June 2014). "Geography's Crosscutting Themes: Golden Anniversary Reflections on "The Four Traditions of Geography"". Journal of Geography. 113 (5): 181–188. doi:10.1080/00221341.2014.918639. S2CID 143168559.
  9. ^ Nel, Etienne (23 November 2010). "The dictionary of human geography, 5th edition - Edited by Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael J. Watts and Sarah Whatmore". New Zealand Geographer. 66 (3): 234–236. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7939.2010.01189_4.x. ISSN 0028-8144.
  10. ^ Marsh, William M. (2013). Physical geography : great systems and global environments. Martin M. Kaufman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76428-5. OCLC 797965742.
  11. ^ "Geography Education @". 24 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 February 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  12. ^ Freeman, T. W.; James, Preston E.; Martin, Geoffrey J. (July 1980). "The Association of American Geographers: The First Seventy-Five Years 1904-1979". The Geographical Journal. 146 (2): 298. doi:10.2307/632894. ISSN 0016-7398. JSTOR 632894.
  13. ^ "AGS History". 26 February 2009. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  14. ^ "National Geographic Society". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Royal Geographical Society - Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)". Retrieved 11 October 2021.

Further reading

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