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

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

The impact of man on 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.