Why Geography Is Important to Know
Geography has many disciplines and is an essential subject for everyone to know.
I became interested in geography when I was in the third or fourth grade. We had a big textbook with maps and it introduced the continents, oceans, and countries of the world.
After leaving school and entering the Navy, I experienced the geography of many places. This was a result of my travel throughout the United States and Mexico and also to countries in East Asia.
Unfortunately, many people have little or no knowledge of geography. The National Assessment of Education Progress announced that only 25 percent of American students had a score of proficient on a 2010 geography test. When I was teaching English in Thailand eight years ago, more than 80 percent of my fifth-grade class didn't know where Thailand is located in the world and how far it is from the United States.
In this article, after defining geography and listing its disciplines, I suggest several reasons why geography is important to know.
What Is Geography?
Geography is the study of the physical characteristics of the earth and its atmosphere. It is also the study of how human activity affects and is affected by the earth's physical features.
What Are the Disciplines and Different Kinds of Geography?
Based on its definition, there are two main disciplines of geography — human and physical. Examples of each main discipline now follow.
Examples of human discipline include these kinds of geography:
Examples of physical discipline include these types of geography:
- geomorphology or the study of landforms and their evolution
- hydrology or the study of water on the earth
- biogeography or the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems
Cartography or mapping is another geography discipline.
Each discipline and its kinds make geography an important subject to know.
Physical Landform Map of Europe
Reasons Why Geography Is Important to Know
Geography is important for everyone to know for these five primary reasons:
- Knowledge of geography is important for travel.
- Geography introduces the physical terrain of the earth.
- Geography helps you understand history.
- Geography helps you understand the cultures of the world.
- A knowledge of geography makes you aware of events in the world.
1. Knowledge of Geography Is Important for Travel
Unless you have GPS in your vehicle or on your smartphone, you will need a knowledge of geography when traveling. For example, if you are driving from Chicago to Los Angeles, you must know the direction to take, the distance between the two cities, the terrain you will pass through, and how long the trip will take.
Political Map of Europe
2. Geography Introduces the Physical Terrain of the Earth
Someone with no knowledge of geography would think that the earth is flat and not a sphere with north and south poles. Furthermore, he or she would not know that there are seven continents and five oceans in the world. A person would also not know which areas of the United States are mountainous, desert, or plains.
Physical Geography of Afghanistan
3. Geography Helps You Understand History
By knowing that Japan, Great Britain, and Italy are all island or peninsular countries, we can better understand their history. Since these countries did not have to worry about being invaded by foreign nations, they could concentrate on building up their seapower. After building up naval power, all three countries were able to project their power and establish empires around the world.
4. Geography Helps You Understand the Cultures of the World
Geography helps you to better understand the different cultures of the world. For example, by knowing that most Muslims live in desert countries, we can better understand their customs, dress, food, and traditional modes of travel.
5. A Knowledge of Geography Makes You Aware of Events in the World
News is reported every day about events happening around the world. For example, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is captivating most people's interest today. Without knowledge of geography, you would have no idea where Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, China, and the United States are located. To understand world news and how it affects your country, it is essential to have an awareness of geography.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn