Understanding Geography – Continents And Oceans

From time immemorial, man has wondered at the grand spectacle called the sea, sometimes placid as a sheet of water, sometimes terrific as hell with giant waves lashing the shores. Always a challenge to those who wanted to conquer it and a boon to pirates who made fortunes by mastering the sea. Here the animals are strange but a source of food for millions. Until Columbus discovered the new world, no one thought that it ever existed. There are mountains and rivers and valleys in the oceans just as in the continents, but text books seldom high light it. The result is that a distinction has been made between the two, concentrating on continents all the while. To know the true nature of the real earth, we must remove her cloths, the sands and soil and water covering her body! What do we see?

Let us start from Quito in Ecuador in Africa. A little distance westward, we see a big depression which we call the Atlantic Ocean in which the ridge is visible. Farther away, we see a plateau called the America. At the west end of this high land is a mountain, like a back bone. This is the Andes. Then comes a very low land stretching westward, almost half the surface of the earth in width. This vast plain is called the Pacific ocean. A mountain peak is just near Africa, Galapagos Island, lat 1s-long 90 w. Further west is a mountain peak, Gilbert Is. Then comes Borneo etc, all mountains, before reaching the African east coast. The lowest plain Pacific, Atlantic at a higher level, then America and Eurasia at the highest level, all a continuous, not necessarily single, rock system. That is really the earth. Caves and tunnels, volcanoes and river like channels, gold and diamond deposits, oil and natural gas etc. etc. are all there irrespective of the level of the terrain.

The Study & Application of Geography

Scope

Modern geography has come a long way and is today an all encompassing field of study. It covers the study of spatial arrangement of phenomenon that have shaped the surface of the earth, the interrelationship between man and environment and the research related with earth sciences.

Geography is different from Geology. Geology deals with the interior of the earth’s crust unlike Geography which is a study of the things and phenomena on the surface of the earth. Similarly, it can be distinguished from history in that the latter studies things as have happened over a passage of time.

Categorization

It is broadly categorized into two parts: physical and human. The physical aspects deal with the landforms like the mountains, plains, deserts, plateaus, and the processes which form these landforms. These physical features evolve over a long period of time.

The human aspect studies the interrelationship between man and earth. It covers cultural (ethnicity, religion), geo-political, historical, economic and other aspects. These change as compared to the physical ones in a comparatively short time frame, say, two or three decades. For this reason, you will find that most of the geography textbooks are not rewritten or revised. Mostly, it is the used textbooks that keep changing hands.

Relevance

It is ironical that this stream is underrated as a career choice even as the practical applications of this body of knowledge finds great use in our everyday lives. Whether it is the city map at your home or the modern day GPS device in your car, these are the result of technological innovation in this area. And, it is also relevant while studying other subjects like history, polity, and environmental sciences in schools and colleges. Further, while opting for careers in travel and tourism, journalism, digital mapping, urbanization studies, and demographics, the knowledge of Geography is essential.

New Innovations

With the development of geographical thought and quantitative revolution, a new study called Geometrics has evolved. Its continuous evolution has enabled the measurement of various phenomena using advanced devices. Modern remote imaging, digital mapping technologies, and cartography have led to development of Geographical Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems. These have proven to be invaluable for resource mapping, defense and geo-political purposes, and for maintaining law and order. It is true; geography is a vast area of study.