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Portal:Geography

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Introduction

True-color image of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center image.
True-color image of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center image.

Physical map of Earth with political borders as of 2016

Geography (from Greek: γεωγραφία, geographia, literally “earth description”) is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Geography is often defined in terms of two branches: human geography and physical geography. Human geography deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across space and place. Physical geography deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere.

Featured article

Cameroon

The Republic of Cameroon is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. Cameroon’s coastline lies on the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is called “Africa in miniature” for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages. In 1960, French Cameroun became independent as the Republic of Cameroun under President Ahmadou Ahidjo. The southern part of British Cameroons merged with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement party, and corruption is widespread.

In this month

Eastern Samar

Did you know…

Parastylotermes fossil

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Featured biography

David A. Johnston

David Alexander Johnston was a volcanologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. One of the principal scientists on the monitoring team, Johnston died while manning an observation post on the morning of May 18, 1980. He was the first to report the eruption, transmitting the famous message “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” before being swept away by the lateral blast created by the collapse of the mountain’s north flank. His work and that of his fellow USGS scientists had convinced the authorities to close Mount St. Helens to the general public and to maintain the closure in spite of heavy pressure to re-open the area; their work saved thousands of lives. His story has become part of the popular image of volcanic eruptions and their threat to society, and also part of the history of volcanology. Following his death, Johnston was commemorated in several ways, including a memorial fund set up in his name at the University of Washington, and two volcano observatories that were named after him. Johnston’s life and death have been featured in several documentaries, films, docudramas and books about the eruption. Along with other people killed by the volcano, Johnston’s name is inscribed on memorials dedicated to their memory.

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Engadin
Credit: Murdockcrc

A view of the High Engadin valley in Switzerland, from Muottas Muragl. The Engadin follows the route of the Inn River from its headwaters at Maloja Pass running northeast until the Inn flows into Austria 100 km (62 mi) downstream. The Engadin is protected by high mountains on all sides and is famous for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities.

Selected quote

Stephen F. Chadwick
Stephen F. Chadwick, Governor’s Biennial Message (1878)

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