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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

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a national park located in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone, widely held to be the first national park in the world, was established in 1872 by the United States Congress and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is dominant. Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened. The vast forests and grasslands also include unique species of plants. Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous megafauna location in the continental United States.

In this month

Friedrich Ratzel

Did you know…

Vix Krater

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Featured biography

Edward Drinker Cope

Edward Drinker Cope was an American paleontologist and comparative anatomist, as well as a noted herpetologist and ichthyologist. Born to a wealthy Quaker family, Cope distinguished himself as a child prodigy interested in science; he published his first scientific paper at the age of nineteen. Cope had little formal scientific training, and eschewed a teaching position for field work. He made regular trips to the American West prospecting in the 1870s and 1880s, often as part of United States Geological Survey teams. A personal feud between Cope and paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh led to a period of intense fossil-finding competition now known as the Bone Wars. Cope’s scientific pursuits nearly bankrupted him, but his contributions helped define the field of American paleontology. He was a prodigious writer, with 1,400 papers published over his lifetime, although his rivals would debate the accuracy of his rapidly published works. Cope discovered, described, and named more than 1,000 vertebrate species, including hundreds of fish and dozens of dinosaurs. His theories on the origin of mammalian molars and “Cope’s Law“, on the gradual enlargement of mammalian species, are among his theoretical contributions.

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Laguna Beach, California
Credit: D Ramey Logan

An aerial view of Laguna Beach, a seaside resort city and artist community located in southern Orange County, California, US. The region was originally known to the Spanish as “La Cañada de Las Lagunas” which means “The Canyon of the Small Lakes”, in reference to two lakes found near the head of Laguna Canyon.

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Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1902 edition, Part Two (1902)

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