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Portal:Geography

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Introduction

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, the features, the inhabitants, and the phenomena of Earth. The first person to use the word "γεωγραφία" was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of the Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be.

Geography is often defined in terms of the two branches of 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.

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South Florida Satellite Image Map.jpg
The geography and ecology of the Everglades involve the complex elements affecting the natural environment throughout the southern region of the U.S. state of Florida. Before drainage, the Everglades was an interwoven mesh of marshes and prairies covering 4,000 square miles (10,000 km2). The Everglades is simultaneously a vast watershed that has historically extended from Lake Okeechobee 100 miles (160 km) south to Florida Bay (around one-third of the southern Florida peninsula), and many interconnected ecosystems within a geographic boundary. It is such a unique meeting of water, land, and climate that the use of either singular or plural to refer to the Everglades is appropriate. When Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote her definitive description of the region in 1947, she used the metaphor "River of Grass" to explain the blending of water and plant life. Although sawgrass and sloughs are the enduring geographical icons of the Everglades, other ecosystems are just as vital, and the borders marking them are subtle or nonexistent. Pinelands and tropical hardwood hammocks are located throughout the sloughs; the trees, rooted in soil inches above the peat, marl, or water, support a variety of wildlife. The oldest and tallest trees are cypresses, whose roots are specially adapted to grow underwater for months at a time. The Big Cypress Swamp is well known for its 500-year-old cypresses, though cypress domes can appear throughout the Everglades. As the fresh water from Lake Okeechobee makes its way to Florida Bay, it meets salt water from the Gulf of Mexico; mangrove forests grow in this transitional zone, providing nursery and nesting conditions for many species of birds, fish, and invertebrates. The marine environment of Florida Bay is also considered part of the Everglades because its sea grasses and aquatic life are attracted to the constant discharge of fresh water.

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Matua (island)
Credit: NASA

A view from space of an explosive eruption of Sarychev Peak on June 12, 2009. The volcano is the central peak of Matua, an uninhabited island in the Kuril archipelago in the Sea of Okhotsk east of Russia and north of Japan. During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army had an airfield on the island, which was taken over by the Soviet Border Troops after the war and abandoned in 1999.

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

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