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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.

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Surtsey eruption 1963.jpg
Surtsey (Icelandic, meaning "Surtr's island") is a volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland. At 63°18′11″N 20°36′17″W / 63.303°N 20.6047°W / 63.303; -20.6047Coordinates: 63°18′11″N 20°36′17″W / 63.303°N 20.6047°W / 63.303; -20.6047 Surtsey is the southernmost point of Iceland. It was formed in a volcanic eruption which began 130 metres (426 ft) below sea level, and reached the surface on 15 November 1963. The eruption lasted until 5 June 1967, when the island reached its maximum size of 2.7 km2 (1.0 sq mi). Since then, wind and wave erosion have caused the island to steadily diminish in size: as of 2002, its surface area was 1.4 km2 (0.54 sq mi). The new island was named after Surtr, a fire jötunn or giant from Norse mythology. It was intensively studied by volcanologists during its eruption, and afterwards by botanists and biologists as life forms gradually colonised the originally barren island. The undersea vents that produced Surtsey are part of the Vestmannaeyjar (Westmann Isles) submarine volcanic system, part of the fissure of the sea floor called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Vestmannaeyjar also produced the famous eruption of Eldfell on the island of Heimaey in 1973. The eruption that created Surtsey also created a few other small islands along this volcanic chain, such as Jólnir and other, unnamed peaks. Most of these eroded away fairly quickly.

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The title page of Tractatus de globis et eorum usu
Robert Hues (1553–1632) was an English mathematician and geographer who made observations of the variations of the compass off the coast of Newfoundland. He either went there on a fishing trip, or joined a 1585 voyage to Virginia arranged by Walter Raleigh and led by Richard Grenville which passed Newfoundland on the return journey to England. Between 1586 and 1588, Hues travelled with Thomas Cavendish on a circumnavigation of the globe, taking the opportunity to measure latitudes. Beginning in August 1591, Hues travelled with the Earl of Cumberland, intending to complete a circumnavigation of the globe. During the voyage, Hues made astronomical observations while in the South Atlantic, and also observed the variation of the compass there and at the Equator. Cavendish died on the journey, and Hues returned to England in 1593. In 1594, Hues published his discoveries in the Latin work Tractatus de globis et eorum usu (Treatise on Globes and their Use) which was written to explain the use of globes that had been made and published by Emery Molyneux in late 1592 or early 1593, and to encourage English sailors to use practical astronomical navigation. Hues' work subsequently went into at least 12 other printings in Dutch, English, French and Latin.

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Tessellated pavement
Credit: Noodle snacks

Sunrise on the tessellated pavement at Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania. Tessellation (the tiled appearance) of flat-lying sedimentary rock may occur on some ocean shores when the rock fractures through the action of stress on the Earth's crust and is subsequently modified by sand and wave action.

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Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau, "Ktaadn" (1848)

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