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Physical Geography VS Human Geography: What’s the Difference?


Have you ever stopped to consider the difference between physical geography and human geography? While these two branches of geography may seem similar, they represent two distinct areas of study. The main distinction between physical and human geography is the focus on either the physical features of the Earth or the human phenomena that inhabit it.

Are you keen to learn more about physical or human geography? Our Earth Science programme lets you explore geography through a scientific lens. Explore our Earth Sciences programmes now.

Physical geography focuses on the natural features of the Earth. This branch of geography studies landforms, climate, bodies of water, biomes, soils, natural vegetation and other aspects of the natural environment. It also studies the impacts of humans on the environment and ecosystems. In other words, physical geography seeks to understand how physical processes drive change in the environment, as well as how humans are interacting with these processes.

Related Content: Earth Sciences Degrees (What to Expect at University)

In contrast, human geography examines the impact of humans on their environment in terms of patterns and processes of migration and settlement, resource extraction, industrialization and urbanization. Human geographers often focus on understanding population growth trends and patterns, cultural practices and languages, religion and beliefs, political organization, economic development and other aspects of human life. This branch of geography explores how people interact with their environment and how these interactions shape our world.

Ultimately, physical and human geography are two distinct areas of study that offer a complementary view of our environment and its inhabitants. Understanding both branches will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of our world as well as our place in it.


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