The word geography is derived from two Greek
• Geo which means “the Earth” and
• Graphein or grapho which means to “write, draw,
Origin of the word “Geography”
The two words are joined form one word
“geographia”, which stands for “writing about the
Earth.” It also means describing the Earth, Earth
description or to draw about the Earth.”
Origin of the word “Geography”
The term geography was first used in 240 B.C. It
was introduced by a Greek philosopher known as
Eratosthenes. He published a book about
the earth and named it
geography. According to this
Greek scholar, geography is
defined as writing about the
Eratosthenes is regarded
as “the father of geography”
Definitions of Geography
1. Geography is the study of humans and their surroundings
2. Geography is the study of the relationships existing between human
beings and the environment.
3. Geography is a science that studies and describes the surface of the earth.
4. Geography is the scientific study of the Earth’s elements such as climate,
countries, people and natural resources
5. Geography is the study of the Earth and its features and the distribution
of life on it
6. Geography is the study of the physical characteristics of the Earth and
their influence on human life and activities.
1. Briefly define the term geography.
2. Explain the meaning of the following
3. Giving specific reasons, explain why Eratosthenes is very important in geography.
4. Identify the relationship that exists between man and the following
iii. Land and soils
Subdivision of physical geography
1. Biogeography: This is the study of the animals and
plants found on the earth’s surface and their relationship with mankind
2. Climatology: This is the study that is concerned with climate and all its
associated geographical aspect
3. Hydrography: This is the study of landforms – their formation and
influence on humans’ way of living
4. Lithology: This is the study that deals with rocks and soils. It looks at
their type, characteristics, formation
5. Geomorphology: This is the study of rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, swamps
– their features, formation and types and their role in landform
2. Human and economic geography
This is a branch of geography that deals with the
study of human beings and their activities on the
Human and economic geography includes the
following geographical aspects:
• Trade and commerce
• Power and energy
This is a minor branch of geography that deals with scientific approaches that
are aimed towards collecting, studying, analysing, recording and interpreting
Practical geography is done in a practical way hence the name practical
This includes the following.
• Fieldwork studies
• Maps and map work
• Statistical methods such as divided circles and graphs.
• Photographic interpretation, where various physical and human features
are recorded in the form of photographs for further interpretation
Importance of geography
Studying geography as a subject is very important in the following ways:
❖It creates platform for learners to research on different topics
❖It assists learners to know outside world as they do research
❖It gives learners knowledge and skills that enable them to understand
their surroundings (environment)
❖It enables humans to understand problems that face their community
and find possible solutions
❖It helps learners to put into practice what they theoretically learnt in
❖It equips individual knowledge of the relationship with people from
❖It informs the attitudes that countries and individuals have
towards other countries
❖It equips people with problem solving skills
❖It provides learners with knowledge on the available
resources that humans can utilize for survival.
❖It provides guidance to leaders on how to allocate national
resources to all parts of the country.
❖It enables the government and related agencies during the
formulation of policies through geographical studies and
❖It provides learners with a strong foundation in
understanding other subjects of equal importance such as
physics, mathematics, and economics.
Sources of geographical information
Sources of geographical information: these are different materials that a
geographer uses to obtain information. They include the following:
❖Textbooks: these are documents that have a lot of information
concerning specific geographical aspects
❖Atlases: these are collections of maps that present geographical
features, political boundaries, geopolitical, social, religion etc…
❖Mass media: this refers to all means of public communication that
reach large audiences. for example: radios, TV, newspapers, etc….
❖Maps: these are as diagrammatic representation of an area of land or
sea. They show physical and man made features
❖Internet: is a technological way used to research for information from
different sites. Such as Google, Facebook etc….
❖Libraries: a library is place where books, documents,
documentaries and films are stored. It is a reliable source of
❖Billboards: these are large outdoors advertising structure that
present advertisement to pedestrians and motorists
❖Museums: these are places selected for storing a variety of
historical and geographical information and artefacts.
Examples: natural History museum (Kandt house) located at
Nyarugenge in Kigali, Ethnographic mnuseum located at Huye,
Presidential Palace museum located at Kanombe in Kigali,
King’s Palace museum located at Rukari in Nyanza, and
National Liberation Park museum located in Gicumbi.
Relationship between geography and other subjects
a) Geography and Mathematics
Geography involves mathematical principles such as calculations and
statistical figures in calculating distance, length of a road, and
presenting statistical data
b) Geography and Chemistry
Geography involves chemical principles to study certain chemical
aspects such as rock composition, rock weathering, air composition etc.
c) Geography and Physics
Geography involves physical principles to study certain physical
concepts such as waves, mass wasting that are found in earthquakes
and influence of gravity in mass wasting
d) Geography and Biology
Geography studies living and non living things by using
biological principles such as their characteristics, way of
e) Geography and Economics
Geography involves economic principles to study production
distribution, and consumption.
f) Geography and History
Geography involves History to record the events of past and
present to study the population, origin of tribes, and groups.
Techniques/tools used by a geographer
Geographers use a set of specialized tools to describe, understand and
explain the structure of the Earth. They include:
❖ Maps: such as topographical maps showing physical features of an area,
administrative structure, etc..
❖ Compass: such as compass rose (wind rose) providing directions from one
place to another.
❖ Surveying equipment such as tap measure, and a plumb line to accurately
assess even small details of an area. camera, the theodolite which is
consisting of a small mounted telescope that helps measure relative
distance and elevation (horizontal and vertical angles).
❖ Modern tools: such as Global Positioning Systems (G.P.S) guiding ships
across the ocean, positioning astronauts in space, and feeding the detailed
information about position and the geographical context nearby.
Global Positioning Systems help you navigate by feeding
you detailed information about your position and the
geographical context nearby. Global Information Systems
(GIS) and Global Directional Systems (GDS) are similar
tools. GIS is a database of geographic information
consistently updated by academic, business and military
sources, while Global Directional Systems help navigate
from a database rather than live satellite feed.
Geographers use all three systems to help them access
what is already known about the Earth to help with