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Branches of Geography

Dozens of Branches of Geography Explained


Branches of Geography

Geographers study various aspects of the world and where humans interact with the earth.

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Updated May 15, 2014
The field of geography is a vast and wondrous academic field with thousands of researchers working in dozens of interesting sub-disciplines or branches of geography. There is a branch of geography for just about any subject on earth. In an effort to acquaint the reader with the diversity of the branches of geography, I summarize many below.

Human Geography

Many branches of geography are found within human geography, a major branch of geography that studies people and their interaction with the earth and with their organization of space on the earth's surface.

Economic Geography

Economic geographers examine the distribution of production and distribution of goods, the distribution of wealth, and the spatial structure of economic conditions.

Population Geography

Population geography is often equated with demography but population geography is more than just patters of birth, death, and marriage. Population geographers are concerned with the distribution, migration, and growth of population in geographic areas.

Geography of Religions

This branch of geography studies the geographic distribution of religious groups, their cultures, and built environments.

Medical Geography

Medical geographers study the geographic distribution of disease (including epidemics and pandemics), illness, death and health care.

Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Geography

The study of leisure-time activities and their impact on local environments. As tourism is one of the world's largest industries, it involves a great number of people making very temporary migrations and is thus of great interest to geographers.

Military Geography

Practitioners of military geography are most often found within the military but the branch looks not only at the geographic distribution of military facilities and troops but also utilizes geographic tools to develop military solutions.

Political Geography

Political geography investigates all aspects of boundaries, country, state, and nation development, international organizations, diplomacy, internal country subdivisions, voting, and more.

Agricultural and Rural Geography

Geographers in this branch study agriculture and rural settlement, the distribution of agriculture and the geographic movement and access to agricultural products, and land use in rural areas.

Transportation Geography

Transportation geographers research transportation networks (both private and public) and the use of those networks for moving people and goods.

Urban Geography

The branch of urban geography investigates the location, structure, development, and growth of cities -- from tiny village to huge megalopolis.

Physical Geography

Physical geography is another major branch of geography. It is concerned with the natural features on or near the surface of the earth.


Biographers study the geographic distribution of plants and animals on the earth in the subject known as biogeography.

Water Resources

Geographers working in the water resources branch of geography look at the distribution and use of water across the planet within the hydrologic cycle and of human-developed systems for water storage, distribution, and use.


Climate geographers investigate the distribution of long-term weather patterns and activities of the earth's atmosphere.

Global Change

Geographers researching global change explore the long term changes occurring to the plant earth based on human impacts on the environment.


Geomorphologists study the landforms of the planet, from their development to their disappearance through erosion and other processes.

Hazards Geography

As with many branches of geography, hazards combines work in physical and human geography. Hazard geographers research extreme events known as hazards or disaster and explore the human interaction and response to these unusual natural or technological events.

Mountain Geography

Mountain geographers look at the development of mountain systems and at the humans who live in higher altitudes and their adaptations to these environments.

Cryosphere Geography

Cryosphere geography explores the ice of the earth, especially glaciers and ice sheets. Geographers look at the past distribution of ice on the planet and ice-cause features from glaciers and ice sheets.

Arid Regions

Geographers studying arid regions examine the deserts and dry surfaces of the planet. The explore how humans, animals, and plants make their home in dry or arid regions and the use of resources in these regions.

Coastal and Marine Geography

Within coastal and marine geography, there are geographers researching the coastal environments of the planet and how humans, coastal life, and coastal physical features interact.

Soils Geography

Soil geographers study the upper layer of the lithosphere, the soil, of the earth and its categorization and patterns of distribution.

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