1. Nature of human geography
Human geography studiesthe inter-relationship between the physical environment and socio- cultural environment created by human beings through mutual interaction with eachother.
You know that these elements ar e landforms, soils, climate, water, natural vegetation and diverse flora and fauna.
Can you make a list of elements which human beings have created through their activities on the stage provided by the physical environment?
Houses, villages, cities, road-rail networks, industries, farms, ports, items of our daily use and all other elements of material culture have been created by human beings using the resources provided by the physical environment.
While physical environment has been greatly modified by human beings, it has also, in turn, impacted human lives.
2. Naturalisation of Humans and Humanisation of Nature
Human beings interact with their physical environment with the help of technology. It is not important what human beings produce and create but it is extremely important ‘with the help of what tools and techniques do they produce and create’. Technology indicates the level of cultural development of society.
Human beings were able to develop technology after they developed better understanding of natural laws. For example, the understanding of concepts of friction and heat helped us discover fire. Similarly, understanding of the secrets of DNA and genetics enabled us to conquer many diseases. We use the laws of aerodynamics to develop faster planes.
You can see that knowledge about Nature is extremely important to develop technology and technology loosens the shackles of environment on human beings.
In the early stages of their interaction with their natural environment humans were greatly influenced by it. They adapted to the dictates of Nature. This is so because the level of technology was very low and the stage of human social development was also primitive.
This type of interaction between primitive human society and strong forces of nature was termed as environmental determinism . At that stage of very low technological development we can imagine the presence of a naturalised human, who listened to Nature, was afraid of its fury and worshipped it
3. Human Geography through the Corridors of Time
The process of adaptation, adjustment with and modification of the environment started with the appearance of human beings over the surface of the earth in different ecological niches. Thus, if we imagine the beginning of human geography with the interaction of environment and human beings, it has its roots deep in history.
Thus, the concerns of human geography have a long temporal continuum though the approaches to articulate them have changed over time. This dynamism in approaches and thrusts shows the vibrant nature of the discipline. Earlier there was little interaction between different societies and the knowledge about each other was limited.
Travellers and explorers used to disseminate information about the areas of their visits. Navigational skills were not developed and voyages were fraught with dangers. The late fifteenth century witnessed attempts of explorations in Europe and slowly the myths and mysteries about countries and people started to open up.
The colonial period provided impetus to further explorations in order to access the resources of the regions and to obtain inventorised information. The intention here is not to present an in-depth historical account but to make you aware of the processes of steady development of human geography.
The summarised Table 1.1 will introduce you to the broad stages and the thrust of human geography as a sub-field of geography.
1. The World Population
The people of a country are its real wealth. It is they, who are the actual resources and make use of the country’s other resources and decide its policies. Ultimately a country is known by its people.
It is important to know how many women and men a country has, how many children are born each year, how many people die and how?
Whether they live in cities or villages, can they read or write and what work do they do?
These are what you will study about in this unit. The world at the beginning of 21st century recorded the presence of over 6 billion population.
We shall discuss the patter ns of their distribution and density here. The population of the world is unevenly distributed. The remark of George B. Cressey about the population of Asia that “Asia has many places where people are few and few place where people are very many” is true about the pattern of population distribution of the world also
2) 2.Patterns of population distribution in the world
Patterns of population distribution and density help us to understand the demographic characteristics of any area.
The term population distribution refers to the way people are spaced over the earth’s surface.
Broadly, 90 per cent of the world population lives in about 10 per cent of its land area. The 10 most populous countries of the world contribute about 60 per cent of the world’s population. Of these 10 countries, 6 are located in Asia. Identify these six countries of Asia.